Kanye West sounded confrontational on his single “Power”? Wait ’til you hear the official remix he and big bro Jay-Z dropped on NYC’s Hot 97 radio last night. It feels like rap heads have been waiting for this remix all summer, and Jay and ‘Ye don’t disappoint, turning the intensity of the original tune all the way up.Oh, you thought
“Rumble, young man, rumble,” Jay-Z advises his controversy-prone protégé in his tightly coiled opening verse. He’s actually the one who gets rumbling first: “F— all these labels, f— what everybody wants from you/They trying to Axl Rose you, ‘Welcome to the Jungle’/To be continued, we on that Norman Mailer s—/In search of the truth, even if it goes through Taylor Swift/Tell her this!” Yeah, he went there. Jay-Z isn’t really dissing or insulting Swift per se, but just hearing him call someone out by name in his music is rare enough to make this a rewind-worthy moment.
But this is Kanye’s remix, and he’s stepped up his lyrical game to make sure his verses are the ones people will remember when the track ends. The quotables are many. “I’m on my Van Gogh, I don’t hear s—,” he playfully boasts. A few lines later, he’s getting more explicitly political than he has since at least 2005, to my recollection: “Bring our troops back from Iraq, keep our troops out of Iran/So the next couple bars, I’ma drop them in Islam/They say as-salaam alaikum, say wa alaikum as-salaam/That’s no Oscar Mayer bacon, you should run and tell your mom/Now the question is, how we gon’ stop the next Vietnam/Keep Flex out of Korea, ’cause you know we drop bombs.” Others may disagree, but personally, I love Kanye’s anti-war stance. It says he’s not trying to sell records or smooth the way for his comeback; he’s speaking his mind no matter who it ticks off, and I’d respect that boldness even if I didn’t agree with his politics. (One nitpick: “Islam” is not actually a language, but I guess “I’ma drop them in Arabic” wouldn’t have rhymed as well?)
That’s not all! After the beat switches up to a Snap! flip courtesy of Swizz Beatz (“I’ve got the power!”), Kanye goes back to those lingering hurt feelings from last year’s VMAs. “See, I dreamed my whole life that I could rhyme with Jigga,” he spits, “Now Jay my big brother and Bey my little sister/And excuse me, but you can’t see my little sister.” Translation: He still thinks “Beyoncé had one of the best videos of all time.” Even if you think he acted like a schmuck at the VMAs, there’s something kind of sweet about how loyal he is to his close friends. I wonder how this will affect Chelsea Handler’s dream of reuniting West and Swift at this year’s VMAs…
Have you heard the “Power” remix? Looking forward to West’s new album this fall? Think he and Jay-Z are on point or over the line here? Sound off in the comments.
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