Kanye West's bizarre severed-head 'Power' artwork: Huh?

Kanye-West-PowerImage Credit: George CondoFor years now Kanye West has been telling us how he’s the hottest rapper out there. Granted, with Grammys-galore, several No. 1 hits, and cosigns from his peers, he has the stats to back his claims. It really doesn’t matter if you believe it. He does. After taking a break from rapping with his auto-tuned 2008 808s & Heartbreak effort and a vacation of sorts, he’s back at it. Last month he released his defiant first singlePower,” from his forthcoming fifth album.  And last Sunday (June 27) he dominantly performed the track for the first time at the BET Awards from the top of an erupting volcano. So when Kanye released the single’s artwork last night (June 30), I was thrown for loop.

In the poignant  George Condo painting a decapitated crown-wearing head, presumably West’s, sits bloodied with a sword punched in it’s side. Towards the end of West’s “Power,” he asks, “Do you have the power to let power go?” With this picture I think he’s suggesting that he does, whether it’s easy or not. Or maybe that’s the ugly ego people think he’s cursed with being put to rest. Hey, I’m just guessing here. What do I know? Maybe it’s just a cool image he liked.

What do you guys make of Kanye’s “Power” artwork? Let us know.

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Comments (75 total) Add your comment
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  • benjamin moore

    i love Kanye and I do think that the artwork has deep meaning as do his lyrics. I forgive you Kanye and i am ready for you to do what you do best!!!

    • nodnarb

      I always chuckle when people say Kanye’s lyrics have deep meaning.
      “You know how long I’ve been onya/Since Prince was on Apollonia/Since OJ had Isotoners.”
      That’s about as deep as the divots on a golf ball. I think your head might explode if you tried to read Kafka.

      • mike

        thats just one part of a song, dumb#ss

        you can that a part of anyones song and make it seem shadow

      • Matt

        @nodarb — selecting one line from one song like “Stronger” (a made-for-radio single) and generalizing from that about his catalog is a little unfair… songs like “Big Brother” “Diamonds from Sierra Leone” “Jesus Walks” “Hey Mama” “I Wonder” “Everything I Am” and this single “Power” prove he has the capability to composes meaningful music with strong and significant themes, and also still crank out more surface-level hits as well

      • nodnarb

        “Cutie the bomb, met her at a beauty salon/With a baby Louis Vuitton under her underarm”
        Need I go on?

      • mike

        I always chuckle when people say The Beatle’s lyrics have deep meaning.
        “You make me dizzy, Miss Lizzy
        The way you rock and roll
        You make me dizzy, Miss Lizzy”
        That’s about as deep as the divots on a golf ball. think your head might explode if you tried to read Kafka.

      • Bob Loblaw

        @nodnarb-Oooooo, you read Kafka? Get off your high horse you pretentious snob. You’re on ew.com for freaking sake. And thanks to Matt for that well articulated response, saved me the time and aggravation.

      • nodnarb

        Matt, I gave you the benefit of the doubt and looked up the lyrics to his new single “Power.”
        “F— SNL and the whole cast. Tell ‘em Yeezy said they can kiss my whole ass. More specifically they can kiss my a–hole.”
        LOL. I stand by my comments.

      • abrigh

        Kafka hated arabs and africans

      • nodnarb

        “Dizzy Miss Lizzie” is a cover song, Mike! FAIL. It’s clear you’ve been outmatched intellectually. Quit while you’re behind.

      • maiv

        eh – you can do that to anyone’s lyrics

      • nodnarb

        Nah, not with the regularity of Kanye’s lyrics.
        To be fair, I do appreciate the album cover. I think it represents how he sees himself as a martyr in popular culture. And at least he’s using artwork on his cover than the standard gold teeth and big booty girls on so many other hip-hop records.

      • DGD

        I haven’t seen an hip-hop album cover like that in ages. You must be out of the loop nodnarb.

