Power by Kanye West

Power, the new song and music video by Kanye West as conceived and directed by Marco Brambilla is a powerful visual experience, one well worth the looksee.

Now, students in the Western Music and Culture course I teach at the university are well aware of my opinion of Kanye’s musical stylings . . . hint, not the most positive of opinions coupled with a fascinated curiousity as to just how he’s managed to buld a multi-billion dollar empire . . . although, in fairness, I have used his work material worthy of discussion in that course and recently included his Jesus Walks in a discussion of popular music and scripture in the Bible and Literature course I also teach at the university.

However, all that aside, this particular video is well worth the view as Brambilla’s a visual artist par excellance who has created a living painting, a symbolic tableau of myth and majesty that manages to be both simple and complex at the same time.

Here’s the director’s original uncensored version:

POWER by Kanye West
Director’s Version by Marco Brambilla

You can also go here for the director’s cut version.

Those familiar with his previous work will recognize Brambilla’s use of moving tapestry immediately. He spins a living cloth image that approaches mythological character with symbolic reference that has both powerful overt imaginative visual impact as well as subtle subtext.

His most notable previous work of this type is the video tapestry Civilization created for a hotel which has similiar mythic reference (Dante’s Inferno comes to mind among many other less overt references):

Marco Brambilla

As you can see, it’s a very powerful image. Of course, the Kanye West piece is quite a bit shorter but there is some indication that a longer piece will be released later. This is visually powerful stuff!

Brambilla discussed his artistic vision in a short video released just prior to the music video:

Making of POWER by Kanye West
Interview with Marco Brambilla

Of course, if you surf the various conspiracy-friendly corners of the internet, you will find a whole slew of folks who have their own versions of what Kanye’s video truly means, a large number are missing or misunderstanding the Tarot and mythological symbols and either ascribing a sinister Satanic message or hidden assumptions of proof that Kanye West is indeed a member of the nefarious Illuminati, the secret masters of the world who have lately been connected to a number of black artists in the music industry (an odd place for that particular conspiracy theory to end up but then there it is).

For the release of the video on regular family-friendly networks, the video was edited into a second version that covers the partial nudity of the figures:

POWER by Kanye West
Music Television Version

One thing that is rather interesting is that for his performance of the song on Saturday Night Live, Kanye West edited part of the lyrics to remove a slam at SNL.

POWER by Kanye West
Saturday Night Live Version

The visual composition of that performance was obviously an allusion to the music video.

In any case, regardless of what you think of West’s music, this particular piece is one of his more visually powerful music videos and very much worth checking out.

All the best,