Ryan Jones Professor Brian Burkhart College Composition I 13 November 2012 “No Church in the Wild”: From a Theologic Standpoint With the release of their newest CD, Watch the Throne, many of Jay-Z and Kanye West’s most exclusive tracks have come under scrutiny. One particular song containing debatable yet obvious theological symbolism is “No Church in the Wild. Citing and exclaiming their religious and social beliefs, as well as their activities in today’s society in this new song, Kanye West and Shawn Carter (Jay-Z) show deep symbolism of today’s culture, the influence of Plato and Socrates on them, as well as their controversial lifestyles. Also, containing a featured chorus by Frank Ocean and a bridge by The-Dream, these parts touch on the symbolism and influence of religion and love in many lives today. The Watch the Throne duo revealed their theological beliefs in this song in many ways typical of their style.
The song starts off with Frank Ocean’s hook: “Human beings in a mob, What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a God? What’s a God to a non-believer who don’t believe in anything? ” Each of these couplets have significance to one another and are all tied together. He starts off by saying that there are human beings in a mob. But what is one human being to a mob? It is insignificant by number, but numbers make up the masses. He then goes on to ask “What’s a mob to a king? ” creating the question that asks: can a mob of people overcome a king or is a king too powerful?
But what is a “king to a God? ” Does a mortal king have as much power as an almighty spiritual God? The song begins to unfold when Frank Ocean sings, “What’s a God to a non-believer who don’t believe in anything? ” Frank Ocean brings up an interesting question: if a God is almighty and powerful and has influence over it’s followers, what does this God mean to a non-believer? A non-believer does not care about a God’s existence, so to this person, this God does not even exist or matter. God has just went from being the most powerful being in the universe to superstition.
The hook is ended with and also begins the song with the line “Will he make it out alive, alright, alright, no church in the wild. ” This line touches on the “non-believer” who doesn’t believe in a God and is, in a sense, in the wild. The non-believer has no one protecting him, including a God, so will he be safe in this world where there is no church and God protecting him? As Frank Ocean’s hook of the song endz, the song breaks down and Jay-Z’s verse begins. Jay-Z touches on some philosophical and religious topics throughout his verse.
During the second line of his verse, he raps, “Lies on the lips of a priests, Thanksgiving disguised as a feast. ” What if every priest, the messenger for God, whom was supposed to spread the truth, was just telling lies? With the media, Internet, and other means of communication, it is hard to tell what information is true. Thanksgiving, the American holiday to celebrate America’s independence and God’ provisions for our nation, but is tabooed by the fact that we killed numerous Native Americans for our nation.
In his sixth line, he states, “Drug dealer chic, I’m wondering if a thug’s prayers reach,” which is also a Tupac reference, and wonders whether or not a thug or criminal’s prayer is reached by God. From lines 7-9 (“Is Pious pious cause God… I know y’all hear my sneaks”), Jay paraphrases “The Euthyphro Dilemma”: Do the gods love holy (pious) things because they are pious, or are those things that are pious made in this holy way because the gods love them? This comes back to Socrates and his questioning and wondering of why we do things for certain people or the gods to make them happy for no reasoning?
Why do we want to make God happy? It is because we are told to make God happy through worship. Socrates does it all for Plato, who was killed for his philosophy and way of thinking. In the next lines, he compares Jesus to Kanye West, as “Jesus was a carpenter, Yeezy he laid beats,” and Jay-Z is the Holy Spirit, “Hova flow the Holy Ghost. ” Ending his verse, Shawn Carter hands the mic over to The-Dream The-Dream begins by singing this bridge in a very high-pitched, trance-like manner. It transitions from “the wild” being a literal wild to being a “state of nature” like love.
As stated, he says, “I stand by you, walk through the fire, Your love is my scripture, Let me into your encryption. ” The-Dream thinks of “the wild” as life, as we fight through it in search of this love. With the conclusion of the bridge, Kanye West’s verse begins and he begins by comparing a woman’s black, cocaine-covered skin to zebra stripes. He then states in the fifth line, “We formed a new religion… ” As the verse unfolds, we can see that Kanye West lives this life where he places the highest value on sexual pleasure and exploration with drugs.
As long as sexual partners are open and trusting of one another, it is okay to go outside of their relationship for sex. He believes monogamy limits life to only one love. Kanye talks about a girl he met during a crazy night. He says she had “Two tattoos one read ‘No Apologies,’ the other said ‘Love is Cursed by Monogamy. ’” Kanye believes that monogamy kills and limits love, so why does society believe that it should limit it’s love to one person? Kanye ends his verse by stating “When we die the money we can’t keep, But we probably spend it all cause the pain ain’t cheap, preach. Kanye West is honest in his verse. When we die, we can’t keep the money or the material possessions we gained in this life. Since life is so hard and Kanye works so hard to get this money, he will probably just end up spending it all because of the pain. The song loops back to Frank Ocean’s hook and ends. Jay-Z and Kanye West shook the rap game when they preached their theologies in “No Church in the Wild. ” Kanye and Jay believe that there may be a god, but the god we see in organized religion is tabooed by monogamy and other twenty-first century customs.
To survive and enjoy life on this materialistic and mainstreamed earth, we must move past established religion and live our own lives and create our own religion, just as Kanye West does. There is no guarantee that any religion will lead you to salvation, but we know we are just as well off if we follow our own path. This track gives insight on the way one lives, loves, and worships today. How does one want to live in a world with suffering, injustice, monogamy, and other social turmoil? Shawn Carter and Kanye West know not to look for the church in the wild. No Church In The Wild” (with Jay-Z) (feat. Frank Ocean) [Frank Ocean] Human beings in a mob What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a god? What’s a god to a non-believer? Who don’t believe in anything? We make it out alive All right, all right No church in the wild [Jay-Z] Tears on the mausoleum floor Blood stains the coliseum doors Lies on the lips of a priest Thanksgiving disguised as a feast Rollin’ in the Rolls-Royce Corniche Only the doctors got this, I’m hidin’ from police Cocaine seats All white like I got the whole thing bleached
Drug dealer chic I’m wonderin’ if a thug’s prayers reach Is Pious pious cause God loves pious? Socrates asks, “Whose bias do y’all seek? ” All for Plato, screech I’m out here ballin’, I know y’all hear my sneaks Jesus was a carpenter, Yeezy, laid beats Hova flow the Holy Ghost, get the hell up out your seats Preach [Frank Ocean] Human beings in a mob What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a god? What’s a god to a non-believer? Who don’t believe in anything? We make it out alive All right, all right No church in the wild [The-Dream] I live by you, desire
I stand by you, walk through the fire Your love is my scripture Let me into your encryption [Kanye West:] Coke on her black skin made a stripe like a zebra I call that jungle fever You will not control the threesome Just roll the weed up until I get me some We formed a new religion No sins as long as there’s permission’ And deception is the only felony So never fuck nobody wit’out tellin’ me Sunglasses and Advil Last night was mad real Sun comin’ up, 5 a. m. I wonder if they got cabs still Thinkin’ ’bout the girl in all-leopard Who was rubbin’ the wood like Kiki Shepard
Two tattoos, one read “No Apologies” The other said “Love is cursed by monogamy” That’s somethin’ that the pastor don’t preach That’s somethin’ that a teacher can’t teach When we die, the money we can’t keep But we probably spend it all ’cause the pain ain’t cheap Preach [Frank Ocean:] Human beings in a mob What’s a mob to a king? What’s a king to a god? What’s a god to a non-believer? Who don’t believe in anything? Will he make it out alive All right, all right No church in the wild No church in the wild No church in the wild No church in the wild