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 XXLMag.com 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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  • these posts are racist

    Pride comes before the fall.

    In this case. Pride then fall, the Pride again.

    Learn Kanye, learn. Blasphemy is not hot on the streets……….

  • smokey

    how the hell was any of that blasphemous. people need to stop looking for signs where there are none. they are musicians, not religous leaders or anything else.

    • realtalk

      so young so stupid if it isnt blasphemous what is it anytime you depict yourself as a higher being its blasphemous he is no king he is no leader he has no power he look into what the real message behind the song is he ask how can one man have all that power who is he questioning god


    I thought Kanye was interning at Louis Vuitton. Now he’s a greek god. WOW.

  • http://twitter.com/bellamy973 Bellamy


  • W. J. Rice

    Very interesting portrait. I completely disagree with the blasphemy statement. He’s depicting the story of power. What does religion have to do with this particular portrait?

  • Sha

    This joint is the dopest video I’ve seen in a long time. I can seriously say,


    People will call it blasphemous but they don’t know the history.

    Thanks XXL for breaking it down for this dummies.


  • Sha

    This joint is the dopest video I’ve seen in a long time. I can seriously say,


    People will call it blasphemous but they don’t know the history.

    Thanks XXL for breaking it down for this dummies.


  • I’m At Work And Bored

    I’ve waited so long for Kanye to make JESUS WALKS part 2. Instead, I got HORUS WALKS? So disappointed, I’m gonna go drink some Jesus juice and call it a day.

  • smojo

    Soo, does this mean Kanye realized the story of Jesus is bull, and Horus was the true god of the sun where all these religions tried to personify?

  • romil


    • RDS

      Perfect example of someone pretending to know more than he/she does, but failing miserably to actually counter with an intelligent arguement.

      You likely stopped reading after “God Dionysus”, which would explain why you think anything in here has anything to do with blasphemy.

      But hey…at least it’s got people talking about Kanye again.


  • omen

    hey look a conclusion… lets jump to it

  • J. Blazin

    This is a timeless video. Kanye’s always on a another level . Classic album on da way!

  • Freeman

    Ye don lost his way. From Jesus chain to Horus chain, the dude is the biggest marketing hypocrite to hit the rap game this decade. This is taking things to a whole other level.

  • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

    “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”

    ^ sounds like the music industry, doesn’t it?

    Cats have to understand that this visual is pre-Christianity (I see you smojo). Everyone does not believe in the Christian faith. This statement is shots at no one, but absolute actual fact.

    There are many times people in powerful positions say god, and you don’t know WHAT god they are talking about, you just ASSUME it’s YOUR god.

    I see this ‘Ye video the same way I saw Big Daddy Kane emulating Egyptian garb on his 1st album.

  • beaver

    idk but this reminds of pac..

    “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. ”

    besides that..video is fuckkin amazing..great shit..
    kanye is ill.

  • BxRa

    So Kanye West is so important to y’all that you’d let him lead you to the Devil? Fuck Outta Here twice on Friday. That fuckin demon in training got totally wiped off my iPod last night. Oh and if you listen the dude is saying “the devil’s seed” over and over again, just so you can’t say nobody told you…

    • GregSIDE

      Y’all r a bunch of fuckin’ idiots. It’s called art. If any thing it shows how fucked up it can get when ur in a position of power. I guess since Jay finally spit about NOT being a mason the fruit loops are jumping to ‘Ye. If u don’t like it don’t listen bitches.

    • Anonymous

      C’mon Man! Really, Devil’s Seed????? Try again my friend.

  • Infamous1


    • RDS

      All Gods were bisexual. You can stop reaching. And it’s “gullible”. Gull-i-ble…


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  • ff1one@yahoo.com

    this video is beyond dope. How can you say you love hip hop and not appreciate this work of art. Oh, okay, you are the casual rap fan who like hip hop for the sounds and to get a few bucks from it.

    Nah, this song and video is dope. its no blasphemy. Kayne is letting you know that he did learn. he’s showing that he was studying his history. You can appreciate history and not change your religion. the problem with a lot of Relaigion people are they aren’t real with themselves. Keep it real, and look at this from an artistic prospective and you would get it.

    dope video kayne.

