revisiting kanye west’s “power” interpretation


I’ve decided to take another look at Kanye West’s “Power” musical portrait and expand on my “snap judgement” thoughts I posted last friDay. For the most part, I’m still sticking to those original thoughts and feelings I’ve had, but I was curious what the rest of the interwebs had been saying about him and/or the video and how they may have interpreted it’s meaning.

One thing that bothers me, and this is slightly off-topic, but those comments that were against this video, calling it “evil” or “satanic” or invoking the Illuminati, I couldn’t take too seriously due to spelling and grammar issues, among other things. I mean, they were barely making a point as it was, but still… if you want to tell me to “read a book” or “educate myself”, please be sure you do the same too while forming complete thoughts. Just saying.

Anyway, with education and research, you will come to find that not everything that looks weird or demonic is as evil as you think. I really can’t speak for Kanye or anyone else for that matter, but I’m all for visually stimulating content that has something to say, whether it’s “good” or “evil” or just a point of view which could literally mean anything. What I’m talking about here is the women with the horns on their heads. Immediately, people are quick to flock to devil worshiping. On the contrary, this video invokes a lot of Ancient Egyptian themes, and some of the gods and goddesses had long goat-like horns (and staffs). One such Egyptian goddess goes by the name of Hathor, who is the goddess of the sky, love, music and motherhood… among other things. I read an interpretation that compared these Hathor-like women to Kanye’s mother whom probably represented these things in Kanye’s life. I also read someone considered the woman with the wings to also be a representation of his mother, being an angelic figure. Whatever or whoever she is supposed to represent, it’s one of my favorite visuals in this video, which is just so aesthetically pleasing (mirror images, colors, lights, darks, slow motion, etc.).

By no means am I an expert on all of this. The more I read into ancient symbols and what they symbolize, the more I get my own idea of what they could possibly mean to the artists creating this portrait. Artists, as is more than one. This is a collaboration of Kanye West and Marco Brambilla. I’m still researching Brambilla, but from the interviews, it sounds like he may have been the driving force behind how and what visuals are played out, interpreting West’s lyrics to an exaggerated sense of the concept of power.

And let’s not forget, that’s what’s being portrayed in this portrait: power. Or, what does it look like if one man has too much power? Sexy women with staffs, dancing and sitting around eating grapes? Sure. Walking down a pillar hallway that leads somewhere into the sky? Why not? More sexy women hanging upside-down with upward flowing water? Of course!

But with great power, comes great responsibility. Oops, wrong quote. Or is it?

My favorite nugget I found most interesting was the sword above Kanye’s head. This is the Sword of Damocles. As much as I love Greek stories and mythologies, I’m surprised I’ve never heard of it until recently. Rather than tell you in my own words and screw it up, I suggest reading this to get a sense of why that sword is dangling above Kanye’s head:

The Damocles of the anecdote was an obsequious courtier in the court of Dionysius II of Syracuse, a fourth century BC tyrant of Syracuse. Damocles exclaimed that, as a great man of power and authority, Dionysius was truly fortunate. Dionysius offered to switch places with him for a day, so that Damocles could taste first hand that fortune. In the evening a banquet was held where Damocles very much enjoyed being waited upon like a king. Only at the end of the meal did he look up and notice a sharpened sword hanging directly above his head by a single horse-hair. Immediately, he lost all taste for the fine foods and beautiful companions and asked leave of the tyrant, saying he no longer wanted to be so fortunate. Dionysius had successfully conveyed a sense of the constant fear in which the great man lives. – Wikipedia.org

When I first saw the video, I had no idea why it was there or what it meant. But now, it makes so much more sense.

Horus is on the right.