      • jv

        screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it

      • Figuer09

        you must hate kanye so much that you go around articles and talk about him… haha kanye was right.. this conversation has a nice ring to it. keep hating haha

      • mitche.gia510

        I very much enjoy Kafka, as do I enjoy Kanye West. However, although many of West’s better lines are quite witty and entertaining, his genius by no means lies within his lyrics; it is his producing abilities that have brought him the status he enjoys. But you must be quite the music connoisseur to enjoy his productions and I’d have to assume you know much too little about his music to truly enjoy it as you’ve only the ability to quote one of his most poorly produced and overplayed songs of all time.

      • Gloriana

        That’s way more clever than I was excptieng. Thanks!

    • Jay

      Kanye is a douche. I hate him and everything he ever says or does. I comment negatively every time I see his name on this here interweb.

      so… my work here is done

    • The Critic

      I agree. This new stuff of his is defintely influenced by art house singer Gerschweyn Matthews. Are they dating for real?

  • JC

    Im a fan of Kanye but the artwork scared me

    • mike

      your g%y

      • Christie

        Give it up, Mike, and learn how to spell. Typical Kanye fan.

      • Nick T

        He’s gooey?

  • taylor swift

    Beyonce really did have the best video last year, Kanye I forgive you…but don’t cross me again!

    • fancypants

      lol. what was the Bey video anyway? single ladies?

  • Caressa

    This is not bizarre at all to me. I think its a beautiful painting. This is often the result of power in many capacities, from drug lords to totalitarian dictators. Condo draws the listener and viewer in with the narrative driven piece.
    I love the illustrious vibrancy, it reminds me of island folklore illustration.
    I think it is an intellectual decision and I am in awe of the painting’s alluring textures and color, and just the same, subject matter.
    Every piece of art work has meaning and its deep, especially to those w works that are meant to have no meaning at all.
    This reminds me of the new ARCHANDROID cover also a great album by the beautiful Janelle Monae. A Fritz Lang flash back that surely reference to power through technology, the massive divide between class, and the imbalance of power in society. I am looking forward to hearing the rest of this album.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Kafka was qouted as saying “arabs can lick jew a##”.

    • nodnarb

      Yeah, he did say that but the doesnt mean he hated arabs. He just was into that stuff!

      • jimmy


        He did not say that. Where are you getting your info from?

      • nodnarb

        That comment wasn’t mine.

      • kingdavidisabetterleaderthanobama!!!!!


        As a Jew, I’m offend at your remarks.

        Own up to your comments

  • Justin

    “No one man can have all that power.”

    Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.

    Even kings can/will be taken down if the power they hold consume them.

    At least that’s what the artwork means to me.

    Also, it’s funny how nodnarb quoted one single, to which Matt replied that he’s quoting singles, and then nodnab again quoted another single. Some people just love to be contrary.

    • nodnarb

      Whether a song is a single or a deeper album cut pertains to marketing and has little bearing on the artist’s intellectual capacity… that’s why I chose to ignore that comment. And for the record, “No one man can have all that power” is not even remotely deep. It’s a surface-level statement a community college student would write when forced to read Machiavelli. But worse, it’s a cliche.

      • MCS

        Sorry brandon, I FORGOT you went to harvard.

      • Justin

        but it’s the truth. what is your deal man?

    • Katie

      Kanye loves movies…it inspires his song just like the movie “Ray” inspire “Gold Digger”…that quotes comes from the movie “Malcolm X” and how white america loved him now he is now being dethroned as far as “main stream” and how main stream loves the fall…but I look at as in order for an artist he keep being creative…obstacles will come…if only artists knew the difference between freedom and power…always be grateful..”Remember Kanye…through the wire”

  • Jackson

    The cover art is excellent and original, just as the song is and Kanye is. He is always mixing styles up and this is no different.
    One of Mr. West’s best singles ever in my opinion.

