Monday, June 14, 2010
On Repeat: Kanye West - Power
You may not guess the subject of this caricature, but after I tell you it's Kanye West you'll see it. When I say it is Kanye West, I mean it IS Kanye West. Opinions accompany every exhale, exploding with the fiery snarl of a chained animal. A flared eye reflects a primal disconnect, while the other is locked into a leery squint. His default is set to Jekyll, and nothing short of a serious hit to his psyche can shake him into any semblance of compassion and tact. Say what you will about these attributes in a person, but in a rapper, this swagger is requisite.
Kanye's newest single "Power" is a microcosm of what makes him a musical genius. Gone are the 808s and shiny autotune of 808's and Heartbreak, returning to the brilliant sampling and lyrical hubris that made his first 3 albums shoo-ins into the hip-hop pantheon. Handclaps and tribal chants provide an a capella red carpet for Kanye to dance out on, and dance does he ever. He can't even stand to wait for the guitar and drums to come in, the verse galloping out of him with a familiar assuredness. When bass groan gives way to a sample of King Crimson's "21st Century Schizoid Man", any apprehensions about Mr. West have been laid to rest. And for those of you expecting introspection or remorse from someone who has been dartboard fodder for the better part of the last year, don't hold your breath. He spares no venom here, delivering verbal middle fingers to SNL and assorted haters, squeezing in extra syllables to specifically exactly what part of his ass they can kiss (the hole, of course). Between barbs he is his own PR man, billing himself as a superhero martyr, even going so far as to pull Dwele in to romanticize jumping to your death in the song's final moments. Not sure where Kanye comes down on the topic of suicide, but I'm sure he has an opinion on it.