1. 2pac, “Dear Mama”
The mom-love-rap-song par excellence, and a song so powerful that in 2010 the Library of Congress deemed it worthy of being preserved in the National Recording Registry. Its expression of love is unbridled: In its first bars, Shakur nods, "You are appreciated," before outlining his teenage misdemeanors up until jail time—and the stress he's given his mother: "I finally understand as a women it ain't easy to raise a man." What makes it such a tear-jerker—Eminem's favorite song, no less—is that Shakur's flow is rueful but respectful, never hammy. Similarly, the samples (the Spinners and Joe Sample) are pretty but not cloying. The fact that he died a year after its release, age 25, makes it even harder listening. Something in your eye, you say?