Hip-hop has always been regarded as a pure form of expression. The lyrics make the song amazing. But dark thoughts have not been a foreign concept for the genre. Not all hip-hop songs are joyful and happy. There are also sad rap songs.
For many years, hip-hop has treated pain, mental health issues, and similar topics. Rappers have embraced vulnerability in recent years.
We have to think of rappers as people just like the rest of us. They too have feelings. They are dealing with their own shit. In that spirit, let’s talk about the best sad rap songs you can listen to. Of course, if you have the stomach for it.
U – Kendrick Lamar
Kendrick Lamar is one of the best rappers nowadays. He is famous for creating powerful songs, and this one is definitely on the sad side. He found inspiration for this song during Kanye’s Yeezus rout. One event inspired him to write the song.
The American rapper revealed U was one of the most challenging songs for him to compose. The track treats topics like insecurities, selfishness, and letdowns.
Basically, it is a sad rap song about life.
All That I Got Is You – Ghostface Killah ft. Mary J Blige
RZA produced the song. It served as Ghostface’s debut solo single. The song is a part motherly tribute, part youthful angst. But in general, it is blunt emotion and raw expression of feelings.
Suicidal Thoughts – The Notorious B.I.G.
The song made it to Biggie’s debut album, Ready to Die. Who would have thought the rapper was having this type of thought? Death was a common theme in his music.
But it reached the climax at the closing of the album, Suicidal Thoughts. Instead of mulling over lost loved ones, Biggie turns the gun on himself due to mounting stress.
It remains one of the biggest twists in music. Almost three decades later, the song still evokes emotion.
Dance with the Devil – Immortal Technique
This is a song about a guy deciding to join a gang. There, he has to attack and rape a woman for initiation. But he realizes it is his mother when he looks into her face. Sounds sad and weird enough for you?
The song emphasizes how crimes within the community often result in your own personal demise. And of course, hurting your family members.
The theme has a dark and sinister feel thanks to the sampled piano beat.
Brenda’s Got a Baby – 2pac
Tupac Shakur has a lot of sad rap songs. He was so great, that he could rap about anything in life. 2pac has sad songs, happy songs, and even some philosophical songs.
In this song, the hip-hop artist showed his ability to tackle the complex and difficult subject matter. The song was inspired by a true story he read in a newspaper.
But then 2pac weaves a fictional plot about teen pregnancy and child abandonment.
Kim – Eminem
Quite frankly one of the saddest songs ever, let alone the saddest rap song. The song appeared on his Marshall Mathers LP. That album produced many sad and weird songs.
But Kim is the most disturbing among them. In the song, he kills his daughter’s mother and her boyfriend and stepson.
The song is famous because of the betrayal of his ex-wife leaving the mark on the record. Even though nothing of the things in the song actually happened, the violence is still jarring.
Tearz – Wu-Tang Clan
RZA produced the song and delivered some of the best verses. He raps about the death of his little brother, while Ghostface Killah raps about a reckless friend contracting HIV.
They both tell the story with a painful personal touch. Some of the lyrics hit particularly hard, especially when RZA says “Aw man” rather than “dead” to describe his sibling.
Six Feet Deep – Geto Boys
Scarface and his catalog is littered with stories that detail the struggle of coming to grips with murder in the urban community. This one has a stark reality of untimely death, making the song especially tragic.
Retrospect for Life – Common ft. Lauryn Hill
You can rarely find topics like abortion discussed in hip-hop songs. But Common goes to a special extent in this hit single.
In the song, it appears he has come to terms with the decision. But then a somber tone of regret lingers. The end result is a sad story.
For some fans, knowing that the unborn child’s non-existent life may be better than the circumstances into which it would have been born is satisfying.
4 Your Eyez Only – J Cole
This best song is about J Cole and his childhood friend James McMillan Jr. He died at the young age of 22 and the song conveys the love that Cole had for his friend. But also the love for his little girl and little boy. He repeatedly repeats “for your eyes” throughout the song.
Keisha’s Song – Kendrick Lamar
Here is another sad rap song by Kendrick Lamar. In this one, he tries to teach his little sister not to become a prostitute. For that purpose, he uses a narrative tragedy as an example.
Kendrick is not much famous for using graphic language and profane lyrics. But in this single, he uses that to convey his message.
Many rap fans consider the song one of the best sad rap songs that teaches life lessons.
Jocelyn Flores – XXXTentacion
The song commemorates Jocelyn Amparo Flores, a 16-year-old girl from The Bronx. She met XXXTentacion while on vacation in Florida. Later on, she committed suicide and the rapper wanted to commemorate her.
I’ll Be Missing You – Puff Daddy ft. Faith Evans
The song was such a huge hit. And it was one of the best tributes for a rapper. We often forget its original purpose and intent.
Sean Combs lost a best friend and creative partner Notorious Big. Faith Evans lost a husband and father to her children. Listening to this song always brings back memories of Biggie.
Song Cry – Jay Z
When you listen to Jay Z and his songs dealing with heavy personal subject matter, you get a sense he achieved some level of closure. But there is no happy ending in this song.
The song tells a story about how Jay Z broke a young woman’s heart, had his broken in return, and now has to live with that forever.
Sing About Me, Dying of Thirst – Kendrick Lamar
We just cannot get enough of Kendrick Lamar. The American rapper is one of the most popular hip-hop artists in the past few years. This song has emotional lyricism and an innovative approach to rapping. That made it one of the most famous sad rap songs by Kendrick Lamar.
Divided into two parts, the first one tells the story of Kendrick’s friend Dave who died from gun violence. The second part tells about the struggles of a young girl turning to prostitution to survive.
Beautiful – Eminem
Christina Aguilera sang Beautiful as a pop hit. Eminem used the same title for a sad rap song. Released in 2009, it is part of his sixth studio album, Relapse. Eminem started writing the song while in rehab in 2005.
Yet, he didn’t finish it until he got clean in 2010. At that point, he added a third verse and released the track on the album.
In the song, Slim Shady talks about how he feels about his life and what has been going on.
Slippin – DMX
DMX released the song as the first single of his second studio album, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood.
The song is sad enough, but the music video takes things to a whole new level. In the video, we see a glimpse of the rapper’s youth.
He wrote this song to express what life is like on the streets and how people can overcome life with drugs. You just have to give it your all.
Stan – Eminem
Let’s finish off the list with the saddest song in history. Many consider this song the best sad rap song ever. Eminem used the song to detail the way fans act toward celebrities.
In six minutes, the song tells the story of an obsessed fan whose hero worship and probable mental illness caused him to die young. Critics consider the song a signature song by Eminem.