At the 2008 Grammy Awards, rapper Kanye West surprised fans with a performance of “Hey Mama,” off his acclaimed 2005 album “Late Registration.”

Several months before the awards show, West’s mother, Donda West, passed away from complications following several cosmetic surgeries.

With that on his mind, West opted to perform “Hey Mama” on live television, a song written about the struggles his mother faced as a single mom and how much of an impact she had on his life.

In spite of his public image, which doesn’t always rouse positive feelings, West showed off raw emotion on the Grammy stage.

[graphiq id=”kV9MwFEbVdj” title=”Kanye West” width=”600″ height=”596″ url=”” link=”” link_text=”Kanye West | PrettyFamous”]

As his voice quivered, and he openly wept, West struggled to finish the song.

The Grammy audience was near silent as West serenaded his deceased mother, and sang how his real life wouldn’t begin until he fell asleep and was united with his mother in his dreams.

Seven years later West would again honor his mother with the song “Only One,” a tribute to his newly born daughter sung from the perspective of his mother, who the very religious West believes continues to watch over his family from heaven.

[graphiq id=”fqud8an9lPf” title=”Late Registration” width=”400″ height=”600″ url=”” link=”” link_text=”Visualization by Graphiq”]

Douglas Barclay is a Senior Editor at Rare. Follow him on Twitter @douglabarclay17
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