Rappers & their mums - from Jay Z to Kendrick

RnB/Hip Hop | Friday 21st July 2017 | Ben

Hip-Hop has always had and always will have mama’s boys and so it should. Since 2pac released the all time mama’s boy song 'Dear Mama', artists from Kanye West to J Cole have followed suit.

Rappers, especially male ones, now regularly write entire songs about or dedicated to their mothers. Even Eminem, who is well known for disturbing lyrics about his mother, speaks fondly of her in his song 'Headlights'.

A more recent and growing trend in hip-hop records is artists having their own mums or pseudo-mums on a track or interlude through voicemails for example. In a genre where women tend to not always be respected, mothers at least seem to be more valued.

Even as recently as this month Jay-Z’s mother Gloria Carter again features in his music on 'Smile' from his new album 4:44, credited with a beautiful poem towards the end of the song. This is of course after previously making an appearance on 'December 4th'. It got us thinking of all the other mums featured on hip hop and rnb records. 

The obvious one is Drake, who’s well-known mum is written about a lot in his music, especially on 'You & The 6'. Sandi Graham appears through a recorded voicemail where she appears concerned about her son’s well-being on 'Can’t Have Everything' from More Life. He also uses an emotional voicemail from his Grandmother on 'Look What You’ve Done'.

Grandmas seem to be commonplace now too with Big Sean’s being part of a short and sweet little conversation on 'One Man Can Change the World'.

Frank Ocean’s mum is supposedly on 'Not Just Money', an interlude from Channel Orange. Also on Blonde the interlude 'Be Yourself' features the mother of Frank’s ‘good friend Jonathan’, Rosie Watson who is apparently referred to as Aunty by some members of Odd Future.

Kendrick Lamar is another regular and even has a track called 'Momma'. He speaks constantly about her throughout good kid, m.A.A.d city, and on 'Real', a woman assumed to be his mother has an uplifting message. On 'Sherane aka Master Splinters Daughter,' both Kendrick’s mum and dad can be heard arguing over the phone through an amusing voicemail.

At the end of 'Opportunity Cost,' G-Eazy's mum leaves a message for her son ‘Gerald’ in which she holds back tears of pride.

Recorded voicemails have definitely been a more recent trend but hip hop artists from the 90’s were also using their supposed mothers’ voices on their records.

The Notorious BIG’s anthem 'Sky’s the Limit' for instance begins with Biggie’s mums recorded voice; "baby look at me, momma love you."

Jurassic 5’s 'Jurass Finish First' record from Quality Control ends with Chali 2na’s mum appearing via an angry voicemail after a very supportive message from Zakir aka ‘Soups’ father.

Another old school classic 'She’s Alive' by Outkast features a woman’s voice in a song about a single mother. Outkast knows all too well about songs about mother in laws, of course, having written 'Ms Jackson.'

It’s not just American artists but U.K. acts now doing it too. 2 of the biggest albums to come out of the country so far this year both feature the rappers mums.

On Loyle Carner’s critically acclaimed album Yesterday’s Gone, the track 'Sun of Jean' features a beautiful reminiscent poem from Carner’s actual mum.

It’s also becoming a thing in grime now with Stormzy’s mum not only appearing in his videos but in his music as well. At the beginning of '100 bags' from Gang Signs & Prayer, she leaves a very biblical message before Stormzy declares his love for her throughout the track.

Dave uses a phone conversation between him and his mum at the end of 'End Credits', where he tries to explain what an ad-lib is.

With a lot of acts now having children of their own, rappers such as The Game and producers like DJ Khaled have all made songs about their feelings as fathers themselves.

Hip-Hop artists and their relationships with their fathers is a general topic throughout the genre with rappers tending to write about their negative experiences, although there are some exceptions. Mums are much more commonly featured throughout the genre but dads do occasionally make an appearance too.

Along with being a father himself and having a track called 'Hey Ma' dedicated to his ‘mama’, Chance the Rapper’s father appears on 'Everything’s Good (Good Ass Outro)' from Acid Rap in another really adorable phone conversation.

Nas also wrote a song about his mother called 'Dance' following her death and then his own dad, Olu Dara Jones, a blues musician, is on a track with his son called 'Bridging The Gap.'

Common’s father leaves a message for him at the end of 'Retrospect For Life', which in itself is a very heartfelt song about abortion and parenthood.

It’s no wonder parents feature so often throughout people’s music, but it’s certainly most commonplace in hip hop.