Kanye West wisely dropped out of sight after (again) embarrassing himself — and Taylor Swift — at MTV’s Video Music Awards last year. Has enough time passed to (again) forget about his immature shenanigans? Because today he dropped a new single, “Power.”
He’s definitely not slinking sheepishly back into the limelight. “Power” (whether this is a finished version or not) is indeed powerful — a muscled rhythm, a curious sample and some choice words. He’s been working on new tracks in Hawaii for an album tentatively titled “Good Ass Job.” He even showed up in New York this week to preview some of them. It sounds as if ‘Ye is at least glancing back to his rap roots. (Translation: No Auto-Tune!)
“Power” opens with rhythmic hand claps and some tribal wailing before Kanye says, “I’m living in the 21st century / doing something mean to it.” Thunderous percussion comes in quickly, with the same kind of rhythmic hustle we heard on “808s and Heartbreak.” Between verses, an interesting choice of sample: the title line of King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man.”
The words that follow are a rambling discourse on the apparent glories of power — “I guess every superhero needs his theme music” — but a grittier, street-level variety of it. The exciting thing is: West’s spittle is flying again. He’s spewing his rap into the mic. He’s not singing — I liked that left turn on “80s,” but it’s somehow a relief to know that’s not a permanent new direction.
Kanye has willingly appeared on cartoon shows such as “South Park” and “The Cleveland Show” (above). Live comedy, however, he takes issue with:
F— ‘SNL’ and the whole cast
Tell ’em Yeezy said they can kiss my whole ass
More specifically they can kiss my a–hole
I’m a a–hole?
You n—as got jokes
As in, that’s all you got.
Amid his boasts of power, Kanye sneers: “I was drinkin’ earlier, now I’m drivin’.” MADD will be thrilled.
But in the end, he says, “This will be a beautiful death,” before turning over the coda to some icy male backing vocals who explain how exactly it will end: “I’m jumping out the window / I’m letting everything go.” Then Kanye closes with a question: “You got the power to let power go?” I suspect he’s not asking us, but himself.