The Best Hip-Hop Songs About Moms

They’re the rocks in our lives, our biggest motivators, our No. 1 annoyances, and one of the most iconic ad-libs of all-time. On this Mother’s Day, go ahead and honor your mom by taking a look through 15 of the best hip-hop tracks about them, from Drake, Kanye West, J.Cole, Jay-Z, Chance the Rapper, Snoop, and more.

Donda and Kanye West

Image via Getty/Pat Sullivan/Photoshot

Donda and Kanye West

Moms, mamas, mommas, mothers: They’ve been the rocks in our lives and the go-to shout out when just about anyone makes an appearance on TV. They stand as our biggest protectors (showcased recently by Meek Mill’s mother Kathy Williams writing a letter asking for her son’s release from prison), our biggest motivators, our No. 1 annoyances, and, thanks to the Migos, they’ve become one of the most iconic ad-libs of all-time.

Throughout entertainment, moms have been constant muses, either providing the foundation for a song or propping up the artist who would go on to make it. For every Eminem song lamenting on the trials of dealing with a mother, there are 20 more tracks from artists painstakingly taking the time to detail each and every thing that their mother has done for them.

Just like we don’t need Valentine’s Day to show love, we don’t need Mother’s Day to remind us that moms are symbols of light in our lives—but it sure doesn’t hurt. And while it’s always fun to cop your mom something fresh to show appreciation, this time of year also serves as a perfect time to reflect on the impact the moms in our lives have had on us. The nurturing power of their influence and affection can’t be understated, and it’s why there’s a whole subgenre of music dedicated to honoring their actions.

There are plenty of mom tracks to go around, so it can be a little hard to pinpoint which ones exactly do the best job of procuring the proper emotions surrounding our memories and appreciation for our mothers. To make things easier, we’ve sifted through some of the best hip-hop tracks about them, from Drake to Kanye, and Lil B to Jay-Z.

Without further ado, here are the 15 best rap songs about moms.

15. The Lonely Island, “Mama” (2011)

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Album: Turtleneck and Chain

Producer: Knoc Down

What would childhood have been without constant interruptions from your mom when you were hanging out with your friends? On this track from 2011’s Turtleneck and Chain, The Lonely Island boys (SNL alum Andy Samberg and bandmates Akiva Schaffer and Jorma Taccone) juxtapose the warm feelings we can have toward our mothers with the irritation that only they can cause us. Get ready for “I know you guys said that you weren’t hungry, but do you want—some ants on a log?” to stir up angst you haven’t felt in 15 years.

14. Lil B, "Best Mom Ever" (2010)

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Album: N/A

Producer: Lil B

What list of love could be complete without the champion of positivity himself, Lil B? This cut, dropped on Mother’s Day in 2010, was described by Lil B as “RARE !!!!!! AND AMAZING!!! PLEASE KEEP THIS A SECRETE...HIP HOP IS TO FAKE TO UNDERSTAND..THIS IS MUSIC FOR THE WORLD...WE ALL ARE IN IT..WE ALL SEE IT...TO ALL THE MOTHERS I LOVE YOU AND THANK YOU FOR GIVING US A CHANCE AT BREATH....”

This is truly a “rare” track from Lil B, in which he goes for a typical rap approach, rather than based. The result is a song that’s comprehensive and lucid, spilling out true emotion towards the rock in his life. “It’s ya boy Lil B, actually, it’s your son Brandon,” is a beautiful way to start off a song. 

13. Rick Ross, "Smile Mama, Smile" (2015)

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Album: Black Market

Producer: Jake One

“I just wanna see my mama smile,” Ross says in the intro, setting the tone for a song that, coupled with typical Rozay flex bars, reflects on the impact his mom has had on him throughout his life. Ross reminisces on his mom’s impact in helping him deal with his seizures in 2011 in the first verse, then goes on to express thanks for his upbringing and solidify that he will “always depend on his mama.”

In a Billboard interview breaking down all of the tracks on Black Market, the album which plays host to the song, Ross said, “Once again, being incarcerated, you have time to sit down and realize what means the most to you. I wanted my album to be a walk through my mind, and that's what that was… by the time you put your feet down from the bed, what's running through your mind is what means the most to you, what's your most valuable asset, which is my family.”

12. J. Cole, "Apparently" (2014)

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Album: 2014 Forest Hills Drive

Producer: J. Cole

On “Apparently,” Cole takes the time (in the first verse, at least) to reflect on the influences in his life, namely the person who gave birth to him. Cole thinks back to his mother’s struggles, namely his childhood home being foreclosed on, and his being unable to help in his college years. He admits to perhaps even willfully ignoring the issues present in her life in favor of, in his words, “chasing panties and getting dome.” 

