DONDA – [Kanye West]

Anyone who knows anything about Kanye West knows just how important his mother was in his life. Donda played a pivotal role in supporting him and being there every time he needed her during his early days in music all the way through some of the biggest moments of his career as he was first starting to take off. Although she, unfortunately, passed away over a decade ago, her spirit stays alive and well through her son and she still plays a massive part in his drive for success. As far as his latest offering is concerned, this might not be the first time he has paid homage to his mom via music, and it definitely won’t be his last, but he took to Twitter last night in honor of Donda’s birthday to release a song for her, using her name as the title as well.

At the beginning of this track, for almost three-quarters of it, you can hear Kanye’s mother reciting lyrics from KRS-One, a legendary rapper from The Bronx who always had something powerful to preach about within his lyrics. Full transparency, I’m not overly familiar with the rapper himself and I only knew that these were his lyrics because Ye stated it in the tweet he shared the song in, but once you listen to the words being spoken, the content is more important and relevant now than ever. Themes of police brutality and social injustice are spoken about in such a raw, powerful manner and there’s just something even more potent about hearing Donda’s spoken word rendition that really makes these ideas open your eyes more than ever before. Eventually, background piano chords and a sample of a choir of some sort enter into the scene and add a bit of spirituality and rhythm that begins to bring this offering from a spoken word masterpiece to an actual song.

Out of nowhere, with only about 45 seconds left within the song, Kanye busts onto the track singing in his heavily autotuned, extremely passionate delivery. After a few quick lines, he ditches the singing to state some religious and pious facts that ring true for certain people more than others, undoubtedly. It’s clear that Kanye’s mom is with him in the booth while he’s recording this one because you can just feel his emotion and the significance of his messages through the intonations within his voice. Although some of the lines he spits are somewhat abstract and not straight to the point, I believe he is talking about some of the mistakes he has made in recent history and how he’s trying his best to break these tendencies and become a better person. Additionally, he’s pretty much praying to the skies and asks his mom to be there for him and steer him in the right direction to make better choices moving forward.

There’s also a music video that Kanye included in the tweet which is even more abstract than some of the messages in the record at times, so it’s one of those things you just kind of need to see to interpret in your own way. There are old-school recordings of various different types that seem to take us on a journey around the world and as soon as Kanye comes in, this seems to be the only modern-day clip. In this shot, he’s walking on a tropical island with the ocean in his rearview as he ties a sweatshirt to a palm tree before the video returns to retro shots of him and his earlier life. Once again, I’m not entirely sure where these recordings came from, but I know that there’s a much more meaningful and educational significance to them than what’s on the surface. What’s craziest to me is the complete 180 this song took when compared to his last release with Travis Scott “Wash Us in Blood”, because that was a lot more gritty and rugged. Nonetheless, I love the diversity and dynamic styles Kanye is working with so I’m excited to see what’s next musically from the Chicago icon. As you check out the new song and video for Kanye’s late mother entitled “DONDA”, keep her in your thoughts and make sure her legacy lives on as an example for mothers all over the world.