"Dedicated To The Winners & The Losers..." - Raekwon

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

On Bombast And King Crimson Samples: A Prayer For Lorne Michaels

"Call me when he starts sampling Night Ranger..."

Before we proceed with this de-facto review of Kanye West’s "Power," I want to make the most potentially and deliberately ignorant series of statements I might ever write quite clear. I do not care about sampling King Crimson in the slightest. Roughly a week ago, I was blissfully unaware of this band’s existence and was content to live in a universe where they did not exist. I do not have an opinion on King Crimson. I do not care about your opinion about King Crimson. In fact, I’m kind of resentful of being forced to live in a world where I’m forced to think about the implications of a King Crimson sample. Why? Because King Crimson does not matter. If they did, I most assuredly would have, at least, have HEARD of them. But I haven’t. So I can be reasonably be assured that a King Crimson sample is irrelevant to any possible enjoyment or hatred of a Kanye West song. Act accordingly, music geeks.

As for the offending song, Kanye West’s "Power", I like it more than I hate it. The song sounds like the mutant off-spring of Kanye’s production on "The Takeover" and Kanye’s (ghost producer’s) more bombastic production on "Swagger Like Us." This is a good thing. I thought "808s and Heartbreak" was a unique if slightly undercooked excursion into emo synth pop & b but it was not the Kanye West, I signed up for when I bought into the "College Dropout" hype. A return to the sample driven bombast of his earlier work would not only be welcome but a logical progression in the wake of his recent career missteps. I welcome this sound.

The song falls apart in terms of an attempt to address those aforementioned career missteps. "Power" is meant to be a defiant stand against those who vilified Kanye for his VMA disaster, his rampant, unchecked ego and his growing lack of self-awareness and humor about himself. He wants people to know that he’s not changing and is upset that you would even question his greatness. The problem is that he manages to undercut his entire message by wasting time battering limp pop culture institutions like Saturday Night Live. The song almost comes across as self-parody when he wastes 8 bars going after the venerable late night comedy program. Is Kanye really so thin skinned that he would attack a program that’s spent nearly four decades lampooning every relevant pop culture figure and institution? Does he not realize how sad and humorless that makes him look? If there is a reason to hate this song, it’s that.

Just know, I do not care about King Crimson. And never will.


NY City Chicken said...

Time out. A bro who doesn't know about King Crimson? B.J., I am shocked. And I bet this guy would be too:

Bros Love Crimson

DocZeus said...


As you know, I'm not your usual brand of bro. I like things like culture, dance and music from bands that don't suck.
Besides real bros know how to show their non-bro side.

Kronos said...

For informational purposes only: King Crimson was an early (late 60's) "prog-rock" band - a precursor to Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Their only significant "hit" was an overdone, synthesizer driven ode called "In the Hall of the Crimson King". A band your father might have listened to.

Christopher said...

How do you not know who King Crimson is? I though just about anyone who went through a "history of rock" phase at least has a cursory familiarity with "21st Century Schizoid Man".

Granted, I didn't know who Can were when Kanye sampled them three years ago, but Crimson are way more well known than Can.

DocZeus said...


I consider all other forms of music basically a feeder system for rap music. I didn't have a history of rock phase. I had a history of rap music phase.

tray said...

Yeah, I don't know what King Crimson is and I'm white too. The song isn't very good. It's not absolutely terrible. The beat gets repetitive after about 30 seconds. The shit about the beautiful death at the end is a disaster. The rapping's kind of good and kind of awful at the same time.

Anonymous said...

Wow, you are an idiot. If you haven't heard of something in your young life, it doesn't matter? Didn't know God has a blog. FYI, the hook in Slum Village's "Multiply" is a sample of "I talk to the wind" by King Crimson

Anonymous said...

Yo don't talk about music if you don't know shit about music. In the Court of the Crimson King is widely regarded as a classic album, and in all likelihood considered one of the best all time. They are on the forefront of bands that utilize and develop new music technologies. Some say they invented grunge. And don't say you don't have an opinion because you obviously formed one before ever looking into it. People like you need to get their heads out of their asses and stop thinking that they are a reputable source for music opinions. I guarantee you are unaware of about 50% of all the most popular bands in the past 70 years.

Mr & Mrs F. Power said...

Seems like you must be getting soft or something... or too many people read your opinion. Why would anyone give a shit if you don't know or care who KC is? If anything, it hinders your cred to spout off about how you are an ignorant music critic and then brag about being ignorant. It would be different if you intended to get informed, that might not be ignorance, but you're being straight ignorant.

Calling them a prog rack band and naming a hit or two is copy from any website... yawn.

King Crimson invented metal in the late 1960s. They stole one of the best drummers ever from Yes (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGprBR4Uc88), just as Yes became popular. They traded players with Talking Heads, were a huge influence on people like Brian Eno. As such, they exerted a lot of influence on electronic and avant garde music in general. They have done sh*t more recently with Porcupine Tree and Steven Wilson.

They are musicians musicians similar to, say, Eddie Harris or Charles Rouse.

Also, if you think you don't need to know all the other sh*t to know the history of hip-hop, you're missing a lot...

DocZeus said...

Yeah, I still don't care about King Crimson.

AnomalousRex said...

"I consider all other forms of music basically a feeder system for rap music. I didn't have a history of rock phase. I had a history of rap music phase."

You confine yourself to a very limited view of music. Rock IS the history of rap, foo'