  • jesus


    • Gotta Wonder

      Get da fuck outta here with that devil shit. You the Devil for making statements like that. If you have any negativity in you, You have the devilish nature. Right now your judging Him and, probably everybody else, Only God can judge. Christian beliefs are far fetch, any religion telling you to take of this Cup representing my Blood and , break of this Bread which represents my flesh, is Cult and, Secret Society Order. Jesus was nothing more than a messenger, Nothing more, Jesus wasn’t even his real name He never stated in that book called the bible he was a Christian. The entire bible is encoded by Masons. You would have to be a High degree of Masontry to decode it. Plus God and the Devil are one in your mind they Are Your Concious, Anytime you hear that voice telling you its wrong its God, anytime you ignore it, its your devilish side. So come again with that bullshit! I study for facts and not fiction and something that’s been fed to me, I read and study, and come with my own opinion. Stop getting brainwashed and, use your brain. Besides he’s just giving you a picture of life in general for people who have power, and how your surroundings change when you have Power.

    • Anonymous

      Really??!!!! LOL!!! Now that’s blasphemy 4 ya Ace!!!

  • A-alike2

    There’s a few inconsistencies in this analysis:

    Kanye West isn’t depicting himself as Dionysis. Kanye= Damocles. The Dionysis in the story having to do w/ the sword is not the Greek god. Read the story of Damocles and think about Kanye’s lyric from “Run This Town” (“this the life that everybody ask for”)

    After looking up the “Maenads”, I haven’t come across any that had horns. I know the horns are possibly there to emphasize “horny” women and they also resemble the horns of Horus.

    The angelic looking woman beneath Kanye has no attributes of royalty or that of a deity. The four wings represent an angel of a higher order. She might be a fallen angel maybe representative of Taylor Swift. Taylor was viewed as the sweet innocent little girl that Kanye publicly humiliated.

  • Ennis Smith

    This video is merely a portrait of both the excesses and dangers of power. (Kudos for XXL for breaking it down for the uneducated). In all of history there are no greater stories about the rise to and fall from power than in the Greek mythologies. Maybe the story of Julius Caesar or Shaka Zulu, but none in the abundance of Greek myths. It has nothing to do with religion. So please stop looking there. History aside this video might be the best realization of a song in video form than there has ever been. It truly depicts everything that comes with power. The fear, adulation, opulence, and the hatred that comes along with being powerful. Like it was said in ‘King Henry the IV’ “Heavy is the head that wears the crown”.

    • A-alike2

      There are religious undertones in the “portrait.” The Greek mythologies themselves are religious as is the medallion around Kanye’s neck. Although, they may not be implications of Kanye’s religious beliefs, there are a lot of religious themes in the video. The background resembles Michaelangelo’s Fresco which draws from a Catholic influence. The angel wings and the horns are also religious.

  • JC

    Another CLASSIC visual from Kanye West…ain’t NOBODY doing visuals like him…NEXT LEVEL.

  • adrian smith erdington birmingham

    kanye west power does it again video classic sick just drop the album def jam do a good job not like with big boi album mess up big time shame on def jam big boi album sick love it peace check me out on twitter sickltd

  • stephen binos

    this portrait painting of kanye will place him as the king of some satanic illuminaty cult.thats how people will see it,jay z is stepping down 4 mr west with his memoir

  • Ruthless

    kanye is very over rated, he is a brilliant producer but thats about where it ends. Think of this song, did he say anything classical in it? No, it was just a gud song. This ‘video’, will it change hip hop? Ofcourse not, as it just potrays kanye having a big ego as usual. Cant deny that it had gud visuals but after a few months it will all be forgotten.

  • Arlano352

    why does this video need to be decoded…i thought it was horace on his chain..blah blah blah… the truth is

    This is Soaked in masonic imagery,from the ionic pillars from the temple of diana at (some of these temples depicted satan as a beautiful women) to the Anubis/pharo on his chain.when the video zooms in on the women in the chair(Satan) it shows Ye’s feet and you can see the chain ]..taking on the position as if he is wearing an apron..the two men meeting the steel (swords)above his head completes the sign of induction of the 20th degree or the GRAND MASTER OF ALL SYMBOLIC LODGES…the philosophy of this degree is that he (the candidate)is to illuminate the world in more inventive ways because initially it was easy for you profanes to understand the symbolism…which is the forceful intention of this video..back to the swords…you see a sword impaling a halo then you see the sun beaming bright..and a halo become more visable and the sword less visible leaving just the halo..signifying GODS SON or SUN GOD,this video emphatically implies duality..the two sets of the horned women the same types of dancers on each side of the fresco

    the sublime drama aint that sublime

    check me out
    YOUTUBE 2 min 40 sec

    • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

      “and a halo become more visable and the sword less visible leaving just the halo..signifying GODS SON or SUN GOD”

      “to the Anubis/pharo on his chain”


      ^ Anubis is the Egyptian god of the afterlife (NOT HELL), Ra is the sun god. Anubis is depicted w/horns, and that ‘Ye medallion clearly does not have horns.

