Of all the rap songs in my digital library, there are two that just about bring me to tears whenever I hear them. One of those songs is “Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst,” by Kendrick Lamar. The other song is one that countless people will undoubtedly be listening to this Mother’s Day weekend as we celebrate and honor the women who gave us life. That song is “Dear Mama,” by Tupac Shakur.

The song – released in 1995 – has generated more than 257 million streams on just one popular music streaming service. The main video for the song on YouTube has been viewed more than 395 million times.

I always knew “Dear Mama” was one of Tupac’s greatest hits. But I hadn’t known precisely how popular the song was until I edited an article in which A.D. Carson, a scholar of hip-hop at the University of Virginia, examines some of its complexities and nuances. He also looks at several of the many other songs that various rap artists – from Kanye West to Jay Z – have written as lyrical odes to their mothers.

“In hip-hop music,” Carson writes, “it sometimes seems as if songs to and about mothers are common enough that audiences might take them for granted.”

Carson notes that “Dear Mama” will inevitably gain more popularity thanks to a new documentary of the same name, which takes a look at Tupac’s relationship with his mother, Afeni Shakur, and the role that her revolutionary politics and her own life struggles played in shaping Tupac’s life and musical career. It’s a refreshing reminder that no matter what kind of music we enjoy, we’d have none of it – and really nothing at all – were it not for our mothers.

This week we also liked stories about TV shows about diplomats, abuse in restaurant kitchens and an ode to clothing moths.

Jamaal Abdul-Alim

Education Editor

Afenia Shakur (left). mother of Tupac Shakur (right). Getty Images

Tupac’s ‘Dear Mama’ endures as rap artists detail complex relationships with their mothers, street life and the pursuit of success

A.D. Carson, University of Virginia

From Tupac to Jay-Z, many a rap artist has set pen to paper to pay homage to the women who gave them birth.

Keri Russell plays a a nonpolitical straight shooter in a political role that she grudgingly accepts. Brian van der Brug / Contributor/Getty Images

‘The Diplomat’ negotiates expectations – and myths – about gender, power and politics

Karrin Vasby Anderson, Colorado State University

Although the series perpetuates the stereotype that politically ambitious women can’t be trusted in high office, it thoughtfully portrays the ubiquity of everyday sexism in political culture.

A JetBlue employee poses next to a Boston replica of London’s Big Ben before the launch of nonstop flights between Boston and London in 2022. David L. Ryan/The Boston Globe via Getty Images

Passport bottleneck is holding up international travel by Americans eager to see the world as COVID-19 eases

Jay L. Zagorsky, Boston University

Precautions taken in response to COVID-19 explain some but not all of the recent long delays in getting a passport.

The Conversation Quiz 🧠

  • Here’s the first question of this week’s edition:

    A jury has found that former President Donald Trump sexually abused journalist E. Jean Carroll in 1996. Where did the abuse happen?

    1. A. On Trump's private plane
    2. B. In a department store dressing room
    3. C. In a luxury suite at Yankee Stadium
    4. D. In a bathroom at Mar-a-Lago

    Test your knowledge