[artist id="1230523"]Kanye West[/artist] returned with a bang on Friday when his new track "Power" leaked online, making it the first offering from his highly anticipated next album. The MC has been keeping a relatively low profile in recent months, following his interruption of Taylor Swift's acceptance speech at last year's MTV Video Music Awards and subsequent apologies.
The Symbolyc One-produced "Power" finds West back in MC mode, firing away at his detractors and giving fans a preview of what's to come on his next project, which he's been recording in Hawaii with a slew of other artists and producers.
"I'm living in the 21st century, doing something mean to it," West spits on the opening lines. "Do it better than anybody you ever seen do it/ Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it/ I guess every superhero need his theme music."
MTV News spoke with a group of hip-hop pundits — both our own and from the wider rap journalism world — to get their takes on West's latest number.
"The song comes out, and it's like everything stops," said Minya Oh, a.k.a. Miss Info. "It's a really strong, aggressive beat that's not street, but the drums are undeniable. But the lyrics really got me."
West delivers his trademark punchlines, but his rhymes are also imbued with a biting aggressiveness, particularly when he targets "Saturday Night Live."
"F--- 'SNL' and the whole cast," West rhymes. "Tell 'em Yeezy said they can kiss my whole ass. More specifically they can kiss my a--hole."
" 'SNL' caught a bad one," RapRadar.com's Elliott Wilson said. "[The song is] real rap, like, 'I want my spot back.' [It's like Kanye saying,] 'Drake is cool; Wayne is my man; Jay, I bow to him, he's a legend, he's my father in this — but I'm here to smack you.' It's sport: 'F--- all of you, I'm the best.' "
"Kanye is tired of being messed with," MTV News' Jayson Rodriguez said. "The same way we got tired of the Kanye rants or the Kanye antics, he's pushing back: 'You know what, I'm tired of you f---in' with me.'
"It's a really loud warning shot," Rodriguez added. "Anybody who had the feeling, 'Watch out for Kanye's next album,' this song confirmed: You were right."
The combination of an embattled West, rapping with the spirit of an underdog but delivering masterful arrangements is nothing new, according to MTV News' Shaheem Reid.
"To me, that kind of embodies his whole career," Reid said of "Power." "Because there's always been people that doubted Kanye; there's always been people, for one reason or another, that just don't like the dude. But just like Kobe Bryant wins championships, Kanye West makes classic albums."
Everyone agreed that West now has the game's attention.
"Kanye did what he's supposed to do," MTV News' Sean Lee said. "He said he was back, and artists at his level, when they come back big with records, it's got to be an event."
What do you think of "Power"? How excited are you to hear Kanye West's next album? Let us know in the comments!