Kanye West - 'Power'
Oh interesting! The last time Kanye worked up a beat which was so heavily reliant on noises which can be made by the human body - voices and handclaps - was 'Jesus Walks'. All the voices were male, and the song was about surrendering yourself to a higher power. It was expressed in quite firm, almost brutal terms, and framed within the argument that Kanye himself had to battle in order to express devotion to his deity within the strictly secular world of bad boy hip hop. And it was delivered with fire and passion and impeccable logic.
It is also, to a lot of people, the best thing he ever did.
This time, the chanting voices are all girls, and the the higher power seems to be Kanye himself. All humility has been surrendered in order to settle some scores, to redress the balance back in his favour, to put to rest the idea that he's gone a bit too far in recent times - the vocoder album, the awards ceremonies. But in order to do it he has had to go back and remind people that this is what they liked about him in the first place, so you could call it a return to his older ideas, or even a retreat.
21st century schizoid man indeed...
(Here's some of the video. It's heavenly.)
Speaking of which, you've got to hand it to the man for whacking a sample of a song by King Crimson (ask your tie-dye clad grandad) into the mix. Especially as he's left in that first guitar "DAAAANG!" after the drum fill, and then scratched it out, like it was super-old school LL Cool J or something. That makes this less a song and more a stone skimmed across the surface of over 40 years of popular culture: sixties, eighties, naughties and now tenties.
Of course, that's the whole idea. Kanye seems keen to prove not only that he is BACK, but that he is still, in some way, exactly what the world has been waiting for. The real talent in getting an idea like this across lies in convincing your audience without reducing them to helpless giggles. That's where the gravitas comes in. Everything has to be very serious, very strident, from the first po-faced chants to the little suicide/martyrdom fantasy at the end.
There's a comparison to be made with Eminem, whose strongest work is often when he's pointing out his worst flaws. Kanye, by comparison, thrives on dramatising his astonishing brilliance to such a degree it feels like a military invasion. For all that '808s and Heartbreak' threw that chippy shell to one side for a bit and exposed a fragile underbelly, it's this martial certainty, this deep-rooted assurance that he is right and the world needs to catch up, that carries Kanye along.
He's overcompensating, of course. No-one believed he was anything more than a good producer to start with, y'see. Bound to leave a chip on the shoulder. But still, as long as he has himself on his side, there's not a lot anyone can do to stop him.
Helium says: "Judging from the fan response to 'Power,' very few are concerned about the potentially harmful messages that are included in the song."
We Rate Stuff says: "Kanye gets good and creative on this one, varying up his methods and rhythm as often as he feels like it."
Rawkblog says: "If Yeezy was cowed at all after the Taylor Swift incident, he doesn't show it here."