The song debuted at No. 29 on the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart selling 42,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan. It took off online as well, skyrocketing to more than 100,000 plays on Cole's SoundCloud page in less than a day. The song was sent to Urban contemporary radio on February 19, 2013. The song has since peaked at number 19 on the Billboard Hot 100, marking his second Top 20 single in the US, after "Work Out", and number 46 on the UK Singles Chart, becoming his highest charting single there. The song has also became a Top 5 hit on US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and US Rap Songs, peaking at number five and number three, respectively. The song was nominated for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards.
The single marked the second collaboration between Cole and Miguel, following their moderate hit single, "All I Want Is You". Soon after releasing a five track extended play, titled Truly Yours, Cole released "Power Trip" on Valentine's Day. When asked about the single, Cole explained:
"The most exciting part about that song ['Power Trip'] and the reason why we went with it is that it sounds like nothing that's out. It was between that, and this other record that's like, maybe a bigger record, but 'Power Trip' had that newer sound. Like with 'Power Trip,' absolutely you couldn't point to any song on the radio and be like, 'Oh, this sounds like that'…everything from the beat to the way that I'm flowing, you've never really heard me so "sleepy". I really did them verses in my crib and just loved the way they felt."
Cole originally sang the song's soulful melodies himself, until a fateful meeting with Roc Nation founder Jay-Z. When J. Cole played it for Jay-Z, his first words were, 'Yo, you should get Miguel on this,'" Cole recalls.
The song is a continuation of his song "Dreams" from his mixtape The Warm Up, in which he obsesses over the girl and devises his plan to kill her boyfriend. J. Cole speaks about his "longest crush ever". He later stated his hopes for the song: "I've always wanted to use my voice to shift culture, even if just a millimeter."
In an interview on March 3, 2013 with radio personality Big Tigger, J. Cole said the visual to his new single Power Trip will be shot next week in his hometown of Fayetteville, North Carolina. The video treatment will be J. Cole’s very own idea, which he mentioned in a previous interview that the idea came to mind as he was creating the song." On April 8, 2013 along with announcing the release date for Born Sinner he announced that the video for "Power Trip" would be released the following day, which it was on April 9. J. Cole served as creative director on the video, and it was shot and directed by Nabil Elderkin and Mike Piscitelli.
The video begins with a strip-club scene, and then it follows J. Cole and one of his boys as they wait outside of a girl's house (Dinah Sade) — clearly the one who he has been up all night pining about with "constant drinking and love songs." Soon, we learn that this tank-top-clad girl has a boyfriend: Cole's collaborator, Miguel. As that sequence fades away, we are left to wonder where Cole and his friend are driving to and why there are pieces of wood and plastic bags tied to the top of their car. A suspicious cop pulls them over, but finding nothing besides a shovel in the trunk, he lets them on their way. It is not until the duo finally park in the woods and remove the items from the top of the car that we understand the rapper's obsession has actually led to murder.
"Power Trip" was met with generally positive reviews from music critics. NMB of XXL praised the song, as one of the album's strongest tracks along with "Crooked Smile" and "Let Nas Down". Phillip Mlynar of Spin said, "there's a more appealing, mild-mannered side to Cole that shines when he writes songs about relationships: The Miguel-abetted "Power Trip," especially, teeters on the edge of blooming into a melancholic OutKast single. Joven Haye of DJBooth.net praised the songs production, also saying "The captivating production brings out some savvy-storytelling from Cole, which when paired alongside one of the catchiest hooks of the year, solidifies the pair’s flawless chemistry."
Jay Soul of RapReviews.com also praised the song calling it, "a single that fits excellently within the structure of Born Sinner – the last verse of the previous song leads cleverly into it, and it's not by any means dumbed down." Francesca D'Arcy-Orga of PopMatters said, "It's one of the catchiest songs on the album. Interestingly, it’s a song that wouldn’t go amiss at all on Cole’s first album and is very similar in style to "Work Out", showing that Cole is still sticking to what he knows best regardless of whether Nas likes it or not." Corban Golbe of Pitchfork Media stated that, "once in a while he can create something catchy-- the Miguel-featuring "Power Trip" almost seems like it was designed in a lab for radio rotation."Complex ranked "Power Trip" number eight, on their list of the 50 best songs of 2013.HipHopDX said, ""Power Trip" may actually be one of the best radio-friendly Rap songs of the last five years."XXL would end up naming it one of the top five hip hop songs of 2013.