      It looks like a falcon, like Horus, whose tales of resurrection, being born from his mother w/o sexual intercourse, are similar to those of Jesus, thus the reason many are saying THAT IS KANYE’S NEW JESUS PIECE.

      Osiris(dad)/Isis(mom & wife)/Horus(son)

      If your interpretations are that of masonic origin, this would prove what many are saying, that the origins and tales of the Egyptian deities have been tampered with to fit an agenda, the same thing that has been said about the bible.

      p.s. I would think if ‘Ye wanted a representation of an apron, he could’ve worn a kilt, and made a fashion statement, like he usually does.

      • Helio Amun

        Kanye is bright and is doing his part to open the I’s of those with enough sense to ask question & search 4 answers. Read up on Greeks,Jews, & then check your own background & surroundings. 96 if you aren’t afraid 2 learn a lesson.
        B.T.W ….9 = I 6 = F
        & you can switch it around to see “FI” or PHI…21
        Keep doing YOU brother

  • Arlano352

    *pillars from the temple diana at ephesus

  • Arlano352

    @ ennis..why do you think XXL knows more than enyone else..cause they are XXL..
    or what???

  • Arlano352

    annubis is the dog star or the blazing star in masonry…
    a kilt..hes a fag not a scot..well maybe the fraternity is but actually not.its french…a whole nother topic..
    this is the same hero god story


    • http://www.bboycult.com $yk

      “annubis is the dog star or the blazing star in masonry”

      “If your interpretations are that of masonic origin, this would prove what many are saying, that the origins and tales of the Egyptian deities have been tampered with to fit an agenda”

      ^ I rest my case

  • http://www.myspace.com/sylintknieght corey bryant

    big ups to kanye west keep doin ya thing my man lots of respect to ya

  • YOM

    This Shit is WACK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Dudes pray to the MOST HIGH,
    GET PAID and forget what got em there.
    I ain’t mad at him or the folk who blindly follow the powers that be off the cliff.


  • Arlano352

    ur right

  • Charles

    Whats wrong with hip hop. Idiots like you people taking time to decipher a fucking video. The song is the shit, dont make it more than what it is. I.E. Jay Z’s on the next one(video). People made something out of nothing.

  • Mike

    Kinda funny how yall all got know something about blasphemy but most of yall never attend church

    some of yall are just to stupid to be on the internet……. most of yall are stupid and believer everything you hear….

    just live your fucking life and let everybody else live, and stop talking about shit you know nothing about….damn

  • Asparaghost

    this is what happens when idiots spend more time on the internet than reading books smh

    there’s nothing satanic about Horus, let alone wearing a chain of so, if anything its positive..and its not worse than wearing a false image of Jesus Christ..

    I swear all you illuminati/devil worship conspiracy theorists need to open a goddamn book and stay off youtube/wikipedia/documentaries, because yall learning from each other..shit it horribly annoying..dumbest trend of all time, its like arguing about Dragons and Fairies..seriously they’re are more concrete threats and problems out there for you all to dwell on this bullshit smh..waste of energy and potential..

    but yo shout out to Kanye for this historically themed visual, I dig it, as an artist myself, I’m very impressed with the style and techniques they used, which I think is th emost significant part of this vid to tell the truth..fuck all the “devils & angels” shit, its a beautiful video, impossible to ignore..

    kudos to dude

  • Esco

    wow, dude isnt even trying to hide anything, least hes being honest, props to kanye for being such a little whore

  • Apollo 13

    This is the way i see it…. We listen to rappers go on about committing acts of adultery, selling drugs Murdering and theiving. And we Don’t Say Oh, They’re doing the Devil’s Work. But we see this Kanye Video and say that he’s a devil etc.. get what i mean? But the Horus Chain opposed to the Jesus chain shows a change i do not like. ALSO to everyone trying to disprove Christianity or any other religion, get outta here! i aint going to say nothing about ur religion so dont talk about mine!!