But back to Egyptian mythology, because I don’t want people to think I’m leaving out Kanye’s new bling: that is Horus. He is the god of the sky, kings and protection. It is also said that Hathor is Horus’s mother. So there’s that. But what does Horus have to do with Kanye? Or at least what does it mean in this portrait? Well, it’s obvious King Kanye would want to invoke the god of the kind for protection from all attacks… we’ve seen the Sword of Damocles, and we see, to my count, three potential assassins. To be honest, I have no clue why he chose Horus, but that’s what I came up with. It may require more research or someone just asking him what it all means.

And what about those two (or three) dudes with the swords. (The third dude is actually the first “assailant” with the dagger who is upside down.) What these people represent to me is equivalent to the tragic play Julius Caesar. I don’t even have to take it that far, but it’s clear that anyone who is standing in a position of power is or can be a target to be taken down.

Lastly, let’s not forget this is a work of art, and a moving painting. I know when I was young, even today, I’m intrigued by those classic Renaissance paintings hundreds of years ago that depicted a single scene with so much going on, so much imagery, and didn’t have to move. Surely those are still up for interpretation, and I bet you people are depicting conspiracy theories behind those too. Actually, I know they are. Thanks a lot The da Vinci Code.

If anything, hopefully instead of scaring people or making them jump to easy scapegoats and radical confusions as Illuminati affiliated or selling one’s soul to the devil (which I personally believe is impossible for reason I choose not discuss right now), people will do what the artist might want them to do and investigate what’s really being said. Start educating yourself and do a little research. Can’t we be a little more cultured? And for the sake of being unique, can’t we have some thought provoking entertainment? So when I mean education and research, I mean looking around besides Wikipedia, although that is my first stop to half of what I research. Dare I suggest to crack open an actual book?

Regarding the Illuminati–is Kanye in cahoots with them? I don’t know. My gut is telling me no. Conspiracy theories are just that: theories. Meaning, they haven’t been proven. And some of them may never be because quite possibly, there is nothing to prove. People will believe what they want so there’s no point in the artist(s) trying to tell them otherwise. I think we covered this with Jay-Z’s visually stimulating “On To The Next One.” I’m still doing research on what the Illuminati is all about, but I’m not convinced they are part of “Power” however I wouldn’t put it past Kanye or Marco to incorporate it in this video since it depicts a source of power. Both of these artists are very cultured individuals (Kanye’s blog is truth to this), so why not incorporate these past images in your present work? The theorists say the triangle/pyramid at the end is an Illuminati image, as well as a somewhat hidden eye in the clouds. These are the same things you see on your money and the Free Masons and blah blah blah. It’s not that I doubt their existence, it’s just that I don’t care.

And let’s be honest, if this were some typical video showing off classy cars, would we even be talking about it as much as we are? You personally may not be talking about it, but it’s being talk about. Trust me. (A lot of the traffic that I get comes from my analysis of Jay-Z’s video.) And if I’m wrong and these artists are really part of a secret conspiracy, then I’m wrong. But I am not defending them, I’m defending art and something I find original, unique and thought-provoking. Plus it’s a good song and I can’t wait for the album!

To be such a short video, it gets a lot of people talking… including myself and I still have more thoughts about it. But that’s the point of a good piece of art, right?

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8 comments on “revisiting kanye west’s “power” interpretation
  1. […] I was doing my in-depth write up of Kanye West’s “Power” video, during my research I kept discovering critics and bloggers comparing […]

  2. Kate says:

    Thanks for this nice read, I am actually thinking of I should post something about this video or not. I want to go an research on symbols and metaphors, because I find it so beautiful.

    And I always wonder what all those people would do if they were told to stop using US dollars to pay for their food/rent/etc… because it also has symbols and that would mean they’re selling their souls everytime they open their wallets to pay for something. It’s so ridiculous, ignorant and a way of spoiling something so marvelous. These are the kind of people who would have been in the first row at witch trials, burning people up.

    • t. sterling says:

      I say to go for it, I would love to read a deep analysis of this video and see what others, like you, may pick up on that I didn’t see or even think about. Or maybe a different opinion altogether. But I agree, all these images whether I understand them or not have a strong beauty to them.

