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Kanye’s Portrait of “Power” Decoded

Late last night [August 5] Kanye premiered the moving portrait “Power” to accompany his latest single. In the past, we’ve heard a million and one rappers tell us how their albums or videos are going to be “like a movie,” but Kanye, frozen in position from start to finish, kept his word of delivering a powerful piece of imagery that’s unlike any video we’ve ever seen before.

Putting himself in the shoes of the Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and intoxication (known as Bacchus to the Romans), ‘Ye, along with the help of director Marco Brambilla, successfully achieved his goal of depicting “what power would look like in a sort of timeless way.”

The opening screen shot has been floating around for weeks, so it’s no surprise that Kanye would kick off the video with a confirmation of his stature as a god/king by rocking the huge chain of Horus (the most powerful god/king in Ancient Egyptian religion) around his neck. Which somehow makes the chain look even more egregious than ever before.

As the video pans out we first notice Maenads on either side of ‘Ye each holding his signature Thyrsus (the staff). Maenads, which literally translates to “the raving ones,” …think “groupies.”

It’s unclear who the woman directly below Kanye is supposed to be. Her positioning and her angel wings would indicate that she’s a queen and/or goddess… but we’ll just call her Amber Shay(?)

The Sword of Damocles hangs threateningly over Ye’s head, as discussed previously on The Sword Of Damocles alludes to the story of Damocles and Dionysu—a warning of the hidden dangers that face men of power.


The other women are flanked on either side of ‘Ye are nymphs… And I know what you’re thinking but nymphs, the free spirited women who are known for two things: sex (including bisexual encounters) and bathing, are just as beautiful as they are dangerous. See that one up top with a knife? Yeah, if you were living in the times of ancient Greek gods you probably would’ve gotten got by these bathing beauties as well… 

More nymphs on either side are engaging in sexual acts with other women… tempting? Yeah, still dangerous though.

As the screen pans out even further you see even more Maeneds holding wine glasses overflowing with grapes—two symbols strongly associated with Dionysus as well. 

The camera cuts to focus at the end to focus on the men, dressed in clothing indicating that they’re from different parts of the world, who are attempting to kill the king. 

In the end we see that what once appeared to be an emerging scene of lavish livin has turned into a scene of chaos where the leader is surrounded by temptations and people all plotting his demise. And this is Power, visualized. —Brooklyne Gipson 


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