Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Kanye DEED That: His 2010 BET Performance...

I have to admit, there are times when I take the artistic genius of one said Kanye West, for granted. It is no secret this is a man who is uber talented and can produce some great songs that can make you bop
your head and two step. Around a month ago when Kanye released his single “Power” I made the same mistake. Upon first listen, there appeared to be a surface deep meaning to his lyrics. However, on a second, third, or even tenth listen within his aesthetic expression is the conundrum of hip hop: 
While many of us claim to want thought provoking, subconscious music, mainstream culture has so diluted the art form that we need “deep” lyrics spoon-fed to us. 

That was the position I was in when I watched Kanye West open up the 2010 BET Awards this past Sunday. So… he’s just going to stand on a mountain, wearing a Jesus piece around his neck, hold a microphone stand and rap this song? Ok den. I even openly admitted on Twitter that I was underwhelmed.

That was until yesterday afternoon when I watched the performance over again. Turns out Kanye was not at all rocking a Jesus piece, instead his chain boasted the head of Horus.

The depiction of Horus.

Egyptian history suggests that the Pharoahs of Egypt descended from the incarnations of Horus and his father, Orsiris, who was killed. Horus, himself was said to be from the lineage of Atum, the creator god. Like the other gods produced by Atum, Horus became representative of the cosmic and terrestial forces in Egypt. This degrees of separation Horus had between these forces, Atum, and the Pharoahs of Egypt decreed Horus to have dominion over the entire world. No one man should have all that power...

In addition to being connected to the Pharoahs, Horus is most notably known for being the god of the sky, as well as the god of war and hunting. The eye of Horus is also linked to the eye of time and synchronicity… The clock’s ticking I just count the hours...

The sky backdrop playing during Kanye’s performance raised a lot of eyebrows. However, knowing that this performance centered on Horus, it now makes sense. Then, to me it got deeper. In addition to being the god of the sky, Horus was known as the god of war and hunting. It was this mythological role that catapulted him as the symbol of power and majesty. Enter the mountains, to represent that of our purple majesty, a creation so widely recognized as being captivating and powerful. It is also important to note one of Horus’ identities, Ra-Haremkhuti, would spring from the mountains in the morning and return to the mountains at sunset.

People then commented on whether Kanye was supposed to be Moses at the top of the mountain. While there are similarities, I’d like to think there was more to it. Particularly, the lyric “no one man should have all that power” refers to an incident from the motion picture Malcolm X. In one scene, the black leader stood before a crowd of protesters, raised his hand and hushed the crowd. After seeing this a police chief commented “that’s too much power for one man to have.” In the beginning of his performance, while standing on the mountain, Kanye extends his arm and points above the crowd. This stance is similar to that of one of the leader's most popularized photographs.

However, if we were to explore the Moses parallels, Kanye speaks of “living in that 21st century, doing something mean to it.” In the latter part of the song, he talks about being the “abomination of Obama’s nation.” As we know, the first Black president of the United States has been lauded as the Dr. Martin Luther King of our time, who we know was also compared to Moses. With that being said, I believe his presence on the mountaintop also serves as a visual metaphor for Dr. King’s speech in which he articulates having “been to the mountaintop.” The microphone stand could also depict a staff, which goes back to the Moses reference.

PhotobucketI also believe that within this performance Kanye developed an alter ego and took on the persona of Horus. Kanye Afterall, this wouldn't be the first time that Kanye has pretended to be a deity, the Taylor Swift incident? Jesus Walks anyone? The image on the farthest left is that of Kanye West's Horus Chain. The second image is that of the pyramid ring Kanye wore. As shown in the picture of Horus above, the staff is in the same hand that is adorned with jewelry. Kanye imitates this on stage. Additionally, in his performance West rocks a red suit resembling the color of the Horus. As mentioned, the microphone stand is symbolic of a staff. This time, the staff of Horus. In this performance, Kanye appears to be channeling the likeness of Malcolm, Martin, and now Horus. West can also be seen flapping his arms in the beginning of his performance. This is important to note in a comparison, because Horus has been referenced as a falcon. 21st Century Schizo man...

The introduction of Horus certainly added depth to Kanye's performance. If applied, the Egyptian god also revealed a depth in his lyrics, which is another blog post entirely. The fact is, I have always excused Kanye West for being arrogant, because of in my opinion even if he never said another word, his work speaks for itself. Now? Even, if I am TOTALLY off mark with my assumptions, Kanye West has done with this performance what hip-hop is supposed to do: lead me to think outside the box.  

Good Ass Job, Mr. West...


  1. Wow! Very good read. Glad Kanye is finally getting back to his old ways. After re-hearing the song and its underlying meanings, and re-watching this performance full of subtle yet powerful imagery, I have a new Perspective of Kanye. Glad you posted this.

  2. Dope analysis! I'll have to watch the performance at a later time so I can see the comparison!

  3. AWESOME read!! And Kanye is always thinking, I love it!

  4. Wow. That was well thought out and well-written. You need to submit that to a journal or national publication, and at the very least a national newspaper. Excellent job!

  5. Thank you for this! I really appreciate your comment.

  6. Thanks Trasee!

  7. I'm late, but I appreciate your comment. I too missed Kanye for the lyrical genius he is! Thanks for reading and commenting :-)

  8. Thanks Kenya!


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