Kanye West, the usually irrepressible rap superstar, was in mourning yesterday after the sudden death of his mother from complications resulting from cosmetic surgery.
Donda West, who was 58, gave up her career as an academic three years ago to become her son's manager at the start of what was to become a platinum-selling recording career.
She died in a Los Angeles hospital on Saturday. Her publicist, Patricia Green, said she died "as the result of complications from a cosmetic surgical procedure" but gave no further details. West's spokesman said the family "asks for privacy during this time of grief".
The 30-year-old rapper often spoke publicly of his close relationship with his mother. She raised him alone after her husband, a photojournalist, left when West was three.
Ms West, a former head of English at Chicago State University, was the subject of West's song "Hey Mama", from his 2005 album Late Registration. West had just flown in to London on Saturday to film a music video when he received news of her death. He immediately returned to Los Angeles.
His fellow rapper Jay-Z paid tribute to Ms West during a concert in Manhattan on Sunday night. Asking for a minute of silence from his audience, he said: "Let's get serious for a minute. This show is dedicated to Kanye West, who had a death in the family. We got you, Kanye. Stay strong."
The bereavement comes at a time of increasing success for West. His most recent album, Graduation, sold nearly a million copies in its first week of release.
In the song "Hey Mama", he speaks of his gratitude to his mother for standing by him, even when he ignored her advice and dropped out of school to pursue a career in hip hop music. West wrote: "Forrest Gump mama said 'life is like a box of chocolates'/My mama told me go to school, get your doctorate/Something to fall back on, you could profit with/But still supported me when I did the opposite." In her role as her son's manager, Ms West acted as the chief executive of West Brands, which spanned all of West's business enterprises. She was also the chairwoman of the Kanye West Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to improving literacy among inner-city teenagers and encouraging them to stay in education.
In May, she published the book Raising Kanye: Life Lessons From The Mother Of A Hip-Hop Star, in which she paid homage to her famous son.