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Holler If You Hear Me: Searching For Tupac Shakur [Hardcover]

Michael Eric Dyson
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Aug. 15 2001
Acclaimed for his writings on Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr., as well as his passionate defense of black youth culture, Michael Eric Dyson has emerged as the leading African American intellectual of his generation. Now Dyson turns his attention to one of the most enigmatic figures of the past decade: the slain hip-hop artist Tupac Shakur.Five years after his murder, Tupac remains a widely celebrated, deeply loved, and profoundly controversial icon among black youth. Viewed by many as a "black James Dean," he has attained cult status partly due to the posthumous release of several albums, three movies, and a collection of poetry. But Tupac endures primarily because of the devotion of his loyal followers, who have immortalized him through tributes, letters, songs, and celebrations, many in cyberspace.Dyson helps us to understand why a twenty-five-year-old rapper, activist, poet, actor, and alleged sex offender looms even larger in death than he did in life. With his trademark skills of critical thinking and storytelling, Dyson examines Tupac's hold on black youth, assessing the ways in which different elements of his persona-thug, confused prophet, fatherless child-are both vital and destructive. At once deeply personal and sharply analytical, Dyson's book offers a wholly original way of looking at Tupac Shakur that will thrill those who already love the artist and enlighten those who want to understand him."In the tradition of jazz saxophonists John Coltrane and Charlie Parker, Dyson riffs with speed, eloquence, bawdy humor, and startling truths that have the effect of hitting you like a Mack truck."-San Francisco Examiner"Such is the genius of Dyson. He flows freely from the profound to the profane, from popular culture to classical literature."-Washington Post"A major American thinker and cultural critic."-Philadelphia Inquirer"Among the young black intellectuals to emerge since the demise of the civil rights movement…undoubtedly the most insightful and thought-provoking is Michael Eric Dyson."-Manning Marable, Director of African American Studies, Columbia University

