Kanye West (left) and his mom backstage during The Ellen DeGeneres Show Films the Second Annual "Ellen in the Park"
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"Dear Mama": A Complete Breakdown of Hip-Hop's Most Iconic Odes to Motherhood

Hip-hop's greatest rappers have released iconic songs about their moms — here are some of the most poignant tributes of all time!


May 12 2024, Published 11:59 a.m. ET

Moms hold a special place in all of our hearts, and rappers are no different.

Throughout the years, hip-hop artists like Kanye West and Nas have paid tribute to their mothers by producing songs dedicated to their favorite ladies.

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These tracks pay homage to the profound relationships between mothers and their children, and they have since become hip-hop classics. Here are some of the best rap songs about moms.

“Smile, Mama, Smile” – Rick Ross (2015)

rick ross r and his mother celebrate rick ross birthday party
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Rick Ross (R) and his mother celebrate Rick Ross' birthday party.

Rick Ross's "Smile, Mama, Smile” praises maternal figures and the relationship between mothers and their children. In the song, Ross reflects on his upbringing and the sacrifices his mother made to provide for him.

“It made me stronger, it made me quicker on my feet / All the gain she gave me the love that she would teach.” — Rick Ross ("Smile, Mama, Smile”)

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“Dear Mama” – Tupac Shakur (1995)

Released in 1995 as part of Tupac's album Me Against the World, "Dear Mama" is one of the most iconic rap songs dedicated to mothers. In this heartfelt track, Tupac pays homage to his mother, Afeni Shakur, expressing gratitude for her unwavering love and support through difficult times.

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“I Love My Momma” – Snoop Dogg (1999)

Snoop Dogg has always been a family man. The hip-hop icon released “I Love My Momma” in 1999, and it remains one of his most heartfelt tunes. The song, which was featured on Snoop’s No Limit Top Dogg album, reaffirms the importance of mother-son bonds.

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“Hey Mama” – Kanye West (2005)

kanye west and mother during nd annual american music awards
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Kanye West and mother during 32nd Annual American Music Awards.

Kanye West’s "Hey Mama” serves as a heartfelt tribute to his late mother, Donda West. The song resonates with listeners with its soulful melody and deeply personal lyrics.

In "Hey Mama," Kanye reminisces about his childhood and expresses profound appreciation for his mother's love and selflessness.

“You work late nights just to keep on the lights / Mommy got me training wheels so I could keep on my bike / And you would give me anything in this world." — Kanye West ("Hey Mama")

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“Apparently” – J. Cole (2014)

J. Cole's "Apparently" is a standout track that showcases the rapper's emotional depth. In "Apparently," Cole grapples with feelings of guilt and responsibility, expressing a desire to reconnect with his roots and find solace in the love of his mother.

From financing his education to providing sustenance, Cole holds a deep gratitude for his mother's efforts, and he shares this on “Apparently.”

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“Look What You’ve Done” – Drake (2011)

With lines like, "You love me, and I love you and your heart hurts, mine does too / And it's just words, and they cut deep, but it's our world, it's just us two," Drake gives credence to the powerful moments he shared with his mom.

In "Look What You’ve Done," Drake offers a heartfelt testament to the enduring bond between a mother and her child, which can be complicated sometimes.

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“Glory” – Jay-Z (2012)

jay z poses with his mother gloria carter during an evening of making the ordinary extraordinary
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ay-Z poses with his mother, Gloria Carter during an evening of "Making The Ordinary Extraordinary"

"Glory" by Jay-Z is dedicated to Blue Ivy Carter, but it is also a nod to the rapper’s mother, Gloria Carter. Released in 2012, shortly after Blue’s birth, the song features a heartwarming outro in which Gloria Carter reflects on her journey as a single mother and expresses her love for her son.

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“Dance” – Nas (2002)

In "Dance," Nas contemplates the inevitability of change while recognizing the impact his mother had on his life. The song — from Nas’s 2002 album, God Son — is a fitting tribute to the rapper’s late mother.

Nas invites hip-hop lovers to celebrate the positive moments shared with loved ones while accepting the complexities of family dynamics.

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“A Song for Mama” – Boyz II Men (1997)

“A Song for Mama” became a classic tune thanks to its inclusion on the Soul Food soundtrack.

While it’s not a rap track, "A Song for Mama" perfectly encapsulates the admiration men feel for their mothers. The song is a staple for Mother's Day celebrations and a cherished anthem for honoring moms.

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