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Kanye West - Power

I'm livin' in the 21st century
Doin' something mean to it
Do it better than anybody you ever seen do it
Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it
I guess every superhero need his theme music
No one man should have all that power
The clock's tickin', I just count the hours
Stop trippin', I'm trippin' off the power
(21st century schizoid man)
The system broken, the schools closed, the prisons open
We ain't got nothin' to lose, ma'f-cka, we rollin'
Huh? Ma'f-cka, we rollin'
With some light-skinned girls and some Kelly Rowlands
In this white man's world, we the ones chosen
So goodnight, cruel world, I see you in the mornin'
Huh? I see you in the mornin'
This is way too much, I need a moment
No one man should have all that power
The clock's tickin', I just count the hours
Stop trippin', I'm trippin' off the power
'Til then, f-ck that, the World's ours
And then they (Go)
And then they
And then they (Go)
And then they (21st century schizoid man)
F-ck snl and the whole cast
Tell 'em Yeezy said they can kiss my whole ass
More specifically, they can kiss my asshole
I'm an asshole? You n-ggas got jokes
You short-minded n-ggas' thoughts is Napoleon
My furs is Mongolian, my ice brought the goalies in
Now I embody every characteristic of the egotistic
He know, he so, f-ckin' gifted
I just needed time alone, with my own thoughts
Got treasures in my mind but couldn't open up my own vault
My childlike creativity, purity and honesty
Is honestly being prodded by these grown thoughts
Reality is catchin' up with me
Takin' my inner child, I'm fighting for it, custody
With these responsibilities that they entrusted me
As I look down at my dia-mond-encrusted piece
N-gga, no one man should have all that power
The clock's tickin', I just count the hours
Stop trippin', I'm trippin' off the power
'Til then, f-ck that, the World's ours
And then they (Go)
And then they
And then they (Go)
And then they
And then they (Go)
And then they (21st century schizoid man)
Colin Powells, Austin Powers
Lost in translation with a whole f-ckin' nation
They say I was the obamanation (abomination) of Obama's nation
Well, that's a pretty bad way to start the conversation
At the end of day, goddammit, I'm killin' this sh-t
I know damn well y'all feelin' this sh-t
I don't need yo' p-ssy, bitch, I'm on my own d-ck
I ain't gotta power trip, who you goin' home with?
How 'Ye doin'? I'm survivin'
I was drinkin' earlier, now I'm drivin'
Where the bad bitches, huh? Where ya hidin'?
I got the power, make yo' life so excitin' (So excitin')
Now this would be a beautiful death
Jumpin' out the window
Lettin' everything go
Lettin' everything go
N-now-now this would be a beautiful death
Jumpin' out the window
Lettin' everything go
Lettin' everything go
Now this would be a beautiful death
Jumpin' out the window
Lettin' everything go
Lettin' everything go
You got the power to let power go

"POWER" is the first single from American rapper Kanye West off of his fifth studio album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The song features singer Dwele and is co-produced by Kanye West and Symbolyc One. The song features samples of "21st Century Schizoid Man" by British progressive rock band King Crimson, "Afromerica" by Continent Number 6, and "Its Your Thing" by Cold Grits. "POWER" was West's comeback single following his 2008 album 808s & Heartbreak and his controversial incident with Taylor Swift at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards. The song received acclaim from music critics and was listed among the best tracks of 2010 by several publications, including Time, Pitchfork Media, Spin, and Rolling Stone. Critics described it as a return to form for West, praising its intricate production, lyrical merit, and scope. It was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance at the 53rd Grammy Awards. The song debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 at position 22 and thereafter declined. The track was promoted by a music video, which was directed by Marco Brambilla. The video features a long take of the camera pulling away from West. The video received positive reviews from critics and received two nominations for MTV Video Music Awards. West performed the song on Saturday Night Live, at the 2010 BET Awards, at the 2011 Coachella Music Festival, and his Watch the Throne Tour. A remix of the track featuring Jay-Z was released on August 20, 2010, as a part of West's weekly GOOD Fridays series. In an outtake from the 2012 documentary "Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap" directed by rapper Ice-T, West mused that he had never actually written down his lyrics before, and that "Power" represented a turning point in his songwriting process: “I didn't write my raps down for my first four albums — like at all, I did it from the head straight to the booth. But on this last album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, I wrote it. I really put myself in the zone that my life was dependent on the success of this album. With that being the case, I said, ‘You know what? No matter what anybody says about me, they won’t — I can write something that can make someone that hates me the most have to really respect or love the song.’ So even a song like ‘POWER,’ I spent 5,000 hours writing it, and it’s really the psychology behind the lyrics; it’s not just blatantly, ‘I’ve got all the power’ — ‘No one man should have all that power.’ It’s worded in a really sensitive way that opens it up for everyone. Even if I use first person and say ‘I, I, I,’ it’s always for everyone." West also declared influence from his previous singles "Stronger" and "Good Life" from his third album Graduation stating that the track was meant to be inspirational for the listener. According to West, he wanted his music to be appealing in an economy facing a recession. On June 30, 2010, the single was released on iTunes for digital download. The cover artwork for "POWER" was produced by American visual artist George Condo, who also designed the artwork for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. The artwork depicts a decapitated bleeding head wearing a crown, pierced with a sword through it. The single had two other alternate cover designs, both produced by Condo. A second one was released featuring a depiction of West with a gaping, demented mouth. In a January 2020 interview with GQ, West claimed that "Power" was his weakest first single to ever be released because he "felt like it was bowing to the expectations." West explained, viewing the track as "the ultimate Kanye West song" but claiming that it was a mix of his previous works, rather than one of his "songs that people never heard before." "POWER" marked a stylistic return to hip-hop for West after the sparse electro of 808s & Heartbreak. It has been described as surreal, frightening, dark, and strange in nature. The production of "Power" centers on samples of "21st Century Schizoid Man" by English progressive rock band King Crimson, "Afromerica" by French disco act Continent Number 6, and "It's Your Thing" by American funk band Cold Grits. The song's production is reinforced with a vocal harmony provided by Dwele, with a line delivery mostly inspired by braggadocio rapping methods. The song has been described as dark thematically and was called "apocalyptic." According to Alex Denney of NME, the track is the first moment of catharsis on My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, stating that the track made use of "tribal fanfare and supercharged lyrics." He mused that lines like “I guess every superhero needs his theme music” appear to be West's imagining of a warm welcome to heaven. Pitchfork Media's Ryan Dombal described West's delivery as urgent, summarizing the production; "More than ever, though, "Power" has Kanye internalizing his multiple minds and coming to an ecstatic peace with them. "Power" is not a bitchfest. It's an exaltation. All of his various guises-- King of the Assholes, drama queen, Red Bull'd 12-year-old, Next Chappelle, strangely relatable Megaman-- are mashed up in this proudly schizoid roll call. Every sound is ready for the arena, and every couplet is ready for the 140-character treatment, including this one: "I don't need yo pussy, bitch, I'm on my own dick/ I ain't gotta power trip, who you goin' home with?" He knows the answer, and so do we." The song takes several influences from previous projects by West and was called a summation of his prior styles. The song takes cues from the militant chants of West's song "Jesus Walks" from his first album The College Dropout, the drum style of "Crack Music" from West's Late Registration, the inspirational aspect of "Stronger" from Graduation, and the atmospheric piano and strings featured on 808s & Heartbreak. The chorus is "simultaneously boastful, condemning, and anxious," and anthemic in nature, featuring a wordless vocal chant. West utilizes a military-inspired, "take-no-prisoner" approach to the song, purposely failing to be apologetic, even going as far as mocking some of his critics. Other topics discussed in the song include social commentary on the state of the United States and his thoughts on race issues. The lyrics of the song have been cited as "classic Kanye," featuring many of the traits that have been exhibited in his lyricism in the past. Themes that have defined much of his work, such as egotism, cultural criticism, and personal issues, are