It takes a supremely talented storyteller to convey enough emotion through song to cause a grown man to shed a tear. Not many artists can reach this high point. Other artists, such as Aubrey Graham, decide to just cry in all their songs with the hopes that we’ll start to feel the same. However, there are a select few who can create such a song so powerful and unforgettable, that they literally evoke tears from their listeners. In compiling this list, I chose to omit some more well-known songs such as Tupac’s “Brenda’s Got A Baby” and Eminem’s “Stan.” Most of my audience has likely heard these, but if not I recommend a quick leap over to YouTube or Spotify to catch up. On the other hand, if you already feel hip to these classics, peep some more that will tug at your heartstrings in the post that follows.
Ab-Soul --The Book of Soul
“Your momma told me read the Book of Job, they should have called it the Book of Soul.” The first line of the second-to-last track on Ab-Soul’s debut album sets the tone for the trials detailed in this sorrowful love ballad. For those who aren’t familiar with the Book of Job in the Christian Bible, it details the story of Job, a faithful man who endured the trials of Satan. We hear the uncut emotion of Ab-Soul after the death of his lover and fellow TDE artist, Alori Joh. Steel yourself before you press play on this one.
Immortal Technique—Dance With The Devil
Immortal Technique has been well established for years as one of the most powerful storytellers and message bearers of hip-hop. He’s never been known to sugarcoat anything, ever. The thing that really gets under your skin with this song is just how suddenly and drastically this song turns in the final verse. We’re saddened to hear of a young man’s descent into the criminal underground in search of fame and power. Nothing, I repeat, nothing can prepare the audience from the final twists of the last verse in this song.
Nas – Dance
The all-original production in this track cries before the Queensbridge emcee even says his first words on this track off of “God’s Son.” We feel Nasir speak with the conviction of a grown man expressing his love while trying to hold back tears. Whether your mother is alive or deceased, you can’t help but empathize with the thought of losing the woman who birthed you. Nas has always had a way with words, and he uses his words to express just how important his mother was to him through story and reflection.
Brother Ali—Picket Fence
Some artists give off an untouchable persona. They express the hardships they’ve gone through, but rarely delve into the emotion caused by traumatic events. Brother Ali, on the other hand goes straight in saying, “got a lot of scars on me, and I’ll tell you the story.” You feel his pain, confusion, and despair as he tells of his harsh encounter with cold reality after his banishment from the protective aura of his family’s “white picket fence.”
Jedi Mind Tricks – Black Winter Day
The song title should be enough to give you a hint of this song’s subject matter. Dark, cold, and gritty, this song details the daily struggle as only Vinnie Paz can do. In the final verse, Paz begins by saying, “I don’t wanna be a burden to y’all, I just wanna know exactly what my purpose is.” The pain of not feeling insignificant, unimportant, and alone is unlike any other, and Paz gives us a firsthand glimpse into the life of one so detached and weary that he has begun to disconnect himself emotionally from the world.