Two years ago when multiplatinum producer and rapper Kanye West was making the rounds to promote his much-anticipated sophomore album, "Late Registration," he talked to critics about what went into creating the album, which took on everything from conflict diamonds in Sierra Leone to disgruntled, gold-digging women.Not really a fan of Kayne or honestly I've never really listened to his work, but may his mother rest in peace.
Then there was the song "Hey Mama," a tribute to his mother, Donda, a former Chicago State University English professor who'd often told her son he needed a college education in order to be successful.
"Hey," West said at the time, "we need something to perform at the Grammys."
But it was more than just a song that could be embraced by a mainstream audience. It was a salute to a mother who, despite her scholastic achievements, stood by her son when he decided to drop out of college and pursue a childhood fantasy of becoming a hip-hop star.
In the tune, he raps, "Forrest Gump mama said 'life is like a box of chocolates'/My mama told me go to school, get your doctorate/Something to fall back on, you could profit with/But still supported me when I did the opposite."
Ms. West, 58, a longtime Chicago resident, died late Saturday or early Sunday in Los Angeles of undisclosed causes.
Other than confirming the death, a spokesman for Kanye West offered only a statement saying that "the family respectfully asks for privacy during this time of grief." The loss of his mother comes as a blow in an otherwise high time in West's life. The Grammy Award winner is celebrating what likely will be one of the best-selling albums of the year with his recent release "Graduation," which in its first week sold about 957,000 copies. Kanye West, who was in Chicago last week as a surprise guest for Jay-Z's "American Gangster" concert at the House of Blues, was overseas in London at the time of his mother's death. Friends close to him say that he is devastated.
The two shared an undeniable bond, as evidenced in the music West made and the public affinity they had for one another. This fall Ms. West released the book "Raising Kanye: Life Lessons from the Mother of a Hip-Hop Star," a memoir she'd penned with author Karen Hunter about bringing up her famous son.
In August, she told the Tribune: "He told me, 'There's no real acrimony between us -- there's no controversy.' [So] he didn't think people would buy [the book]. But I felt there are a lot of things about Kanye and I that might be beneficial to other mothers and their children."
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