“Pyramids” contains two distinct stories told from different perspectives, which take place in two different time periods (namely ancient Egypt and modern day America). The stories are connected by similar story elements, themes, and the “Cleopatra” motif.
The first part of the story (the bridge) is told by an Egyptian Pharaoh, whose Queen — the real-life, historically famous, Egyptian ruler Cleopatra — has been kidnapped (he thinks). He sends out all his powerful forces to get her back.
The first verse likely sees this ruler envisioning a great and powerful future with his strong black Queen — this thought may have occurred before or after Cleopatra went missing
In the next verse the King has discovered that Cleopatra wasn’t taken against her will — she betrayed their kingdom and ran off with another man. This betrayal marks then end of Cleopatra’s life and of their once-powerful kingdom
The present-day story then begins (along with a change in the beat), with a man awaking (this may imply that the first part of the song was a dream or at least that we are now in a “new day”).
He describes waking up to “your girl”, which connects him with the Cleopatra-stealing man of the first story. The way he describes the girl suggests that the “Pyramid” she’s working at tonight is a strip club or some kind of prostitution den.
He then describes his life, which shows him as a moderately successful pimp; Cleopatra is presumably one of his “workers”.
The present-day storyline then continues — but is told from the perspective of a pitiful man who has hired a prostitute. She makes him feel wanted, though he’s an unemployed loser that has to pay for her services. The final line of his story implies that they had a relationship previously, where she actually loved him and he didn’t have to pay for it — connecting him with the cuckolded man of the Ancient Egypt story.
The entire song as a whole spins a rich and complex web of imagery and motif that touches on many topics and themes. Among the most prevalent are betrayal, infidelity, exploitation, and loss of dignity.
It is likely that Frank is exploring the fall of African-American people — from powerful black Kings and Queens to lowly pimps and hookers — through exploitation (by society, the “white man”, etc.), and their own doing
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