Listen: Tupac’s Original Version Of “Dear Mama” Featuring Woman Rap Legend Yo Yo

There’s nothing like finding a demo version to one of your favorite songs. Here’s an original version of Tupac’s “Dear Mama”, a single that dropped in 1995 and originally featured a sample from woman emcee, and Ice Cube protege, Yo Yo. The song was originally a tribute and a gift to Tupac’s mother Afeni Shakur who passed away earlier this week. Afeni Shakur was not only Tupac’s mother, but a strong political activist, businesswoman, and the inspiration for Tupac’s persona in rap – a true icon.

Tupac – Dear Mama (OG Version ft. Yo Yo) 

DJ King Assassin, who was around for a lot of the recordings of Tupac’s “Me Against The World” album shared the version of the song this week in a mixtape tribute to Afeni. Yo Yo, a fellow MC and close friend of Tupac at the time, can be heard rapping a powerful womanist statement in the hook:

Wouldn’t be a damn thang without a woman.

The lyric taken from Yo Yo’s verse on Ice Cube’s “This Is A Man’s World”.  King Assasin explains the politics of why the woman’s vocal was removed from the record and replaced with the chorus that we all know today.

The original version of ‘Dear Mama’ was far different than the version that was released, as far as the hook was constructed. Originally, the hook was a sample of a song from the legendary rapper and friend of both of ours named Yo-Yo, from Ice Cube’s [Da] Lench Mob. The sample was ‘Wouldn’t be a damn thang without a woman,’ which was taken from the original song from Ice Cube’s ‘This Is A Man’s World,’ with the scratching done, of course, by yours truly DJ King Assassin. The day after we had finished up on everything we were in Echo Sound in L.A. when Tupac comes in the studio very upset and proceeds to explain to us that we had to take out Yo-Yo’s part because a person by the name of Pat Charbonet would not give us the clearance to use that part in the song, so we had no choice but to take it out and that’s where even the Richard Pryor excerpt, which you will hear, is completely off the released version of the song.”

It’s cool to hear this gem of a recording while remembering Afeni. A woman who said and believed:

Arts can save children, no matter what’s going on in their homes.


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