Like many of you, I've just read the reports that Kanye West's mom, Dr. Donda West, passed away Saturday night in Los Angeles. While there is speculation as to the cause of death, what prompted the 58-year-old woman's sudden passing has not been confirmed.
I have contacted spokespersons from his label and have not yet received a response.
This is horrible news and I send my regards to Kanye and the entire family.
In my writings over the years, I have joked a lot about Kanye, mainly referring to him as a guilty pleasure because I love his music but struggle with accepting his boisterous personality. Despite this, I admit the excitement I felt when he recently topped 50 Cent in their September 11 record sales battle to see which MC would come out on top with the best first week sales numbers. Kanye did it in a big way, besting 50 by 260,000 album sales. Kanye almost sold a million copies in one week.
I think we can all agree that our connection with Kanye's music has a great deal to do with his message. Whether it was him blurting out "President Bush doesn't care about Black people" just days after the Hurricane Katrina devastation, his brutal honesty in his debut single "Through The Wire" that chronicled his near death experience or his own admittance that he sometimes "acts more stupidly" as he raps in "Can't Tell Me Nothing," he has represented one of hip hop's most significant voices.
Kanye is not Tupac, but he delivers the same type of honesty that people either love or hate.
Without a doubt, Kanye's upbringing has everything to do with who he is today. So we can not celebrate his successes without also acknowledging his mother. We owe Dr. West thanks for giving us a son whose contribution to hip hop would forever impact the genre. It has been great during his reign to see that hip hop's influence transcends just gangsta rap.
In May, Dr. West published the book Raising Kanye: Life Lessons From The Mother Of A Hip-Hop Star. Since 2004, she has been working with her son, including serving as chief executive of West Brands LLC, as well as the chairwoman of his Kanye West Foundation educational nonprofit program.
Donda West worked as a professor at Brown College and Chicago State University. At the latter, she was a former chairwoman of the English department.
On Kanye's Late Registration album he dedicated the song "Hey Mama" to her.
In one verse he rapped about her support of his pursuit of his hip hop career:
"Forrest Gump mama said, life is like a box of chocolates,
My mama told me go to school, get your doctorate,
Somethin to fall back on, you could profit with,
But still supported me when I did the opposite"
Thank you Dr. Donda West.
May you rest in peace.
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