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From Publishers Weekly

A poor, urban, high school dropout and book-devouring autodidact who'd quote Shakespeare in conversation, Shakur would also sing along to Sarah McLachlan. Dyson (I May Not Get There with You: The True Martin Luther King, Jr.), a Baptist minister, reveals the complexity of Shakur and shows why even five years after his death his records, poetry and films continue to sell. "He was not hip-hop's most gifted emcee. Still, Shakur may be the most influential and compelling rapper of them all," writes Dyson. "He was more than the sum of his artistic parts." Complementing Dyson's articulate perspectives on the short life and extraordinary impact of the icon are his emotive interviews with writer Toni Morrison, actress Jada Pinkett Smith (Shakur proposed to her, but was turned down), rapper Mos Def and more than a dozen others. Most striking are the conversations about and with Shakur's beloved mother, a former Black Panther and ex-crack addict. Dyson uses themes in Shakur's raps to examine the larger ills of hip-hop culture such as misogyny and the new hostility between youths and elders without neglecting the rapper's positive acts and intentions. Shakur wanted to "combat the anti-intellectualism of hip-hop," Dyson persuasively writes. (Sept.)Forecast: This book will sell, for Shakur has a huge fan base that has only grown since his death. But more than a music bio, the book will draw the attention of socially conscious readers who are interested in how hip-hop affects society.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Ordained Baptist minister and DePaul University professor Dyson (Between God and Gangsta Rap, LJ 1/96) here analyzes the life of rapper/actor Tupac Amaru Shakur (1971-96) as a microcosm of black American life and culture. Placing gangsta rap in social and historical context, he thoroughly and thoughtfully considers its key elements as evidenced by Shakur's music and videos, exploring issues like machismo, the simultaneous contempt for and adoration of black women, and black-on-black violence. (Shakur himself was shot to death in a still-unsolved murder.) Dyson discusses these sensitive, controversial subjects with such noted cultural analysts as Khephra Burns and Stanley Crouch, creditably balancing the opinions of rap's supporters, rap's critics, and rappers themselves. Though marred by a few minor errors, this well-written, intelligent, and energetically investigative work will make a valuable addition to academic libraries. The extremely high level of writing renders it unsuitable for fan-oriented biography collections, for which Tupac Amaru Shakur, 1971-1996 (Three Rivers, 1998) is more appropriate. Bill Piekarski, formerly with Villa Maria Coll. of Buffalo, Cheektowaga, NY
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Gerald in Ottawa, Ontario July 5 2008
Not much here -- basically just self-absorbed, ahistorical, post-modernist nonsense. If you want to read the ramblings of someone in love with Jacques Derrida, Foucault etc. trying to show how clever he is, then this is your cup of tea. If you are looking for a book about Tupac Shakur that is actually grounded in empirical reality and has something useful to say, look elsewhwere.
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2.0 out of 5 stars I have Mixed feelings about this book April 29 2004
I not really sure what I think about this book. Being a big fan of Tupac, I'm interested to read any book about him because I like to see how different people view his feelings and his words. But this book really confused me. The whole time I was reading it i was wondering where it was going. It seemed to jump to a totally different subject TOO OFTEN.
If you want read a book about Tupac that will help you learn more about him and what he did. This book isnt for you. This book is really Dyson's insight on how Tupac related to other genre's and problems in the world.
I wouldnt recommend this book to many people, I dont know who I would recommend it to, to be honest. If you are a big 2pac fan, then there probably isnt anything in here that you dont know.
Half the book wanders off in other directions such as the authors view on the "n" word. Personally, If I wanted to read about that then I would read a book about it.
I'm getting mad writing this review so Im just gonna quit. THIS BOOK ISNT ANYTHING SPECIAL, IT GOT ON MY NERVES MORE THAN I ENJOYED IT!!!!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Tupac Will Never Die!! March 12 2004
By Jess
I really enjoyed reading this book. I am 2Pac's #1 fan. I try to read everything that I can to learn more about 2Pac's life. His words are so real. His life has been amazing. I find him so interesting. I own every album that he has ever made. I think his music is so passionate and a lot of people can relate to his lifestyle. It saddens me that he only had a short time to live. He has made a great impact on many people's lives. And I believe that he will continue to do so for years to come. He's such a talented artist and I respect him so much. This book has many quotes from all the people that knew him. They give their input on his views and his lifestyle-mostly all positive. It makes people understand why he lived the way he lived. I recommend anybody who loves 2Pac to read this book.
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This book offer more than just a look at this undeniably great Poet called Tupac, it also looks at the HipHop-culture describing why so many black people uses the "N-WORD" and goes all the way back to slavery to explain this, also the "B-Word" and others reasons in hiphop gets explained (which could be great if for example Right-Wing people like Bill O'Reilly would read this, becouse he is always attacking rappers on his show the factor)...
It's a good book and Michael Eric Dyson is a good writer , u can actually picture Tray-Dee from The Eastsidaz sitting at the dinner-table crying in an interview he did about Tupac in the book.
4 Stars: Quality Stuff
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2.0 out of 5 stars title misleading June 8 2003
By Madtea
The author offers some insight into cultural issues, but for the most part, this is a very disappointing book that doesn't bring you any closer to understanding Tupac or the choices he made. Both the intended audience and the style of this book are very confused as well - it offers too little insight to be a biography, but is too focused on one individual to be cultural criticism; it's too academic in some ways, and too much like a magazine article in others.
I also echo previous viewers' issues with the author's vocabulary. It's often uncomfortable (like someone is trying too hard to impress you) or completely confounding, such as comparing Tupac's lyrics to 'the ethical poverty of romantic nationalism'. What in the world does that mean, and what does it have to do with Tupac Shakur?
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4.0 out of 5 stars One neva stop learning bout himself - Dec 17 2002
...First and foremost big up to the Michael Dyson. When I first heard of da book over da net. I really wanted to read it right then and there. This book reveals a lot bout Tupac and da influence his mom had on him and as a young South African dis book teaches me a lot about self respect,respect for others,especially women and that each and everyone of us has got a purpose in dis world
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5.0 out of 5 stars Poet of the modern time. Oct. 6 2002
Nothing comes easier than talk about about what art needs: first of all, it is always arbitrary; second, it just provides theme for philosophizing, and furthermore relieves us of the obligation that not everybody is up to - gratitude for what it is. What a wonderful book this is. A book instantly animated by the breathing of all cultures. So far no one has spoken of Tupac as Dyson does. His words don't simply signify an object or a life, but freely choose and hover freely, like a soul around a body that has been abandoned but not forgotten. Dyson's penetrating gaze goes beyond the biography of Tupac Shakur, it defines the unity in the whirlpool of his life, proposes to us a doctrine of the systematization of phenomenon. The air of this book calls for a flight. Thank you Mr. Dyson.
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2.0 out of 5 stars too wordy Sept. 14 2002
I think the author spent more time with his face in his thesaurus then he did researching.
why can't writers just WRITE!? why do they always have to spin webs of diction and prose, JUST WRITE so we can JUST READ.
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