Cole ends his first verse with “Wish you could live forever/So we can spend more time together/I love you mama,” leading up to the first post-chorus of the song, in which he expresses incredulity and appreciation that, apparently, after all of his missteps and errors, his mom still believes in him.

11. Lil Yachty, "Momma" (2017)

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Album: Teenage Emotions

Producer: TrapMoneyBenny

Our first instance on this list of the alternate spelling of mama, this track serves as the outro of Lil Yachty’s debut album Teenage Emotions, solidifying its importance to the 20-year-old rapper. Sonyae Ellison leads with a verse of her own, setting the tone for the slow-paced song, singing, “My best friend, queen of my world, my momma/More precious than diamonds and pearls, my momma/You sacrificed so much to raise a child/I wanna see you happy, see you smile.”

Yachty goes on to give her credit for his success: “My best friend, first lady of my life my momma/Since day one made sure I was straight since pajamas/Now I gotta make sure that you good/Get you a new house with the finest wood,” he harmonizes, establishing a promise that he would follow through on in September of 2017, when he finally did buy her a house. “You’ve given me more than any man has given me,” Mama Boat says on the final line of the album.

10. Mac Miller, "I'll Be There" (2011)

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Album: Best Day Ever

Producer: Beanz ‘n’ Kornbread

“So much of his music, I love. I’m his biggest fan. His first and biggest.” So said Ms. Karen Meyers, Mac Miller’s mother, in a 2014 Complex interview. It’s no wonder that one of Mac’s mixtapes, Best Day Ever, features an entire track dedicated to his life-bringer.

Over a soft instrumental that samples a 1965 track by The Impressions and features Phonte’s vocal assistance, Mac threads the story of his childhood up to now, touching on his mom’s ability to give him the confidence to pursue his dreams and her constant encouragement, and thanking her for being the reason he was able to eat and exist. He ends the song with some sound advice: “If you have your moms, you better treat her right/Call her up, say ‘wassup’ before you sleep tonight/Tell her you love her and thank her for what she did/You may be grown now but remember being a kid when she fed you in your bed.”

9. Snoop Dogg, "I Love My Momma" (1999)

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Album: No Limit Top Dogg

Producer: Meech Wells

Similar to Yachty’s track in both its spelling and the song’s placement on the album, Snoop Dogg’s 1999 track “I Love My Momma” appears on his fourth album, No Limit Top Dogg

With appropriate ‘90s production, Snoop employs a spacey vocal effect for his single verse on the track, reminiscing and reflecting on the past between them, perfectly summed up by, “She taught me everythang, but she didn't charge a fee/She taught me everythang, except how to see a G/For the nine months you carried, I hope you bury me/Instead of the other way around, and I put that on Dogg Pound.”

8. Kanye West, "Only One" (2015)

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Album: N/A

Producer: Kanye West, Mike Dean, Noah Goldstein, & Paul McCartney

One of the few mom-centric songs to take the perspective of the mother, Kanye’s “Only One,” released as a non-album single, was one of three collaborations between himself and Paul McCartney, the others being “Four Five Seconds” and “All Day.”

A press release that accompanied the song and video claims West didn’t come up with the concept or lyrics himself, but instead, that they were channeled down to him through his mom (and possibly grandmother). It’s a simple instrumental—the bulk of it comes from a keyboard and West’s vocals—but the impact of the words is felt, emotion dripping from each one. “And you’re still my chosen one, remember who you are/No you’re not perfect but you’re not your mistakes,” serves as a great reminder of the unconditional love mothers have for their children. It’s a lyric Kanye himself may need to remember today.

7. Goodie Mob, "Guess Who" (1995)

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Album: Soul Food

Producer: Organized Noize

Perhaps the hardest instrumental to accompany a mom song, this track off of Goodie Mob’s 1995 debut album Soul Food offers varying perspectives on relationships with mothers, from fights to love to posting bond payments to make bail.

While each member makes sure to emphasize the important contributions made by their mothers, no line rings out truer than Khujo’s: “I better eat before you bug me to death.” There’s no greater obstacle in life to becoming a skinny legend than dealing with your mom’s constant attempts to feed you.

