18. 2Pac, "Dear Mama"
"The emotional, the sad songs, were his personal favorite," recalled 2Pac producer Johnny J. His 1995 ballad tribute to his mother, Afeni Shakur, is the ne plus ultra of hip-hop mom songs. Tony Pizarro's beat sets a tender mood, and 2Pac strikes a similar note: "I appreciate how you raised me/And all the extra love that you gave me." But "Dear Mama" hits harder for its realism, especially when Pac raps about his mother's struggles with drug addiction: "And even as a crack fiend, Mama/You always was a black queen, Mama."