    Your argument is extremely ignorant in regards to Kanye’s lyrics being shallow. You named his 2 most commercial singles ever, and his singles (or singles in general) usually do not have as much meaning as other ones on the album. Every artist has less than stellar lines, and you fail to mention that Kanye has some of the most witty lines in all of rap. And again, Stronger and Gold Digger are singles.

    Power actually has much more lyrical depth than at first thought. It is better and more intelligent than anything eles on the radio right now.

    • nodnarb

      That’s like saying “New Moon” is the best Twilight movie.
      I get what you’re saying about singles; I just don’t think it’s fair to give him (or anyone else) a pass for writing such mindlessly dumb lyrics simply because they’re commercial singles.

      • What

        Why are people forced to write such mindlessly dumb lyrics for their commercial singles? It is because the majority of society eats that up, and tends to gravitate towards that instead of the more meaningful songs, like Kanye and other artists are capable of. Lupe Fiasco, one of the more talented lyricists in main stream hip hop addressed basically this in his song ‘Dumb It Down’, which is about how he refuses to dumb it down just to sell more records. Maybe you don’t give someone a pass for ‘dumbing’ a commercial single down, but it’s a marketing ploy that allows them to capture widespread fame and fortune. Take a guy like Eminem or Lil Wayne, you can find dozens of meaningless, or even arguably poor quality lines, but would you say neither of them aren’t good at their craft? West is the same, go listen to some songs other than what is on the Top 40.

      • nodnarb

        That is interesting about the Lupe Fiasco song. I’ll check it out.

      • Cdub

        I agree with everything that has been said AGAINST you. I would add more, but I feel like you would just come up with some pathetic response anyway. It’s pointless arguing with someone as ignorant as you. Go find someone else to bash on; Kanye’s single is impressive.
        And stop referring to the Kafka and Machiavelli… It makes you look desperate and fake.

      • V.Esparza

        Amen Cdub. nodnarb have you seen The Squid and The Whale? I think you could relate to one of the characters. And as far as Eminem is concerned his only fake music I can really recollect are his first singles off of his albums, everything else is pretty intense and real. Especially his new stuff.

      • Cdub

        @V.Esparza I agree!
        & I think everyone can agree that Eminem is one of the most successful and well known rap artists out there. Sure, he hated his life at one point. So he rapped about it and created an inspiring new album. Recovery is boss, and so is Eminem and Kanye!

  • Jackson

    Decipher the song line by line, make the connections, and see that there is something much greater beyond.

    • SoulWarrior

      THANK YOU!!!That’s what I’ve been scanning the net for the last two days trying to find; someone ELSE who “thought it not strange”…BTW let it be known that I’m not a kanye basher, I love him, but I’m very, very scared by the underlying message this song has.

  • PiratesDaughter

    I really just want to know why he’s so pissed off at SNL “the whole cast”.

  • Sanders

    I think its obvious what Kanye meant by “Do you Have Power to let power go” Personally, I believe he is disgusted at the overbearing attitudes of White Americans…politically and otherwise.

  • Divits on a golf ball ?

    Nodnarb, good job beign retarted with that divits on a golf ball comment. Theres no such thing. So dont talk about Kanyes lyrics not having much meaning when you cant even make a true statement to back it up. Your about as deep as DIMPLES on a golf ball.


    Kayne West is an arrogant ass. He puts down what he hears and sees from people around him. He is about as deep as evel knievel.

  • Mindy

    He is the besst and bbwmeet

  • Harrison Lipton

    you people are so blind, kanye is the best musician that raps out there, not a “rapper”; hes capable of thought other than sex and money, throughout the whole song he talks of suicide, of letting power go. its a reverse psychology of giving up to show that hes really back in the game for good. hes the best. its so true.

    • Donye26

      You’re forgetting about Lupe Fiasco. Either that or you just overlooked him.

  • Subliminal People

    can’t blame him for being a dick. blame the people and the music industry.

    an artist finds oneself’s talent.

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