Rap Reincarnations: “Dear Mama” versus “Hey Mama”
Then: “Dear Mama” By Tupac Shakur
Now: “Hey Mama” By Kanye West
Years before its 2005 release, Kanye West wrote “Dear Mama.” It talked about Donda West as the driving force behind his career, and how, even though she personally disagreed with her son dropping out of college to pursue music, she supported him every step of the way.
Underneath the “thug life” exterior, Tupac was a momma’s boy too; “Dear Mama” relates the struggle that many single mothers face when trying to raise a boy into a man. Affeni Shakur raised two kids on her own, reportedly struggled with drug addiction, and still managed to make sure her children always had a hot meal before bed. Donda worked hard too: late nights while pursuing a higher education. They both were also educators in their own right, with Donda West teaching at Chicago State University and Afeni being a proud member of the Black Panther party.
These are reccurring themes over the course of their sons’ musical catalogues. Both were motivated by repaying their mothers for their sacrifices with a better life.
These odes also went a long way toward humanizing both artists. While their behavior in the media was hard or aggressive, these songs show they have emotions and vulnerabilities like anybody else.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go give my mom a hug.