I realized I have a soft spot for rap songs about moms. Like, you don’t understand, I REALLY have a soft spot for rap songs about moms. They make me sob my eyeballs out like Kylie Jenner during a Bloomingdale's sale. If I put together a shortlist of some of my favorite songs ever, there’s an inordinate amount of mom songs. They're my emotional kryptonite.
If you ever wanna stop me dead in my tracks, just play “Dear Mama” and I'll immediately break down in tears like Troy on Community. I don’t know why. I mean, I love my mom, but who doesn’t love their mom? (Other than Kaylee Anthony.) I just happen to have a very specific obsession with hip-hop songs that are tributes to mothers. Always have.
Nas’ “Dance,” one of the most beautiful, underrated songs in his discography, finds the rap veteran mourning his late mother and dreaming about one more dance with her.
Everything about the song, from the mellow Chucky Thompson beat to Nas’ shaky voice, is beyond heartbreaking. If "Dance" doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you’re literally a serial killer. You barbecue hitchhikers and you have a lampshade made of armpits, I’m calling the cops on you.
Kanye West has two perfect songs about his late mother, Donda West. Before he became a controversial lightning rod of questionable political views, West was (read: always will be) a mama’s boy at heart.
“Hey Mama” is a joyful celebration of Donda West, and easily the best track on Kanye's 3x Platinum-certified album, Late Registration, which is saying something. Being the best song on Late Registration is like being the most annoying vegan—you got some stiff competition.
“Only One,” released after the passing of Kanye's mom in 2007, is a gentle lullaby from her perspective having a conversation with her son from Heaven. You'll also remember "Only One" for Kanye's decision to shine a spotlight on this Paul McCartney dude. Apparently, he became famous.
And obviously, there’s the most famous mom song in the history of mom songs, 2pac’s “Dear Mama.” A song so perfect that it almost makes you forget about the monstrosity that was 2017's 2Pac biopic, All Eyez on Me.
Chance’s “Sunday Candy” also gives me goosebumps, especially that hook.
I know you’re thinking, “But Drew, that's a song about a GRANDmother, not a mother.” Well, asshole, stop nitpicking my writing because I'm doing my best.
And finally, there's "Headlights," Eminem's long overdue apology to his mother after more than a decade of some Don Rickles-on-crack level roasting of her.
As a kid, the first Eminem song I ever heard was “Cleanin’ Out My Closet,” the painfully harsh diatribe aimed at his mom, which documented the history of their toxic relationship. It’s a great song, but it’s emotionally exhausting, especially when he achingly screeches, “You selfish bitch, I hope you fuckin burn in hell for this shit!” Coincidentally, that is exactly what I said to my mom when she didn’t get me a PS2 for Christmas that year. I’m still upset about it.
Eminem's fiery hatred towards Deborah Mathers was a staple of his early work, so listening to him apologize to her on "Headlights" was beyond surreal. Hearing Em rap, “Mom, you’re still beautiful to me” made me genuinely wonder if I was in the Twilight Zone. That song grabbed my soul by the shoulders and shook it until it puked on the floor.
So let's raise a glass to all the MC’s who have put their love for their mom on wax. This Mother’s Day, play one of the songs in this article for your mom. Just please don’t make it “Cleanin Out My Closet.”