Coldest Winter (song)
|Song by Kanye West|
|from the album 808s & Heartbreak|
|Released||November 24, 2008|
"Coldest Winter" is a song by American hip hop artist Kanye West, from his fourth studio album 808s & Heartbreak. It was produced by West, with co-production from No I.D. and additional production from Jeff Bhasker. The track was covered by a cappella group Pentatonix on their 2016 album A Pentatonix Christmas. It is about the passing of Kanye's mother Donda West. West performed the song live thrice on The Yeezus Tour. The music video was officially released in February 2010, which includes a revamped version for the audio.
Composition and recording
The vocal chorus from 1983 track "Memories Fade" by English pop rock band Tears for Fears is repurposed within the song. Co-producer No I.D. revealed that he was the one who came across "Memories Fade" when sitting around listening to records from the 1980s and played it for West - as soon as No I.D. heard West make usage of the track, he knew it was special. "Coldest Winter" is centered around the passing of Kanye's mother Donda that occurred in November 2007 - she was very important to Kanye, since he was quoted after her death as saying to MTV: "My mother was my everything" and showed that they had a connection through music when Donda was alive by saying: "My mother always kept me around music. She was also my first manager." When performing at Madison Square Garden on November 24, 2013 during The Yeezus Tour, West went into the story of how he wrote it after her death.
On October 16, 2008, an excerpt of the track was released by West on the radio station Power 106 in Los Angeles, around one month before the featuring album was released. A slightly revamped version of it was used when West released the music video on February 24, 2010.
Michael Roffman of Consequence of Sound branded the song's position as the closing track as showing in conjunction to West's previous three studio albums that "808s slams the door on it all, explaining why there's so much hate, self-aggrandizing, and animosity on everything of his that's come out since'. Scott Plagenhoef of Pitchfork pointed out 'the 909 and descending synth' of "Coldest Winter" as being "among the sonic highlights" of the album.
After West had finished performing the track on October 26, 2013 in Los Angeles during The Yeezus Tour, a beast with red eyes appeared. When West performed the first concert in New York City on the same tour, the song was part of his set list. As well as this, he performed it when taking The Yeezus Tour to Madison Square Garden on November 24, 2013 and went into the story of writing about his mother passing away after it happened, which was a glimpse of vulnerability for West. At the 2015 Hollywood Bowl, West performed the song live with fake snow, which gathered notable attention from his fanbase. The snow was unleashed above the audience during the performance.
The music video was officially released on the internet on February 24, 2010 and was directed by Nabil Elderkin. Elderkin gave a heads up for viewers on how haunting it's going to be two days before the release. A revamped version of "Coldest Winter" was used for the audio of the video. Stereogum wrote in response to this version being used by describing the new track as feeling so cold that it is "Total beat wraith." In the music video, a bride is depicted running through a forest in slow motion and West doesn't appear at all. Elderkin said of West's approach to his videos at the time:
He didn't want to be in 'Paranoid,' to be honest. There was more Kanye in 'Paranoid' [originally], and I took him out. He's just cool right now with putting out visuals that fit the song without having to be in it. I think he's in that place in his life where right now he just wants to make art.
- 808s & Heartbreak. Roc-A-Fella Records (Media notes). Kanye West. 2008. 0-06025-1791919-8.CS1 maint: others (link)
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