Single Review: Kanye West – ‘POWER’


Just what IS this song about, eh? Could it be about a person with a lot of power and arrogance? Well yes, but that’s a very shallow concept from a man with a mind like Kanye’s; there’d have to be something about this man, and what he does with the power, and how it affects people as well as how it eats away at the man himself for using the power to do wrong against innocent people whilst he forces them to worship him a peel him grapes everyday, before you could consider it a proper Kanye song.

Or something like that.

Well, Kanye has seriously tumbled off his pedestal since 2006, hasn’t he? Not only has he failed to top his single out-put quality since ‘Stronger’, he’s only made himself look like a complete clot – quite publicly – three times, including ruining little Taylor Swift’s first ever experience at a serious Awards Ceremony. Things don’t look good for the artistically vocal, controversial rapper.

Not to be tied down, Kanye is shaking off those incidents like, well… Kanye West but he really needs something big, ‘Stronger’-style big, something mainstream enough to appeal to people outside the US, but not so that it feels like he’s lost his touch or so it just comes across as desperate.

‘POWER’ opens to a female gospel chant, which is then leads onto him rapping over that á capella chanting about “Livin’ in the 21st Century/Doin’ something mean”, which it’s fair to say, it quite underwhelming upon hearing it for it’s face value – an artist needs to take pride in what they do, and nurture their songs like their own children, so maybe he’s hit another misfire with this one? Wrong. After that, the whole thing picks up, there a few synths, some strings, synth-brass and the drums are beefed up, making the whole thing sound less hollow and air-pocketed, and Kanye’s rapping seems to have picked up too thanks to the dramatic strings and percussion acking up his lyrics.

But it doesn’t answer the vital question – what is it about!? People tend to like to know what the songs they sing are about, or else you’d be in the shower hollering out some sexual/Occult reference and your mother will drop her china plates with shock.

Well, ‘POWER’ is an odd song – no secrets kept in that department – because to understand the song, you must first watch the video:

Despite being annoyingly short for a song that actually clocks in at 4:53, it says a hell of a lot. And to many it’s a jungle of Occult/Illuminati imagery, mythical creatures and pointless shock tactics, but silly old Kanye has given the game away far too easily: there’s only one item in the “moving portrait” you need to look at before this song makes a whole lot more sense.

The Sword of Damocles suspended above Kanye’s head: it’s all too easy to just blow it off as pointless or even go to the extreme and shout “ILLUMINATI :O ZOMG!!1!11! HE’S SOLD HIS SOUL!!!!11! JUST LIKE IT SAYS “TIME’S TICKING” IN THE SONG NGAARRRHHHH” or words to that effect but seriously, if people knew the story behind Damocles, they’d see this song and the sword in a hugely new light:

Damocles was a courtier of a very clever King called Dionysius II of Sarycuse. Seeing Damocles’ longing for glory, Dionysius offered to switch places for the day, so Damocles could live as a King. The legend goes that Damocles took full advantage – indulging in food, music, entertainment, sex, until then end of the day, when he just so happened to look up and see a sharpened sword poised directly above his head, suspended by a single horse-hair. He suddenly lost his appetite for all the things he loved; all the beautiful girls seemed cold and ugly; the food no longer satisfied him. So he asked Dionysius to release him from the nightmare; he no longer wanted to be privileged with such fortune.

Dionysius had successfully proven to Damocles a sense of the constant fear in which even great men live in.

It’s one of Kanye’s best tracks, and it’s a brilliant return to form, but the main problem facing ‘POWER’ is that it may prove to be less commercial than his past hits like ‘Stronger’. Why? Because no-one reads into music anymore. And when they do, it’s to try a piece together segments from about twenty different puzzles to try and prove someone is linked to the Illuminati. It’s no mystery that few will understand what the song or the video is really about. Seems like the utter bile driving British music into the ground like Roll Deep, Taio Cruz, and N-Dubz have made people forget when music was written for a reason other than “let’s go out and party” or “make love to me I’m being slutty with my innuendos, AYO”.

Rating: 5.0 STARS

Download: August 30, 2010

Featured Album: ‘Dark Twisted Fantasy’

So the portrait makes a lot more sense now doesn’t it? The girls and angels surrounding him are the women Damocles used for entertainment, and Kanye is Damocles himself, living in a world where he fears those greater than him have nothing to fear and have all the happiness they could ever want with the click of a finger, but as we can see from Kanye’s current situation – taking a short trip to the throne – there can be nothing happy for a person that fear looms over so incessantly, with the sword being a reminder of the peril faced by those in the positions of power, like Kanye’s success has been eating away at him, seeing him become more commercial and distanced from his ‘Jesus Walks’ roots; Kanye fears he may end up doing a Chris Brown, ignored by his fans because of what he’s done.

In terms of lyrics, this song passes with flying colours, “No man should ever have that much power/Clock keeps tickin’ I just count the hours/Stop trippin’, I’m trippin’ off the power”, which could be referring the fact he thinks he was wrong to do what he did to Taylor Swift, claiming he shouldn’t have the “power” to do. But the last line says something on top of that: he saying to us that he can’t stop being… let’s face it, a bit of a knob, and despite his best efforts, he finds himself tripping over his “power” to piss people off. It’s arrogant and afraid at the same time.

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