Dear Mama: A Mother's Day Hip-Hop Playlist
This Sunday is Mother's Day. (Yes, we're sure. Yes, there's still time to get her something.) And what better way to thank the person who brought you into this world than with the gift of music? Few genres have dedicated as many songs to the importance of mothers and mother-figures as hip-hop, but in a cruel bit of the universe's irony, it's often the mothers of the world detesting hip-hop that makes the counter-culture seem so cool. In the name of fairness and compromise, we now present a Hip-Hop Mother's Day playlist that you can even play around Mom! (No, there's no Eminem.)
Would you believe they actually wrote an endearing song about mom?
LL Cool J
"Mama Said Knock You Out," 1990
Mothers always know best. We may not realize it until we're older, but not eating bacon every day, wearing a scarf and cutting-out coupons are actually all fantastic ideas. They're also great motivators when it comes to achieving our dreams. Take LL Cool J, whose
comeback (sorry LL, forgot you told us not to call it that) was inspired by his mother requesting that he render other rappers unconscious. It worked out and LL became hotter than ever. There's no word yet regarding her opinion on "Accidental Racist."
"Dear Mama," 1995
Plenty of former cultural studies majors have written hundreds of uninteresting pages on Tupac's relationship with women over the course of his career. But whether you think his music viewing women through the masculine gaze of capitalism's archetypes by deconstructing the feminine mystique or some some such, one thing we can all agree on is how "Dear Mama" is a stellar song. A heart-on-his-sleeve tribute showing a true moment of recorded vulnerability, "Dear Mama" remains, almost 20 years after its release, the standard for saluting the woman who brought you here.
"Guess Who," 1995
The mid-90s might have been the best time for songs about Mothers in rap. Along with 2Pac's iconic "Dear Mama" and Ghostface's exploration of the importance of mothers in urban poverty in "All I Got Is You," Atlanta's Goodie Mob represented for southern moms with "Guess Who." With the Dungeon Family quartet being among rap's most diverse collectives, they each tell the tales of their mothers' unique stories. Yet, despite being so different, the Mob's mothers each exemplified the same hallmarks of love, responsibility and wisdom that make mothers great.
Beanie Sigel f/ Scarface
"Mom Praying," 2001
The "Broad Street Bully" Beanie Sigel is known as one of rap's most uncompromisingly raw voices. One year after his song "What Ya Life Like" gave arguably the genre's most unglamorous and unsettling description of prison time, Sigel returned with "Mom Praying." A tribute to his mother and grandmother (who raised "10 boys, seven daughters / three-story house with no supporter"), Sigel taps into the feelings of warmth and security a mother's love brings through the subtle reminders of how she cares, as well as brutally threatens anyone who would disrespect her. Joining him is frequent collaborator Scarface whose strong relationship with his mother has been referenced throughout his career, but never more directly than here.