6. Chance The Rapper, "Hey Ma" (2012)

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Album: 10 Day

Producer: Zak Fox & Tree

From 10 Day, “Hey Ma” takes the time to not just thank Chance’s actual mother, but all those who served as mothers to him. The track earned the No. 16 spot on Complex’s 30 Best Chance the Rapper Songs, thanks to a then-19-year-old Chance winding through a joy-infused beat to admit mistakes (“Hey Ma, hey Ma, I know I never did behave a lot/Never got good grades a lot”) and express gratitude. He namedrops friends’ moms, kind women in his neighborhood who took him in and watched him when his mother was unable to, and, in his words, “anybody who’s been a mother to a motherless child.”

5. Nas, "Dance" (2002)

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Album: God's Son

Producer: Chucky Thompson

Somewhat similar to Kanye’s “Only One,” Nas’ 2002 track “Dance” takes time to honor his mother, who passed away just eight months before the release of God’s Son. Over a solemn beat that features a guitar reminiscent of “I’ll Be Missing You,” Nas opens up about the emotionality of the loss in the first verse, nostalgic for the days that he was able to be held and wishing for a different reality. In the second verse, he comes to terms with his loss, remarking “You resting in peace, forever, I accepted you free/A blessing to me, I see you dressed in all white/Smilin' at me, happy, knowin' everything's all right.”

4. Drake, "Look What You've Done" (2011)

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Album: Take Care

Producer: Chase N. Cashe & 40

Drake has never been shy about showing his love towards his mother (or anyone, really, to the chagrin of Rihanna), but no track encapsulates that better than “Look What You’ve Done” off of 2011’s Take Care. A twinkly piano beat, centered around a sample from a 2009 video of the late Static Major, accompanies the tone of the song perfectly, with Drake detailing the angst felt during his upbringing, combined with the true appreciation he holds for his mother.

“You tell me I’m just like my father/My one button, you push it,” rings strikingly true for those who grew up in a single-parent household, as does the immediate making up and forgiveness in the aftermath of a fight. “When you’re stressed out and you need something, I got you/Look what you’ve done, look what you’ve done,” Drake sings before hopping into a second verse, which plays into a voicemail left by his grandmother who passed away almost a year after the release of the album. “All I can say, Aubrey, is I remember the good times we had together,” she says,  “and the times I used to look after you. And I still have wonderful feelings about that. So God bless you, and I hope I'll see you.”

3. Jay-Z, "I Made It" (2006)

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2. Tupac, "Dear Mama" (1995)

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Album: Me Against the World

Producer: Tony Pizzaro & DF Master Tee & Moses

The go-to reference for those who want to honor their mom, “Dear Mama” is perhaps one of Tupac’s greatest works. On Me Against the World, his final album before his switch over to Death Row, Tupac dedicated more than four minutes to the woman who not only raised him, but also defended herself in court mid-pregnancy against trumped-up charges against her and several other Black Panther Party members.

There’s some embellishing on the track (Tupac raps about not shedding a tear when his father passed, but his father was still alive at the time of the song’s recording) but throughout, genuine appreciation is waxed. It isn’t the first song to honor a mother, but it’s absolutely the most referenced, and with good reason. “You are appreciated,” after all, is the song’s opening line, and it’s repeated after each conclusion of each verse and chorus. “There’s no way I can pay you back/But the plan is to show you that I understand.”

1. Kanye West, "Hey Mama" (2005)

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Album: Late Registration

Producer: Jon Brion & Kanye West

Outside of Tupac himself (and Eminem, but in a much more morbid way), there’s been no other rapper who has had his career so closely associated with his mother, both in tragedy and triumph. The latter is on full display in this track, from 2005’s Late Registration, though performances of it after her passing can provoke as many tears as “Only One” eventually would.

“I'm finna talk about my mama if y'all don't mind,” he says in the fourth line of the song, and talk about his mom he does, running through a track that’s overtly personal and authentic, with West having no shame in using the term “Mommy.”

West debuted a stripped-down version of the song on an episode of Oprah, with Donda West sitting on stage; the track would eventually receive lush instrumentation. As West approached the third and final verse, he picked his mother up by the hand, danced with her, and then placed the mic in her hand for her to perform alongside him.

He would continue performing the song after her death as a way to keep her memory alive, most notably at the 2008 Grammys, where he again stripped the production down to a soft string orchestra, beginning with “Last night I saw you in my dreams, now I can’t wait to go to sleep.” During that performance, his emotions brought him to his knees—it’s now just one of many instances of ‘Ye breaking down while performing the song, oftentimes unable to finish; it’s the ultimate testament of the impact of his mother’s loss. Watching it today, after all West has gone through (and put himself through), elicits even more emotion than it did then.

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