Monday, September 12, 2011

Revenge of the Thirty-Day Song Challenge - Day 14

Day 14 – A 10’s Song

Alright, we’re about a year and a half into the new decade, which doesn’t leave with much to write about (unless you were clever about this challenge and picked a theme). Still, I’m nothing if not persistent, so here we go!

Kanye West - "Power"

An innovative producer and creative wordsmith, Kanye West is one of my favorite rappers of the past ten years. However, because of his rather unfortunate penchant for acting like a jackass, I find that his music is best enjoyed in a bubble, willfully ignoring his comments about George W. Bush vs. black people, or his musings on exactly which music video is the greatest of all time. 

"Power" was Kanye's first single released after his self-imposed exile following his notorious interruption at the 2009 VMAs. I had a good deal of interest vested in this song when it first came out; not only to see what the reaction to it would be, but also whether or not it would be any good. I had given his previous album, 808s & Heartbreak, a pass, and I was ready for some new content (Kan-tent?) that I could actively care about.  Fortunately, "Power" came through.

Like most of my favorite Kanye West songs, "Power" has some stellar production work. "Power" samples what sounds like Native American chanting and mixes it with huge-sounding drums and a warble-y guitar, giving it a hugely unique sound, and one that stands out many modern rap songs in that pop space. Lyrically, it's a return to Kanye's more specific, personal writing style that was prominent on his first two albums, and while lines that are very particular to Kanye West make it hard to forget exactly who is performing the song, I do enjoy some of his lateral thinking punchlines ("Everybody, we rollin'/With some light-skinned girls and some Kelly Rowlands").

My only gripe with the track (apart from how pleased Kanye sounds with himself during most of the song--then again, we are talking about Kanye West) is the two-minute outro portion of the song, which takes a perfectly radio-friendly hip hop single and extends it into over-indulgence. In fact, I have this problem with nearly every track on the album this song comes from, My Beautiful, Dark, Twisted Fantasy (ugh, even the title is self-consciously overbearing). Most of the songs say everything they need to in 3-4 minutes, then stick around anywhere from 1-5 minutes for the apparent sheer, unadultered hell of it (seriously, there's no reason why "Runaway" needs to be nine minutes long). It's this faux-epicness that keeps me from giving it more than two or three casual listens.

Still, I dig "Power" overall. The production is great, the chorus works, and the song just feels good. It's also one hell of a trailer song.

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