Et Tupac?

Two-wheeling my way around, I came up on this article, Defending Tupac's Writings, which is a response to Michelle Malkin's article about a school district that put Tupac's book of poetry, The Rose That Grew From Concrete on their summer reading list. Both articles present valid arguments, so I recommend reading them. As is my wont, I'm gonna take the discussion around the corner, though. Like I said before, Pac was nice, but he wasn't great; he certainly was not a stellar lyricist. Being an MC is more about lyrics, however, and it was in the non-lyrical aspects that he excelled. I think his strength was in his ability to connect to the listener. I personally am more Posdnuos than Pac, but I can understand his popularity. What I don't understand is why people in academic circles are so preoccupied with him. Once again, I will say that much of Tupac's appeal is physical. If he had looked like Biggie, his lyrical limitations would have shut down everything else. That wasn't the case, though. Tupac had the looks and the charisma to be a movie star, and I'm fairly certain that if he hadn't gotten killed, he would be firmly settled in that stage of his career by now. There would be no serious discussion of him as a seminal figure in hip-hop. As I'm quick to say in debates about this, nobody was calling Tupac the best of all time when he was alive. He wasn't even thought to be that close to the top 10. Now that he's dead, however, there are people who will be ready to fight you if you say that Tupac wasn't the best ever at controlling the mic. Aside from the physical element, I think one thing that makes him interesting to write about and think about is the fact that he was all over the place. He loved women and was misogynistic at the same time. He was a thug and he was nationalistic at the same time. How can one person embody so many seeming contradictions? And again, I've never taken any of those courses, and I haven't read a whole lot of the material written about him, so I can't speak on the treatment with any expertise, but what I have seen has not been all that critical. Some obvious contradictions were addressed, but overall what I've seen has amounted to a love-in. Personally, I don't see it. I think Tupac is an interesting figure, but he shouldn't be the primary focus of a course. He was nice, but he wasn't that nice. He would make an excellent part of a survey of hip-hop or hip-hop related writing, but I just don't think he was good enough to warrant the attention he gets. At the same time, I've seen Michelle Malkin on television before (thank the Lord for good eyesight!), so I'm pretty sure that her beef here is not with the selection of Tupac specifically, she doesn't like the idea of using hip-hop in the classroom, period. Once again, if somebody doesn't like hip-hop, they just don't like it. That's a matter of taste. However, I think it's intellectually dishonest to suggest that hip-hop is somehow unsuitable for classroom consumption, particularly if a person doesn't listen to it enough to distinguish between the genres within hip-hop. Certainly there are elements of hip-hop that lack substance, and unfortunately that's what gets the most attention and makes the most money, but there's a whole lot of other records that could be useful in a classroom context. I know when I was teaching math, I couldn't wait to ask the kids what Redman meant when he said, "I hit the spot like x,y." It's not all idiot stuff. Also, I have to cosign on the Defending Tupac article by highlighting that Michelle Malkin didn't highlight any writers of color as she broke down how peurile Tupac's poems are. What, Langston Hughes wasn't worth mentioning? Gwyndolyn Brooks and Maya Angelou aren't writers to emulate? Now, I'm not the one who's gonna say that classical literature has no place in the modern classroom, but I will say that there should be more to it than just that. I'm all for teaching pastoral poems, but I bet I'd bring in Respiration by Black Star to provide a contemporary comparison.