Poetic Justice and 90s Hip Hop

Contrary to generation Z’s beliefs, poetry existed before Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey. Poetry is so much more than those three sonnet that everyone was force fed in their high school English classes. Poetry is, in many ways, an exciting artform that evokes emotion, diversity and beauty through its various styles and the pure creativity it produces. Throughout its history, poetry has evolved into an intricate art form of its own with many different genres. In the ‘90s, poetry existed in various forms from traditional poetry to rap to film. The ‘90s produced non-traditional forms of poetry that caught the attention of many— it was out with the old and in with the new. 

In the early stages of the ‘90s, all of America’s eyes were on poetry due to the film Poetic Justice, a dramatic romance starring Tupac Shakur and Janet Jackson. The film sporadically featured poems by the “African American poet laureate” herself, Maya Angelou. Poetic Justice opened a brand new door for poetry in society and in everyday life. Rapper Tupac Shakur supported the poetry community both on and off screen, his lyrics impacting the lives of not only African Americans but America as a whole. 

In the ‘90s, rap music began to emerge as a music genre superpower with artists like Tupac, Biggie, N.W.A, Wu Tang Clan and A Tribe Called Quest, among other influential artists who created a space for rap music and poetry in mainstream society. ‘90s rap music was another form of poetry that told stories about the ups and downs of everyday life for African Americans. Poetry in the ‘90s was more than just poetry. In many ways it was political and informative, touching on topics like police brutality, the Los Angeles riots and racism as a whole. Poetry in its various forms united people across the country. It reminded people that they were not alone in what they were feeling, thinking or saying. It gave the people a voice that was heard loud and clear by everyone. Poetry is constantly finding new ways to introduce itself into the lives of those who may not typically be exposed to it. Whether people realize or not, they are constant consumers of poetry; poems are everywhere. We live it, breathe it and simply are it.

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