“Concrete: Pen & Pad” by Uptown Shane

Each day is an opportunity to celebrate Black art. Today we’re coming with some heat from DC-based rapper Uptown Shane and her poem “Concrete: Pen & Pad,” originally published in MelaNation’s third issue, we are family.

“This work was inspired by the life and death of my 19-year-old nephew, Robert, and so many young black men across the world that battle gun and gang violence, police brutality, broken homes, molestation, and more,” Uptown Shane told MelaNation about the poem. “‘Concrete’ represents life itself, the bottomless pit, the ground. ‘Pen & Pad’ represents the perspectives, the journey, writing and expressing it all in mind and heart, the release, the healing, and the truth.”

Uptown Shane performed “Concrete: Pen & Pad” at the release party for MelaNation’s third issue in February 2018, and her deep, rhythmic vocals brought the poem to the audience like a roll of thunder. Born and raised in the Northwest DC neighborhood of Columbia Heights, Uptown Shane believes that using our collective voices to highlight the experiences of our communities and to uplift each other’s perspectives is key to our freedom.

“In order for our youth to be liberated, we have to know we can’t shut up! ‘Concrete: Pen & Pad’ is everything we don’t want to hear,” Uptown Shane says. “Healing is in session.”

Read “Concrete: Pen & Pad” below, and check out more of Uptown Shane’s music and poetry on SoundCloud.



Uptown Shane performing at the release party of MelaNation’s third issue in February 2018 (Photos courtesy of Deyane Moses Studio)


Concrete: Pen & Pad
by Uptown Shane


it’s concrete pen & pad
crown vic cruising on the ave
windows tinted
rolled up half way,

let me paint this picture

i’m from a place where things
where it gets rough
3 years old cooking noodles
where it gets tough
candy you can see in a jar
don’t touch!
pay attention
i guess for him it was a rush
i’m thinking bout it while i’m writing
full of disgust!
i stay high as a plane off pain
tears make puddles like rain
not happy with myself i wanna change
i’m dippn through life so fast out of my range.

selling oils is the new hustle
watch the stick up kids
they will egyptian musk you
five-0 they wanna cuff you
face against the pavement
our live entertainment
our jewelry hospital bracelets
i just got out of jail and i’m back
to the same shhhhhhhhh!
and with our checks every month
pops out with the goons
on the stoop with a blunt
nuffn on these lil boy brains but a nut
one word to describe the baby mother
one word to describe the drive by shootings
youth got their crews chanting
we don’t give aaahhhhhh!!!!!
sad but true we stuck like glue
in the hood
we so misunderstood!

why is it so hard to get a job?

no jobs so yea
we resort to rob
my son he gotta eat right
why u think i’m freezing on the corner
all night

holding to this rock and 9
—real tight
waiting for a fiend to come so they can
get right
ain’t got no money for the bus i got my brother’s bike
i stash clothes in the bushes when it’s necessary
i change em two or three times
i’m legendary
when i speak these truths
it’s from rob’s head
i mean his perspective
his way.
the hood ain’t no party
ain’t ish to celebrate
we smoke weed doe yea
so we can levitate

the day i started
is when i got my


— poem by Uptown Shane
— introduction by Jordan DeLoach


Wanna hear more from Uptown Shane? Follow her below: 

Instagram: @uptownshane
Soundcloud: uptown_shane
YouTube: TheUptownShane

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