10 Emo Hip-Hop Moments That'll Bring You to Tears

Lil Wayne and Birdman kiss

From Wayne and Birdman's bromance to Mister Cee's on-air sob-fest, relive rap's most tender moments

It's hard to imagine something in hip-hop as emotional as the soundscapes of Drake, let alone what they compel us to reveal through vulnerable text messages and tweets.

But Drake's discography, including his third studio album, "Nothing Was the Same," isn't the first, nor most grand, emoment in hip-hop. Moments oozing with vulnerability have been occurring in hip-hop since 1987, when LL Cool J confessed: "I Need Love."

Drake's Family Message: How 'Nothing Was the Same' Inspired Personal Reflection (Opinion)

Kanye West took emo rap mainstream with the debut of "808s & Heartbreak," laced with honest rhymes of a rough breakup and loss. (Much credit to Kid Cudi, who co-authored the majority of the album.)

In anticipation of the official release of Drake's "Nothing Was the Same" album, check out the progression of emo rap through the top 10 emoments in hip-hop (in chronological order). Grab the tissues!

10. LL Cool J's Rap Ballad, 'I Need Love' (1987)

Rap fans' first popular taste of emotion came when LL Cool J released the genre's first ballad, "I Need Love." LL went against the grain, at the time, and took five minutes to express his longing for love. (Honorable mention to Sugarhill Gang who were the first to record a rap love song, "The Lover In You" in 1982.)

9. Biz Markie's Friend-Zone Anthem, "Just a Friend"(1989)

No one likes to be friend-zoned, especially Biz Markie. The rapper takes on the subject with humor and creates an anthem for those suffering from rejection. Biz Markie, channels the hurt, and sings from the top of his lungs, even if off key. The cherry on top of "Just a Friend" is its single cover, which features Biz Markie drying his sad eyes out. Drake, take note.

 

8. Tupac Releases "Brenda's Got A Baby" As First Single (1991)

2Pac was, and still is, a spectacle of an artist. The West Coast rapper was known to effortlessly switch from a hardcore rhymer throwing up his middle finger, to one embracing his soft side with a book of poetry and starring as Janet Jackson's on-screen love interest in "Poetic Justice." But the pivotal emoment in 2Pac's career, and in hip-hop, was when he chose to release the heartbreaking song "Brenda's Got A Baby" as his first single of his career. Instead of the expected street anthem, 'Pac brings awareness to teen pregnancy and poverty.

7. Method Man and Mary J. Blige Team Up for "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By" (1995)

Method Man and Mary J. Blige wrote the blueprint for a hip-hop love song, let alone rapper-singer collaboration, with "I'll Be There for You/You're All I Need to Get By." The remix to Method Man's "Tical" single, "All I Need," is a perfect balance of thugness and romance.

6. Will Smith Dedicates "Just The Two Of Us" To Son (1998)

In rap, it's almost a rite of passage to pen an ode to mothers-- from 'Pac's "Dear Momma," Kanye West's "Hey Mama," to Drake's "Look What You've Done" -- but another touching dedication is that one to the son or daughter. Inspired by his first born, Trey Smith, Will Smith recorded one of the sweetest songs to one's seed, "Just the Two Of Us," which incorporates his words of wisdom and elements from Bill Wither's and Grover Washington Jr.'s song of the same name. "Just the Two of Us" paved the way for other odes to one's child, such as JAY Z's "Glory," which features coos of his baby girl, Blue Ivy Carter.

5. Eminem Introduces Fan-Emoness With "Stan" (2001)

Eminem is known for his passionate storytelling, covering issues of family and drug abuse. But his song, "Stan," brought to light another type of emoness in rap: the obssesion of fans. Eminem, who at the time was criticized for using gay slurs in his raps, turned a page when performing "Stan," with legend Elton John at the 2011 Grammy Awards.

4. Lil Wayne & Birdman Share a Kiss (2007)
birdman-wayne
When a photo of Lil Wayne and Birdman on the verge of kissing leaked, many thought someone was simply flexing their photoshop skills. But it indeed happened and Lil Wayne isn't ashamed. "Damn right, I kiss my daddy," he raps on "Da Drought 3's" posse cut. Shout out to all of rap's bromances: Method Man and Redman, Kanye West and JAY Z, Dr. Dre and Eminem, Drake and Lil Wayne and all the rest who aren't afraid to share their mutual respect in front of the cameras, smooch or no smooch.

3. Kanye West Takes Emo Rap To A Higher Level With "808s & Heartbreak" (2008)

Let's be honest, Kanye West is the epitome of an emoment. From passionate rants to odes to his late mother, Donda West, Kanye West wears his heart on his sleeve at all times. The rapper took emo rap to the mainstream with his fourth studio album, "808s & Heartbreak." The album, oozing with Auto-tune, features a heartbroken 'Ye spit-singing, even screaming, of lost love's pitfalls. LL Cool J may have been the first rapper to get emo, but Kanye West revitalized the trend and left a younger generation of rappers feeling welcomed to join.

2. Drake Releases "Marvin's Room" (2011)

We wouldn't be here now, texting our exes while listening to "Nothing Was the Same," if not for "Marvin's Room." The "Take Care" single confirmed Drake as an "emo rapper" at first listen (while he may not be as much of a fan of the title as we are). Released during the late hours of the night (which some joke as Peak Drake Hours), "Marvin's Room" compelled both men and women to take to their cellular devices and act on their own emotions.

Hot 97 DJ Mister Cee Talks Resignation: 'My Transgressions Were Affecting the Station'

1. DJ Mister Cee Breaks Down On-Air (2013)

It was heartwrenching to see DJ Mister Cee, a notorious figure in hip-hop, fall apart at the seams while on-air. A day after announcing his resignation from New York radio, Hot 97 (WQHT), Mr. Cee let down his guard and confessed his personal struggles during an interview with Hot 97 comrade (and boss as Program Director), Ebro Darden. The dialogue and brotherly love between Cee and Ebro was a pivotal emoment in hip-hop, hopefully encouraging more open discussion on homophobia in hip-hop.

 

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

Print