      I watch a lot of History Channel and read a lot about symbols and secret societies and I swear everyone is looking for a conspiracy or something corrupt. So I’ve seen the documentaries about why our money looks the way it does and how the Free Masons may have hid information about a new world order. In my mind, the new world order started in 1776 when America became a nation. But your right, some of these people are so paranoid that they have the ability to spread mass hysteria to the rest of the normal people thinking things that don’t hold water or are exaggerated truths (like the witch trials).

  3. You rock T. Here in America, where the predominant religion is Christianity, many people see horns and automatically assume evil/devil. But in addition to belonging to ancient Egyptian mythology, horned beasts and deities can be found throughout many religions and cultures throughout time. In fact, some research suggests that the devil image itself was constructed by taking an ancient (Pagan) deity (Pan) and turning it into a symbol of evil. This was done to as part of the many creative conversion methods that Christians leaders practiced.

    Folks need to stop and think before blathering on about what’s evil.

    • t. sterling says:

      And this is why you are awesome, because you are intelligent, educated, cultured and understand art and history. It’s nice to know there are others that aren’t jumping on the “evil” band wagon.

  4. Balmori says:

    This was a really good read. Obviously you did your research. This may seem completely off subject but I think it will help you understand more about illuminati. Lucifer is NOT Satan. The part about Lucifer in the bible being a fallen angel is not true. It was falsified by St. Jerome in the 4th century. The true story was about a Babylonian prince who fell from grace. Why change the story to make it Lucifer “The Morning Star(Fallen Angel)”? Lets keep going. Lucifer is actually latin meaning day star or son of the morning. In egytian the representation of Lucifer would be Horus and the representation of that in babylonian is Baal/Marduk. If you make the connections they were all princes who took over the thrones of their fathers after their demise. Luciferianism/Satanism is based on the devil trying to overthrow God from the heavens and the great battle that will ensue. Now if your still with me lets get back to the illuminati. The illuminati or “enlightened ones” started as a group with the aim to bring the world under one government and establishing a “new world order”. The very foundation of the America with the founding fathers as the first american enlightened ones is testament to that. They use symbology in everything they do to since the very beginning of this nation. Some try to downplay the symbology but explain the symbology in everything and anything nowadays? Do you honestly believe that these people spending millions of dollars to make these video interpretations, would make something and not have a secret meaning to it?

    • t. sterling says:

      Thanks for the comment. And yes I started researching the Illuminati. I had been debating whether or not I would post my research on the Free Masons and whatever I could find about the Illuminati and now Tarot cards… but I haven’t finished reading or writing any of them yet (except the Masons, which seem like adult boy scouts). The reason I’m having issues with researching the Illuminati is looking for sources that don’t have any bias. Some website I read are downright calling them evil rather citing credible evidence of who they are and what they are about.

      Now you didn’t lose me talking about Satan/Lucifer but you didn’t connect it to the Illuminati. I’m not exactly a biblical scholar, but I am a pastor’s son and I can hold my own when it comes to researching the bible. And I will agree to disagree about Lucifer being Satan. But I will agree that the bible has had many edits over the centuries and it could really make some people question what they really believe is true about it. But I’m not here to discuss my faith, just interpreting art.

      And after rereading, I feel I may have to post what I found about the Free Masons which would dispute your theory of the founding fathers. Granted, I could be wrong in all of this but these are all theories, and some of them happen to be coincidental. I’m not saying the images are an accident, I just don’t think they are as malicious as people might make them out to be. I’ll actually post that free mason stuff later which would explain more why I don’t see them as a threat or wanting to have world domination.

      The Illuminati may take a bit longer since I haven’t even started writing anything yet.

  5. […] are claims of more Illuminati references from both West and Jay-Z. I had done research since my last visitation to Kanye’s “Power” music painting interpretations and came to the conclusion that […]

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