  • Peace2UAll

    Peace to you all,
    Pagan gods such as Apollo of the Greeks, Hercules of the Romans, Mithra of the Persians Horus of the Egyptians and Baal of the Babylonians,were all supposed sun-gods. With that being stated, its not actually sad what happens to the People that strive for the Glitz and Glamour of this world because they are only being true to thier carnal selves not paying heed to the Natural Good conscience we were all created with. And being that we have free Will to chose between right and wrong, and then to have Knowledge that “GOD”(everybody knows deep inside, regardless of what thier nouth says) exists but then again chose not to find out about “The Creator” of everything, then you are as The creator say´s “Those who reject Our Ayat (proofs, evidence, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.) are deaf and dumb in the darkness. God sends astray whom He wills and He guides on the Straight Path whom He wills.” The actions of the participants of the Music industry are Blaspemous because everything is Glorified but GOD, and here in this video is just the Blatant proof that those in Power know that the Ignoranten that live and love and breath this music will do nothing but continue to listen and purchase it without actually doing that what our Creator requires us to do and that is :”(This is) a Book (the Qur’an) which We have sent down to you, full of blessings, that they may ponder over its Verses, and that men of understanding may remember. ” Its just that simple use your brain and don´t get caught up in the illusion that the Devil is presenting you. You know, the Devils greatest accomplishment is to make Mankind believe that he, Heaven, and Hell doesn´t exist. Think and Really take a long look at yourself people and ask yourself, am i just born to go to school, get a degree, get a job work til i can´t anymore then retire and die. Life isn´t that simple people WAKE UP! Peace be upon all of you that may read this and May God guide you all onto the right path.


    ATL Hustle

  • YoUtopic

    As an atheist, I think people need to chill and just listen to the music.

    No-one can prove God exists or doesn’t exist, because the concept of God is subjective. Some people believe God is a zombie on a cross and some people believe God is just the universal idea of peace.

    I’m an atheist, but I still bump that Jesus Walks anyday. Why? Cause one: The song is dope and two: as long as your religious beliefs aren’t hurting anyone, we should be tolerant and respectful of other peoples beliefs.

    Kanye’s video is art, and the best art challenges us and our beliefs.


  • kb

    its amazing the number of drug dealing/using, out of wedlock/multiple partner-premarital sex having, 3+ baby momma havin, no kid raising niggaz is walking around talkin about all this masonic devil worshiping bullshit. If you are a christian (and i’m not) arent you going to the same hell Jay z is going to for “leading a cult”? I thought “a sin is a sin” I’d rather hear about unicorns being ridden by leprichauns pouring magic fairy dust on the oompaloompas. They are both as believable.

  • BeerGangsta

    If Kayne West can stop crying like a Bitch. About a Dam Award. He would be ok. I like how is different from the rest of the Rappers. Always go Platium!!

  • El Tico Loco

    If people use religion as way to find substance in living a righteous life, if it turns out that their beliefs are not true, what did they lose? Nothing! They lived as a relatively good person(in most cases) and left a righteous legacy. If it turns out to be true, who has more to lose a non believer or a believer? Of course we’re talking about after everybody gets sorted out.

  • r hamilton

    Kanye is probably the best hip hop producer,bar none.He is definitely the best producer turned rapper.If he does not start refocusing on his MUSIC and forgetting about his “Visuals”,he’s not going to have a career to speak of.This whole video is a cheap “300″ rip-off.I thought it was interesting that he did not even have the courage to complete the whole song.What happened to the verse about SNL and what not? Loren Michaels probably told him he would shut his shit down if he put his show’s name in a video.Kanye’s god is Mammon not Horus or Jesus.It’s all about money,people.

  • Anonymous

    Kanye kan blasphemenate my d*****ck

  • gaddic

    All you pious Christian fucks are such ignorant truculent cock-suckers

    Here you are criticizing a rapper when you annually celebrate Christmas(a pagan Roman holiday in honor of the birth of a HOMO-Sexual god Saturn on the 25th of december-called Saturnalia-a homosexual festival in which countless men had orgies and liasions with other men after beating their wives) and become vacuous followers of a religion created by one of the most sadistic immoral European rulers in history.

    Get off kanye’s ass

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  • Antboy

    Fuck all yall niggas in that fuckin illumunati shit yall fake ass hell if yall killed micheal jackson come kill me hey i live in raleigh North Carolina kanye and the aint no illumanati imfao