One of hip hop’s most iconic (and polarizing) figures, Kanye West has released his second new song in a two week span.
Yesterday, on July 12, West took to Twitter to share his newest song, a birthday dedication for his late mother, Donda West, who passed away in 2007. The song serves as a classic West blend of soulfulness and politics, as he takes aim at America’s political leaders.
The song opens with Donda West reciting lyrics from KRS-One’s 1993 anthem “Sound of da Police,” specifically his second verse in which he compares police officers to the slave overseers of old. As she is reciting, West’s production enters into the listener’s ear, as his classic soulful style that made him famous helps buttress the lyrics his mother is speaking. West eventually comes in with his own lyrics, proudly declaring “We goin to start a revolution in this basement.” West adds, “Y’all had y’all fake leaders, don’t worry we got it,” and later indirectly alludes to his promise to run for office, “I’m doin this one for y’all, so we can end racism once and for all.”
Although the often controversial West is quick to inject his own personal agenda into his art, there is no denying the stability that his family has provided for West time and time again throughout his career. West first wrote a song about his mother when he penned “Hey Mama” on his 2005 sophomore album Late Registration, and originally discussed the importance of his family on “Family Business” from his debut 2004 album College Dropout. Both songs display West’s great capacity for emotion, and the positive impact that West’s family has had on him since his childhood.
While there are those who only know the modern Kanye West for his controversial statements and presidential ambitions, West used to exist as a young up and comer, hungry for a turn in the spotlight and a seat at the creative table. Of course, West got more than what he, or anyone else, may have expected, and critics and fans can only imagine what it must be like for someone who came from virtually nothing to accumulate an enormous amount of wealth, fame and power in just a few years time.
Despite West’s questionable motives and decisions he has made throughout his career, when West puts out a song like “DONDA,” fans are reminded of what West was like back when his career first began in the early 2000’s. An appreciation for music, soul and family were the building blocks for West’s music, and despite some politically charged lyrics, lines like “Mama I need you to tuck me in / I done made some mistakes and they rubbed it in” remind us that West is still aware of his humanity, even when he may act as if he is above the rest of us.
West has called himself a god in the past, but it is when West recognizes his own humanity that he is at his musical best.