“24” by Kanye West

The song “24” was inspired by and can also be deemed as a tribute to, to some extent, the death of Kobe Bryant. 

Kobe Bryant, who you’ve undoubtedly heard of before, was a former professional athlete, an international superstar actually, who died, at the age of 41, in a totally tragic helicopter crash during January of 2020. 

Now any person with a developed mind knows that any of us, in reality, can go at any time. Yet and still, the passing of Kobe can easily be dubbed the most shocking death of a famous person thus far in the 21st century. 

The Premise of “24”

And apparently it is that aspect of his passing which Yeezus is using as the premise of this piece. So this song isn’t about Bryant being a highly-skilled and successful basketball player, despite basketball being the sport hip-hoppers tend to relish the most. 

In fact Kobe’s name is never actually mentioned, and if a listener doesn’t know the aforementioned premise beforehand, chances are you’re not going to figure it out simply by listening to the song. Instead Donda is by and large a religious album. 

And Kanye, as already stated, is using the death of Kobe to rather tackle the topic of death in general, which by the way tends to be one of the more frequent subjects discussed as far as religion goes.

And what West is saying on the matter, once again taking the unpredictability of death into consideration, is that ‘we gotta make it right before we go’. Or put more simply, listeners are being advised to repent while they possess the opportunity to do so.

If You are Alive, God isn’t Done With You Yet!

Also, Kanye cites a popular understanding behind the Christian belief system, or perhaps we can say behind religion in general.  And that’s the idea that if a person is actually alive and kicking, then that means they have an unfulfilled purpose on Earth or that “God is not finished” with them, as stated by West. 

Another way of commonly understanding that statement is that so long as a person is living, s/he can still improve. 

So taking the idea presented in the previous paragraph and considering it in conjunction with this one, what Yeezus is basically doing is challenging listeners to be a better person tomorrow than they are today and a better person today than they were yesterday.

Song’s Title (“24”)

Now concerning the title and Kobe Bryant references, again Bryant himself is never referred to directly. Rather what Kanye does go about doing is mentioning “24 hours” and “24 candles” in the chorus, with “24” being the Kobe’s jersey number throughout the latter part of his career.  

And said chorus in and of itself is actually used primarily for the purpose of praising God. 

Indeed “God” is mentioned more times in this song than any of its predecessors on the tracklist of Donda. And besides being utilized as mentioned above, said references also, in the intro serve the purpose of depicting the Most High as ‘the only one who can make right’. 

Or put differently, if a person finds themselves in a really tight spot or dealing with a situation they can’t overcome no matter what, it is only God who can rectify such matters. Or viewed alternatively, another common Christian/religious belief is that the world is in such a messed up state that it is only through the intervention of the Most High that things will ultimately be set back to the way they were intended to be.

All in All

So going back to the playlist of Donda, “24” would also be the most consistently-religious track we’ve thus far come across on the playlist. This song doesn’t feature any other major artists. Furthermore, Kanye himself doesn’t bring up any significant personal matters or statements into the equation. 

Reports that Kanye West and Kobe Bryant were like besties may be a bit exaggerated. But we do know that they were familiar with each other, being fellow Los Angeles-based celebrities and all. 

As such, Kanye was affected by the death of Kobe in a more personalized manner than us laymen. But as implied earlier, Bryant’s passing was an incident that affected everybody, not only famous people. In fact it was such a powerful occurrence that it led to West penning and releasing a song honoring his life and God in 24.

Kanye West's "24" Lyrics

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