“There’s no way I can pay you back/But the plan is to show you that I understand/You are appreciated” –2Pac, “Dear Mama.”
Mother’s Day is one of America’s oldest non-religious holidays. It dates back to the Civil War, created by peace advocates who supposed if there was one thing that could people could agree on during the war, it was the love of a mother.
Hopefully, Mom was there for you when no one else was, drying your tears and cooking meals that only she could create. The love of a nurturing mother can inspire a child and give them the confidence to reach for their dreams, but, that isn’t every person’s experience. The relationship between a mother and child is one of the most complicated in humanity.
This weekend, AllHipHop.com salutes “Hip-Hop Moms We Love.” Some of them shine as amazing examples for their artistic seeds, some fueled their kids to be anything but like them. Either way, they gave birth to some of our favorite artists. Whether she was great or not so great, whether she brought you in this world or not, whether she is still here in the physical or on another plane; we hope you take a moment this Sunday to think about your Mom:
Dr. Donda West (Kanye West)
A noted scholar and college professor, Dr. West was, at one point, chairwoman of Chicago State University’s English Department, a position she left to help her son in his business and community service efforts. In 2007, Dr. West published the book, Raising Kanye: Life Lessons from the Mother of a Hip-Hop Star. The subject of poignant songs by her son like, “Hey Mama,” Dr. Donda West passed away November 10, 2010.
Dr. Mahalia Hines (Common)
A principal in Chicago Public Schools for almost 20 years, Dr. Hines helped her son to write his memoir, One Day It’ll All Make Sense, released last year. A friend of Kanye’s mom, Dr. Donda West, Dr. Hines expresses the grief in the book that she felt when she passed away. Dr. Hines works as Common’s business manager and helps to run his Common Ground Foundation, a community service venture that helps fuel reading initiatives in Chicago.
Dr. Brenda Greene (Talib Kweli)
As a professor of English and the Executive Director of the Center for Black Literature at Medgar Evers College at the City University of New York, it is no wonder that Dr. Brenda Greene produced a son as lyrically prolific as Talib Kweli. Dr. Greene’s scholarly work focuses on African-American and Multi-Cultural Literature. Not coincidentally, Talib Kweli worked for years in a bookstore in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
Gloria Carter (Jay-Z)
On “December 4th,” the classic song from Jay-Z on The Black Album, Gloria Carter provided amazing commentary about the birth and early childhood of her superstar son, Shawn, claiming that when he was born weighing 10 pounds, his birth was painless. Ms. Carter is currently the CEO of the Shawn Carter Foundation, which offers scholarships to single mothers, children who attend alternative schools, those attaining GEDs, the previously incarcerated, and other non-traditional students who need assistance with pursuing higher education.
Maureen Yancey (J. Dilla)
After the loss of James DeWitt “J Dilla” Yancey, Maureen Yancey (Ma Dukes) has fought ceaselessly to not only preserve, but protect and promote the legacy of her eldest son. Despite facing her own health problems and Dilla’s sizeable debts, Ms. Yancey established the J. Dilla Foundation, a community service program to help engage the arts in schools. Ms. Yancey will soon release J. Dilla: Rebirth of Detroit, a new album from her company, Yancey Media, which features unreleased music from the legendary beatmaker.
Nancy Jones (Jim Jones)
After appearing on “Love & Hip Hop”, Nancy Jones was either a mom that you loved or one that you loved to hate. But, one thing was true: it was obvious that Mama Jones has a ferocious love for her only son. Many may not know that Ms. Jones attended and graduated from New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology, and with the assistance of the visibility from her appearance on “Love & Hip Hop”, Jones is launching her own clothing line and a community service program for women called Sparkle On.
Debbie Mathers (Eminem)
Debbie Mathers was one of the most-controversial family members the music industry had seen since Courtney Love. Her son’s fame, their estranged relationship, and the many songs made about her made her famous, for a short time, in her own right. At one point, Ms. Mathers made her own CD, sued her son for millions, and frequented the talk show circuit. Despite her many flaws, it’s undeniable that Debbie Mathers is a mother who has inspired some of the most gripping songs in Hip-Hop in recent decades.
Voletta Wallace (The Notorious B.I.G) and Afeni Shakur (2Pac)
No list about Hip-Hop mothers is complete until listing these two phenomenal women. Ms. Wallace and Ms. Shakur (pictured at top) have worked tirelessly to preserve the legacies of their sons, whose memories and music loom eternally over Hip-Hop music and culture. Both Ms. Wallace and Ms. Shakur maintain charitable organizations, The Christopher Wallace Memorial Foundation and The Tupac Amaru Shakur Foundation, which both help young people to achieve success.
Both mothers frequently appear on television shows and in documentaries about their sons. Ms. Wallace and Ms. Shakur have both written books and produced films about the legacies of their sons; they remain the perennial mothers of Hip-Hop culture.
Biba Adams is a Senior Staff Writer for AllHipHop.com. She is also the mother of a teenage daughter, and the only child of a great mom. Wish her a Happy Mother’s Day on Twitter (@BibatheDiva).