Tupac Shakur: The Rose that Grew From the Concrete, Volume I

Rating: C+

Like most compilations and tribute albums, The Rose that Grew is very hit and miss. This Amaru/Interscope release is supposed to be a tribute to the spoken word and Tupac’s poetic prowess. Originally published by MTV Books/Pocket books, The Rose is a collection of 71 poems. In Volume 1, twenty-five of those poems are interpreted by poets, actors, singers and rappers.

The tribute features performers like Jasmine Guy, Quincy Jones, Danny glover, Malcom Jamal Warner, Mos Def, Q-Tip, Outlawz and Dead Prez. The combination of the spoken word and heavy beats is like most vocal poetry recitals — everything is dependent on the delivery.

Even 20th Century poets like Ginsberg and Burroughs couldn’t adequately translate their own works into spoken word every time. And that is probably the toughest thing about Rose — trying to translate someone else’s, very personal poetry into a musical composition. At certain times, however, some of the translations seem to be right on target.