Analysis of Tupac Shakur’s “Changes”

Tupac was a renowned rap artist for his poetic ability in his endeavors as a gangster rapper. The song “Changes” was originally recorded between 1992 and the remix made in 1998. The content being delivered by Tupac through the plot of this song was meant to spread awareness and knowledge about the poverty-stricken societies. In the line, “I’m tired of being’ poor and even worse I’m black, my stomach hurts, so I’ looking for a purse to snatch” expressed the issues facing the blacks such as police brutality, poverty, and crime (Azlyrics, 2018). From that line, it is clear how the social issues are tied together. He indicates that there is a correlation between his skin color and poverty, “I’m tired of being’ poor and even worse I’m black.” (Azlyrics, 2018). Poverty pushes the black to engage in crime, which prompts police brutality. 

Tupac uses tone to explain the social conditions facing the Blacks. The speaker is seemingly a black person who experiences these conditions first hand. The speaker appears to be angry and devasted that no change has taken place to improve the status of the black people, “I see no changes, is life worth living? Should I blast myself? I’m tired of being poor.”  (Azlyrics, 2018). These examples portray a speaker who is in a foul mood and unhappy about the condition that he is in. 

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In the song, Tupac makes use of allusion. This refers to the reference of another text, famous person, or event. “It’s time to fight back, that what Huey said. Two shots in the dark now Huey’s dead.”  (Azlyrics, 2018). The artist refers to this to indicate the attempts that have been made to improve the social of conditions of the black by fighting the oppression from the system. However, the artist elaborates the fate of people who led the blacks to rise and fight back, which is death through a gunshot. The reference here is on Huey Newton who was a social activist and among the founders of Blank Panther Party. Another example of the use of allusion is when Tupac makes a personal reference to events he had personally faced. “Instead of war of poverty, they got war on drugs so the police can bother me” (Nisker, 2007). This statement is in reference to an incident where Tupac had been arrested for drug use. 

The phrase, “Devil take a brother”, can be viewed both as a metaphor or religious allusion (Azlyrics, 2018). As a metaphor, it can be understood as a figure of speech used to represent death and depicts how its snatches the loved ones from existence leaving only nostalgic memories that the persona shared with the deceased. As a religious allusion, the phrase can be understood as being the works of the devil to take away the soul. 

Tupac has made to use of assonance in the line. “All I see is racist faces, misplaced hate makes disgrace to races. We under I wonder what it takes to make this one a better place, lets erase the wasted.” (Azlyrics, 2018). This depicts the ability possessed by Tupac on using the lyrics in a manner that brings out an interesting rhythm. 

Tupac makes use of onomatopoeia – “Rat-a-tat-tat-tat-tat.” This was used to represent the sound of gunfire, which depicted the violent life that was being experienced at that time. That statement is followed by the phrase “That’s the way it is” which reveals that the violent life is part of normal life that they had gotten accustomed to (Azlyrics, 2018). 

The rhyme scheme in the first verse is AABCDDEEFFGGHHFFIIJJKK. Rhyme involves the use of matching sound patterns. Tupac also uses the internal rhyme in the lines, “Don’t let ‘em jack you up, back you up Crack you up and pimp-smack you up” (Azlyrics, 2018).

A figure of speech that is clear from the lyrics of Tupac is the use of irony. Irony entails the application of words in such a way that they give a different meaning from its literal meaning. In the song, Tupac indicates, “Give the crack to the kids, who the hell cares? One less mouth on the welfare.” This statement can be understood as irony since it is not expected that child should be given crack. From the same statement, it is clear that there is a sarcastic tone in the statement, “One less hungry mouth on the welfare.” (Azlyrics, 2018). This indicates that the killing of blacks was viewed as a means of reducing the pressure on the social welfare. 

The song by Tupac tells the plight of blacks in the society where they are faced with problems such as hunger, poverty, high crime rates, and police brutality. Tupac explains the blacks are put in a situation where guns and drugs are readily available. Tupac uses the song to rely a message on the importance of the blacks uniting to create a change in their social situation. He makes the observation that if the blacks fail to act, the situation would remain as it was. He highlights the consequences of rising up and fighting the social inequality by highlighting the predicament that befell Huey (Estimable, 2013). Overall, the song can be regarded as a success in raising awareness on the inequality against the blacks.

Reference

Azlyrics. (2018). 2Pac Lyrics: “Changes” (feat Talent). Retrieved from https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/2pac/changes.html

Estimable, R. (2013). Tupac-Changes (Poetic Analysis). Retrieved from https://prezi.com/sii7skqugalw/tupac-changes-poetic-analysis/Nisker, J. (2007). “Only God Can Judge Me”: Tupac Shakur, the Legal System, and Lyrical Subversion. Journal of Criminal Justice and Popular Culture14(1), 176-196.

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