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Happy Mother’s Day!
“One of the most important things you can give in life is love. The first thing I knew from my mother was love. Love that came in a pure way. Love that came in a disciplinary way. Love that came, just from a mother loving her son.
At one point, in the first seven and a half years in my life, it was just she and I. That love was really strong and it taught me how to love. It taught me to love myself and gave me a great foundation. And along with that, I got to see my mother as an educator and a teacher.
She tried to help out her students on an extra level. She helped out my friends who didn’t have mothers, who had lost their mothers, mothers who’d been on drugs – she’d help them too.
I got to see my mother being a giving person, be someone who was able to reach out to others, and somewhere in my life that shaped me to want to give, just seeing that example.”
That was rapper / actor / Common, talking about his mother. It’s a great quote and a fitting way to start off the Mother’s Day Tribute episode of Know Your History. It really does say a lot.
Common wrote a memoir entitled “One Day It’ll All Make Sense” which is a nice little play on words. He originally came out as Common Sense but got into some legal troubles because another band already had that name, so he had to drop the “Sense” and just became Common. That is why we know him as Common these days.
His mother actually writes part of the book as well. In one section, she retells a time when she was on the phone speaking to someone from the university. As she talked, her son looked at her a little strangely. When she hung up, Common asked her, “Why were you speaking white?” She explained that you talk differently to different people depending upon who you were talking to. She related it like this – you don’t talk to me the same way you talk to your cousin or your best friend, right? She was basically saying, ‘The words you choose matter.’
It’s really cool to see that he had so much respect for her that she is actually a co-author of his memoir and that he could talk about her like that in front of an audience. Especially in hip-hop, a music form that can be really demeaning to women. I don’t know why this is the case, but one woman in particular is held up above all others in this culture and that is mom.
Today, I want to pay tribute to mothers everywhere. Happy Mother’s Day to everyone out there doing their thing. Much respect to you. We are going to play some songs that are celebrating motherhood today and we have to start out with this one – the quintessential hip-hop Mother’s Day song. This is 2Pac “Dear Mama”
That’s an amazing track. 2Pac is one of my favourite rappers ever. He is talking about motherhood there and it is not always a good thing. He shows some of the downsides, some of the mistakes his mother has made, but he still is able to say – I appreciate everything you’ve done! I love you. This track is for you!
It’s really cool to see a rapper being able to do that because you really have to put yourself out there. You have to open yourself up there and you have to show some kind of vulnerability to be able to do that. I know that in rap, we often stand up, pump our chest and boast. That’s why I love 2Pac, he is able to speak some truth and illustrate some great points.
Here is a clip from an interview he did where he is talking about this song.
“My mother taught me three things – respect, knowledge – the search for knowledge is an eternal journey, and she taught me to not be quiet. If there is something on my mind, speak it. But also to listen.
She told me that God gave you two ears to listen and one mouth to speak. Two ears and one mouth. Common sense. You should speak but you should also listen. That’s where the knowledge comes from. It comes from listening. And once you get the knowledge, then you can speak. It helps you.
So, she taught me respect, knowledge, and understanding mostly.”
Rap isn’t always demeaning. There are a lot of good things happening in this music and a celebration of motherhood today in this special edition of Know Your History. I’m your host, Chase March, and we are going to keep it moving with more tracks that pay tribute to mom. When you think of hip-hop and when you think of Mother’s Day, two tracks probably come to mind. “Dear Mama” that we just played and this next one I’m going to play “Hey Mama”
This is Kanye West from his Late Registration Album “Hey Mama”
Kanye West wrote that song years before releasing it on an album. He even premiered the song in front of his mom on the Oprah Winfrey Show. As I did my research for this show, I came across a lot of footage of him performing the song for his mom and even with her performing it with him on stage. She’s since passed away but it’s really nice to see that he was able to share this with her while she was still here.
She was one of his biggest supporters and she even memorized some of his rhymes and would rap along with him. Very cool to see that kind of support. Kanye’s track “Hey Mama” is one of the best salutes to motherhood that we have in hip-hop along with 2Pac’s “Dear Mama.” Very nice tracks!
Another artist that did a nice job of celebrating motherhood is Masta Ace. In fact, he even took it a step further by dedicating an entire album to his mother. It’s called “Son of Yvonne.” Here is what he had to say about it . . .
“I decided to use the memory of my mother as the backdrop and as the catalyst to carry the album. I dedicated the album to my mother, I put her name in it, ‘Son of Yvonne,’ and just decided that the album was going to be more than a free mixtape of raps. It was going to be an album that had some meaning to me personally as an MC, as a person, as a man. I feel that I’d delivered to the fans more than what they originally expected.”
“Son of Yvonne” is a concept album based around the memory of his mother. I really like this album. There is a narrative in there about how, when he was young, he wanted to be a rapper and how his mom had quite an extensive record collection that she was quite protective of. So, he had to sneak out records if he wanted to rap over them. It’s a nice story, a nice concept album, and a nice tribute to his mom. Something we definitely had to highlight today for this special Mother’s Day edition of the show.
If you are mother, keep doing your thing because it’s a tough job. I have so much respect for you.
Happy Mother’s Day everyone!