A Mother’s Song

Rap superstar Kanye West believes his mother sent a message through his music.

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Posted in , Jan 12, 2015

Daniel Kessel.

Today’s guest blogger is assistant editor Daniel Kessel.

"Have you ever experienced the power of mother's intuition?” We asked that question last week on Facebook and were overwhelmed with the answers we received.

Since then, I’ve been thinking of the powerful bond between mothers and their children and the stories that prove it–like this one from rap superstar Kanye West.

It’s well-known how much Kanye adored his mother Donda, a strong single mom who always supported his creativity. At the 2008 Grammy Awards, after winning his third Best Rap Album Grammy, Kanye dedicated his acceptance speech to Donda, who had passed away just a few months earlier.

"I know you wouldn't want me to stop,” he said. “You want me to be the number one artist in the world, and Mama, all I'm going to do is keep making you proud." 

Kanye has undoubtedly stayed faithful to that promise, going on to win a total of 21 Grammys to date and becoming one of the best-selling artists of all time.

His only regret? That Donda never had a chance to meet North, his 18-month-old baby girl. Kanye knew that she would love her granddaughter the way she’d always loved him–completely and unconditionally, from the bottom of her heart.

Last year, Kanye began a new collaboration with Beatles legend Paul McCartney, the two musicians meeting in a small Los Angeles bungalow to brainstorm ideas.

One day, with McCartney jamming on the keyboards, Kanye free-styled, improvising a rap about his daughter and sketching his ideas out loud.

But when they played back the recording of the session later that day, Kanye had a strange feeling: He hardly recognized the words of his rap. Hello, my only one, he’d sung. Just like the morning sun, you'll keep on rising till the sky knows your name.

As he held North in his lap, Kanye listened to the lyrics in bewilderment. Where had the rap come from? He had no recollection of coming up with it. But if he hadn’t made it up, where else could it have come from?

Hello, my only one, the recording continued. Just then, it hit him. Kanye’s mom had often reminded him why she’d chosen his name. According to her, “Kanye” meant “only one.” The voice on the recording was his, but the words weren’t. They were hers.

"My mom was singing to me,” Kanye stated in a press release, “and through me to my daughter.”

As Kanye looked down at his beloved daughter, he realized that the love he felt for his daughter was the same love his mother had felt for him.

Donda may never have met her granddaughter North in the flesh, but in writing the song "Only One", Kanye had no doubt that Donda was there with him and his new family in spirit.

What about you–have you and your mother shared a special bond through music? What songs remind you of her? Share your stories with us!

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