Top 10 Hip-Hop Mother Songs
In this list of the Top 10 Hip-Hop mother songs, rappers deliver love to their mamas with inspiring and heartfelt lyrics. Since most of the people on our list were raised in single parent households, it's only right that they pay tribute to the matriarch who kept the family together. In hip-hop, where toughness and misogyny is often celebrated, it's refreshing to hear rappers offer a softer side to their steely demeanors. In honor of Mother's Day, PopCrush presents the Top 10 Hip-Hop Mother Songs. Listen to the tracks below and don't forget to thank your mothers on this honorable day.
'Big Mamma (Unconditional Love)'
LL Cool J was raised primarily by his grandmother, Ellen Griffin (aka Big Mamma), who inspired him to record his 1991 Grammy-winning song, 'Mama Said Knock You Out.' After her death in 2002, LL dedicated this top hip-hop mother song in her memory. "You're my lawyer, my teacher, my doctor, my friend / My mother, my father / You're with me to the end," he raps on the gospel-tinged track.
'If (My Mommy)'
New York rapper Saigon opens up about his beloved mother, who passed away in 2009 from an undisclosed illness. Even though Saigon is usually known for his tough lyrics, he lets this persona go on 'My Mommy,' where we hear his softer side. The song is accompanied by an elegiac letter he wrote to his mom. "I lost the woman who gave me my first rap tape and introduced me to hip-hop," he writes. "I lost my pride and joy Ms. Josephine Sampson."
From OutKast's 2003 hip-hop masterpiece 'Speakerboxx/The Love Below,' the Andre 3000 ballad 'She's Alive' is dedicated to the single mothers who are out there raising their children by themselves. Andre gets autobiographical on this top hip-hop mother song as he recalls how his mom raised him from a young boy to a man. And yes, that is Andre 3000's mother being really honest about what single parenthood is like.
'I Love You Momma'
Bay Area rapper E-40 shouts out his momma on the synth-heavy song, which comes in at No. 7 on our Top 10 Hip-Hop Mother Songs countdown. The chorus is especially poignant: "My mama man, she does everythang / She's a superhero / Nobody like you, there's nobody else / That I place above you / That's why I dedicate this song to you."
From Goodie Mob's classic debut album 'Soul Food,' the track 'Guess Who' is a smartly-written song about a special person who is often the nurturer and provider of the family. Guess who? “I never knew my dad / So even when the times got bad / I was glad because I had my momma,” raps Cee Lo Green on the piano-driven track.
Eight months before Nas was to supposed to release his sixth album, 'God's Son,' his mother, Fannie Ann Jones, died of breast cancer. On 'Dance,' the New York rapper pays homage to his late mother's strength and wishes he could get one more dance with her. On trumpet is Nas' father, jazz musician Olu Dara. This is a beautiful tribute to a woman who essentially raised one of the most gifted lyricists in hip-hop.
'December 4th,' which is Jay-Z's birthday, is his autobiographical ode of growing up in Brooklyn and the obstacles he faced during his adulthood. Jay's mother, Gloria Carter, also offers some revealing stories about raising her son, Shawn Corey Carter. "The only one who didn't give me any pain when I gave birth to him," she says in one anecdote. "And that's how I knew that he was a special child."
Kanye West truly adored his mother Dr. Donda West. So much so, that he originally recorded 'Hey Mama' in 2000 as a tribute to her. Tragically, she died in November 2007 from complications related to her cosmetic surgery. In 2008, 'Hey Mama' had a greater meaning when he performed it live at the 50th annual Grammy Awards. There wasn't a dry eye in the house.
'All That I Got Is You'
Over a soulful sample of 'Maybe Tomorrow' by the Jackson 5, Ghostface Killah paints a honest portrait of poverty and strength on this classic ode to his mother. Growing up in Staten Island, N.Y., the Wu-Tang Clan rapper recounts his life being "sharper than cleets" and you can feel it in his words. If this song doesn't touch your heart, then you need to check your pulse.
Our Top 10 Hip-Hop Mother Songs list wouldn't be complete without mentioning Tupac Shakur's 'Dear Mama,' his heartfelt ode to his mother, Afeni Shakur. In June 2010, the Library of Congress inducted the song into the National Recording Registry for its cultural significance and rightfully so. It's a beautifully-written anthem that sums up how we all feel about our mothers -- they are appreciated.