Who was Kanye West's mother Donda?

Kanye West pays tribute to his mother, who died suddenly in 2007

US hip-hop star Kanye West poses with his mother Donda prior to signing copies of 'Raising Kanye: Life Lessons From The Mother Of A Hip-Hop Superstar' on June 30, 2007 in London. Getty Images
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Kanye West has released his new album, Donda, it has been announced.

West's highly anticipated new album, which has finally been released after months of delays, features 27 songs with tracks featuring a number of singers and rappers across its 108-minutes.

The album, West's tenth, is named after his mother, Donda West, who died in November 2007. It follows 2019’s Jesus Is King and was supposed to come out in July 2020, but has been delayed.

Who was Donda West?

Donda was born on July 12, 1949 in Oklahoma, US. She gave birth to Kanye in 1977, in Georgia, moving three years later to Chicago, following her divorce.

She died suddenly aged 58 following complications from plastic surgery.

Donda had worked in the English department at Chicago State University, but she retired from academia to work with her son as his manager. She wasn't always keen on his career choice, however, particularly when he dropped out of college. "It was drummed into my head that college is the ticket to a good life," she wrote in her book, Raising Kanye: Life Lessons from the Mother of a Hip-Hop Superstar, which was released in May 2007, only five months before she died.

"But some career goals don't require college," she continued. "For Kanye to make an album called The College Dropout it was more about having the guts to embrace who you are, rather than following the path society has carved out for you."

Kanye's devotion to his mother was clear, as she accompanied him to many red carpet events and was heavily involved in his life.

Her death was a huge shock to Kanye. Donda had undergone liposuction, tummy tuck and breast reduction, which had gone well. However, she died at home a day later, an autopsy revealing she had a pre-existing heart condition that likely led to her death.

A law named the Donda West Law was later passed in her honour, requiring plastic surgeons to ensure patients have had a physical exam and written clearance from a doctor within 30 days before elective cosmetic surgery.

A grief so strong

Kanye has grieved publicly for his mother in the 12 years that have passed since. He was back on stage merely 12 days later, almost in tears as he dedicated his song Hey Mama to her.

He's also said that he blames himself for her death. "If I had never moved to LA she'd be alive," he said in a 2015 interview with Q magazine. "I don't want to go far into it because it will bring me to tears."

In 2020, after Kim Kardashian broke her silence about her then-husband's increasingly worrying behaviour, she said, among other things, that he was still dealing with "the painful loss of his mother".

On what would have been Donda's 71st birthday, in July 2020, Kanye released a new two-minute song via Twitter and it opened with a recording of her reciting the lyrics from KRS-One's 1993 single Sound of da Police.

No other details have been released about the new album, which is also referred to as Donda: With Child.

Thursday's listening event billed as Kanye West Presents: A Donda Listening Event, will take place at Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and tickets are being sold for $20 and $50.

Updated: August 30, 2021, 6:28 AM