Donda

Album: single release only (2020)

Songfacts®:

  • Dr. Donda West, the mother of Kanye West, was born on July 12, 1949. Donda West was a single mom, and Kanye was her only child. After stints as professor of English at Clark Atlanta University and the Chair of the English Department at Chicago State University, she retired to serve as his manager.

    Kanye's mom passed away aged 58 in late November 2007 due to heart problems resulting from cosmetic surgery. This prompted Governor Schwarzenegger to sign the "Donda West Law" legislation, making it mandatory to prove well-being prior to undergoing cosmetic surgery.

    Kanye West dropped this song on July 12, 2020, named after his late mother on what would have been her 71st birthday.
  • The song opens with a recording of Donda West reciting lyrics from KRS-One's 1993 single "Sound Of Da Police" over a soulful backdrop. The lines address systemic oppression.
  • Kanye comes in two-thirds of the way through, vowing to "start a revolution" and alluding to "fake leaders." He concludes with the hope of ending racism "once and for all." The release of the song came a few weeks after the rapper announced his bid to run for president of the United States.
  • West also speaks to his mother, expressing his need for her.

    Momma, I need you to tuck me in
    I done made some mistakes and they rubbed it in
    I know you and grandma had enough for them
    Why I gotta be so stubborn then?


    West previously addressed his mother on his 2005 song "Hey Mama," where he tells her how proud he is of her. Donda West used it as her ringtone on her cellphone. Other Kanye West songs about his mother include:

    2008 "Coldest Winter," Kanye's graveside eulogy for his late mom.

    2011 "Mama's Boyfriend" where he talks about his mother's love interests after she divorced his father when Kanye was three years old.

    2014 "Only One," a collaboration with Paul McCartney that came out of the pair bonding over the losses of their mothers.
  • The pitched-up instrumental and vocal is a sample from The Clark Sisters' 1980 song "They Were Overcome By The Word." West interpolates part of that tune before his verse, when he declares:

    Blood of the lamb
    Can I hear me a little bit louder?
    They will overcome


    This links to the theme of West's 2020 single "Wash Us In The Blood" where he outlines how we're all equal in God's eyes as we've all been cleansed of our sins by Jesus' blood on the cross.

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