featured prominently in the song. West self-described the song as "superhero theme music," with the track darting back from being depressing and bombastic in nature, with the sample occasionally cutting through the song in an abrasive manner. The track seemingly culminates with the suicide of its main character, ending with a menacing laugh provided by West. During an interview with New York radio station Power 105.1, West said he spent thousands of hours working on this carefully crafted song. "A song like 'POWER' took 5,000 hours, like literally 5,000 man-hours to do this one record." While a significant critical success, "POWER" performed less well commercially. During the week entering 8 July 2010, "POWER" charted on the Billboard Hot 100 at number 22; named the week's Hot Shot Debut. While the song attained a high debut, the song only remained there for one week, which was also the song's peak. Despite this fall in the charts, the song did eventually go platinum. On September 4, 2010, the single also debuted on the UK Singles Chart and UK R&B Chart at number 36 and 10 respectively, before falling to number 42 in its second week in the chart. It debuted with sales of 6,254 downloads and marked West's 6th singles chart entry in less than six years. On September 18, 2010, the single fell 38 places to number 80, marking its third week within the Top 100. Following the release of the album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, the single re-entered the chart at number 57 and as of 23 October, 2010 has spent a total of five weeks within the Top 100. In 2011, the single re-entered the UK singles chart and urban chart, at number 38 and 12 respectively. By 2017, Official Charts Company revealed that "POWER" was the 83rd best-selling hip-hop song of all time in the UK. In 2018, Spotify named the song the fourth most popular workout song of all time, while West's "Stronger" was third on the list. As of October 24, 2019, the former ranks as West's seventh most popular track of all time on the UK Singles Chart. The New York Times previewed a clip of the music video directed by artist Marco Brambilla, featuring Irina Shayk, Jessica White, and African-American albino fashion model Diandra Forrest. The video premiered on MTV on August 5, 2010, preceding a new episode of Jersey Shore. The "POWER" video commences with a portrait-view headshot of West staring intensely into the camera with illuminated eyes and wearing a large, low-hanging gold chain necklace with an equally large pendant of Horus. As the music begins, the camera slowly tracks out in one continuous take to reveal West standing at the end of a hallway of black columns, and surrounded by partially dressed female characters. Some kneel before him, some embrace, four figures wear ibex-like horns; and some are inverted, pouring water that flows upward. Two horned, staff-bearing figures, loosely resembling interpretations of Isis and Hathor, stand on either side of West; each slowly strikes the ground with their staff, in time to the music. The Sword of Damocles hangs over the rapper’s head, while other slowly moving figures appear ready to strike West with blades. The various figures within the painting are presented in poses similar to the Major Arcana and Minor Arcana of the Etteilla occult tarot deck. Anthony Beningo of Daily News described the ending of the video: Music video director Marco Brambilla described his "POWER" video as personal and apocalyptic in nature, stating that the video exaggerated the message of the song. "The focus of the video turns out to be West's death. After a few close-up shots of the rapper's surroundings, Brambilla's camera pulls back and everyone disappears, leaving only West and the two warriors. Realization dawns that they aren't swinging at each other, but rather converging on King Kanye. But before they can decapitate him, however, the video cuts to black." West has called the video a "moving painting." Brambilla mused about the video that “it’s kind of apocalyptic, in a very personal way," and that "it’s a very exaggerated hyper-sensational version of what the song is saying.” The video is much shorter than the actual song, lasting less than two minutes and only covering the first verse. It was later revealed that the 103-second video, which invokes cultural references from the Renaissance period to Greek mythology, is a teaser for a longer clip, though the full-length version of the video never surfaced. One of the reasons proposed why the full version never was released was because "POWER" was also used during Runaway, a 35-minute music video directed by West set to music from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

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