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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 I have Mixed feelings about this book April 29 2004
Format:Hardcover
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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1.0 out of 5 stars This book is not what it seems Jan. 21 2002
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I was sorely dissapointed with this book simply because it strayed from the subject. Dyson misinterprets Tupac's work and despite his "search" he fails to show a truthful portrayal of Tupac. Dyson is much more concerned with voicing his opinions about the issues which plague black culture than with Tupac's life and career. The amount of actual information about Pac in this book is astonishingly small. The interpretation is clearly from the perspective of a man who does not identify with rap, and especially with Pac. I consider Tupac to be one of the greatest rappers of all time but fail to see him as the glorified figure which Dyson briefly portrays him to be. The highlights of this book are few and far between. Clearly Dyson is a talented writer but he wrote to the wrong audience in this book. I found that his insight was unneccessary in many parts, and he over-analyzes the overall perspective. The primary problem with this book is that the title is very misleading. The book uses Pac as an example to preach the thoughts of Dyson concerning the state of black society. Dyson forgot that this book was written about a rapper, not a saint. His thoughts on young black men was not the reason I picked up this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Listen and Learn Dec 27 2001
Format:Hardcover
In "Holler If You Hear Me," Micheal Dyson developes a critical analysis of legend rapper, Tupac Shakur. Dyson is well known as an intellectual scholar of hip-hop culture. "Holler" is not a formal biography of Tupac, but moreso an extended essay that attempts to place the life, music, and contradictions of Tupac in a cultural, political context. He explores Tupac's work and life in context of his relationship with his mother, a former Black Panther Party member, and as a youth growing up in a post-Black Panther Party era. Tupac's experiences living in poverty with a drug addicted mother certaintly sheds serious light on his work and lifestyle. Dyson helps us understand more clearly Tupac as an artist whose life and work was full of love for Black cultural life, but also as a tortured brotha who, like many men, got drawn into a machismo, sexist world. In essence, Tupac, writes Dyson, adopted "a creed that at once reflected his fractured home life and affirmed his essential aloneness and his combativeness with the universe he inherited, a stance that captured the domestic alienation of millions of other black youth in his song "Me Against the World."
Personally, I've always had a problem with Tupac's ganster lifestyle and performance. I always felt that because he was looked up to by so many young people that he should have been a better role model for the hip-hop generation. But in reading Dyson's book, I discovered more about Tupac. First off, I didn't realize that he was so well read--that he read widely and continously: authors inlcuding Richard Wright, Gabriel Marquez, Carl Jung, Alice Walker, feminist Susan McClary and Robin Morgan, and George Orwell. He listened to all types of music, and he reflected deeply about God and spirituality.
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5.0 out of 5 stars "Prolific Genius" Dec 16 2001
Format:Hardcover
In Michael Eric Dyson's new book, "Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur" the life and longevity of rap legend Tupac Shakur is the subject of extreme critical analysis. Through several candid interviews with those who knew the infamous rapper best, Dyson attempts to paint a portrait of the controversial rap artist. Tupac has been coined by the Long Beach Arts, Entertainment and Literary Review as "A prolific genius that emerged from the ghetto to enlighten presidents, principalities and oppressive forces in our society about the injustices of the hood." According to Dyson, Tupac was a powerful force that could quote Shakespeare one minute and curse police brutality the next. Dyson's work is particularly significant in that he is actually documenting the history of a hip hop legend that we should never forget. The struggles that Tupac Shakur spoke about in his music, are still just as relevant today. We should never forget the rapper who gave a voice to those who otherwise never stood a chance at being heard. Dyson's work clearly documents prolific genius at it's best.
*The Long Beach Arts, Entertainment & Literary Review
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Gerald in Ottawa, Ontario
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. Read more
Published on July 5 2008 by G. Boucher
4.0 out of 5 stars Tupac Will Never Die!!
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. Read more
Published on March 12 2004 by Jess
4.0 out of 5 stars more than just a view at Tupac, a view at a whole culture
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... Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2004 by D3strukchun
2.0 out of 5 stars title misleading
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... Read more
Published on June 8 2003 by Madtea
4.0 out of 5 stars One neva stop learning bout himself -
...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. Read more
Published on Dec 17 2002 by Eugene K.
5.0 out of 5 stars Poet of the modern time.
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... Read more
Published on Oct. 6 2002 by YALD
2.0 out of 5 stars too wordy
I think the author spent more time with his face in his thesaurus then he did researching.
why can't writers just WRITE!? Read more
Published on Sept. 14 2002 by "michalez"
5.0 out of 5 stars Tupac is the biggest legend, i love him so much
I really feel for Tupac. I feel like i understood him. Like there's a part of him in me just from reading his poetry. Anybody who doesnt like Tupac can go to hell. Read more
Published on June 4 2002 by Rebecca
2.0 out of 5 stars Holler If You Hear Me
after reading this book, i have decided it was not good. only reason i finished it was because my interest in 2pac, i would not reccomend this book to anybody with all the other... Read more
Published on May 24 2002 by moraima rodriguez
4.0 out of 5 stars The Other Side of Tupac
I decided to read this book after seeing Michael Eric Dyson on BET Tonight w/ Suge Knight and had to see what this book was all about. Read more
Published on Jan. 27 2002 by rockbaby1978
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