Coldest Winter

Album: 808s & Heartbreak (2008)

Songfacts®:

  • This graveside eulogy was written by West for his mother Donda West, who died at the age of 58 in November 2007 following complications from cosmetic surgery. Donda was an academic who raised Kanye alone after her marriage broke up when he was three and was a constant presence at his side. West said at the album's listening party: "The irony for me, someone who has talked about so many labels - Louis Vuitton this, Benz that, this girl look good, I'm not going out with you if you don't look good - the irony, for me to lose the most important person to Hollywood."
  • West previously paid tribute to his mother on 2005's "Hey Mama."
  • On this song West borrows melodies and some lyrics from the Tears for Fears song "Memories Fade," which was a track on their 1983 album The Hurting.
  • The 808s & Heartbreak CD insert includes a fold-out photo of West with his mother.
  • A music video was filmed for a remixed version of this song, featuring added tribal drums and synths. It was directed by Nabil Elderkin who also helmed the clips for West's "Paranoid" and "Welcome to Heatbreak" West does not feature, instead it depicts a beautiful girl running through a dark forest as grim, hooded creatures chase after her. Elderkin told MTV News that due to the personal nature of this song, the video isn't as intense as their previous work together. "It's pretty minimalistic," he said. "It's slow and very visual. I just wanted to catch the vibe of the song and not get too literal. Because the lyrics are very close to Kanye and go much deeper than the video goes, obviously hearing the song you know it's very emotional."
  • The a cappella group Pentatonix covered this for their 2016 album, A Pentatonix Christmas. The group's Kevin Olusola told Artist Direct they chose songs like this one, "which isn't necessarily a holiday song at all," for their record as, "we thought it might be interesting, especially less common ideas, we kind of just like that for Christmas because it kind of turns people's heads and say, 'Woah, I would never expect that.'"

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