Kanye West: No Church in the Wild Meaning
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Song Released: 2011
Featuring: Jay-Z, Frank Ocean
No Church in the Wild Lyrics
Human being to the 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 be¬lieve in anything?
Will he make it out alive?
No church in the wild
For me Knaye's verse is really crap, but Jay-Z’s verse on this song is one of the most interesting on Watch the Throne as it combines religion, spirituality, and philosophy. It’s a deep verse.
There we go:
Tears on the mauseoleum floor
Blood stains the coliseum doors
These are great, brief images, like complex snapshots made by words—those sorts of photos that seem to suggest a scene. These give us moments of power asserting itself on weakness. In some grand, giant building, a mauseoleum, someone has been made to cry. On the door of the grand, giant stadium someone’s blood has been spilled. (Possibly many someones.) In societally-massive places someone has hurt someone else and left the mark of it behind. Thus Jay-Z slides into the song as a detached narrator, passing no judgment on these scenes, like a director starting the film with still images that tell so much but leave many questions, too. Also, really nice poetic work here rhyming a pair of four-syllable-then-one-syllable words.
Lies on the lips of a priest
Thanksgiving disguised as a feast
In the song’s first two lines, the images were literal but in these two lines the images have turned figurative. But still we have power asserting itself on weakness. Priests were once among the most powerful men in society—a time evoked by words like mauseoleum and coliseum. This lying priest is hurting the people who believe him absolutely just as the person (or people) who cried and bled in the previous lines were hurt. Also, this figurative image becomes more literal because the previous two lines were literal so he’s accustomed you to see images from the words so that when you get a figurative line you see that, too. So I visualize the lies—these malicious words sitting on his lips like diseased spittle, about to fly out to the people’s ears. The following line (about Thanksgiving) concludes the series of images with a celebratory moment that’s really a Trojan horse allowing the powerful to take advantage of the weak. Interestingly, the first three lines suggest old Europe— mauseoleum, coliseum, a place where Priests had hegemony—while the fourth line, the line about Thanksgiving, clearly evokes early America, though perhaps at the beginning of America they were still more European than American. Perhaps.
Rollin’ in the Rolls-Royce Corniche
All these lines are getting 2’s because of the overall story they’re telling and how well they fit together to build something that’s greater than the sum of the parts. Is this particular line great in a vacuum? Maybe not, though the alliteration is nice, but what makes it great is how it fits with the lines we’ve been given before. Jay’s been a detached narrator so far, giving himself no place in the story and not even passing judgment on the scenes he’s painting. Here he enters the story in style. In style linguistically—there’s an elegant subtlety to how he inserts himself into the narrative. He doesn’t say “I” but you know it’s him rolling in that expensive car. It’s almost like he’s driven into the story casually—because you wouldn’t drive that car fast. Keep this image in mind—Jay driving. He’s not just bragging. He’s placing himself as a character within the narrative. This is the moment where the verse becomes something of a scene.
Only the doctors got this, I’m hidin’ from police
Jay’s been talking about the interaction of power and weakness but here he locates himself within that conversation but he makes it unclear who’s got the power. He’s got a car that only doctors can afford, that only the rich can get, so it’s a signifier of his power but he’s gotta watch out for the police because they’re the power and they’ll stop him for Driving [An Expensive Ride] While Black. So Jay’s both powerful and not so powerful at the same time.
All white like I got the whole thing bleached
More great, precise imagery. The whole car is cocaine white, the crispest, sharpest white available. This continues the tangible, writerly detail he’s been giving us the whole song. And the bleaching is not just a reference to the car itself. “The whole thing” refers to Jay’s business and persona—he was in the streets and now he’s bleached his life. He’s clean. He’s a business, man. “Cocaine seats” puts the ghost of his old life into the air but we know there’s nothing that cops can stop him for. Except maybe Driving While Black.]
Drug dealer chic
I’m wonderin’ if a thug’s prayers reach
Drug dealer chic is what Jay’s style is all about but it’s not a line that’s blowing me away. But it links nicely with his allusions toward his coke-dealing days and his next line (I’m wonderin’ if a thug’s prayers reach) which goes back to the interplay between power and weakness and who’s truly powerful as well as launching us toward the religiosity alluded to in the song’s title and intro and discussed in depth in the next few lines. But it’s a great line in and of itself, a great philosophical question—do the prayers of an immoral criminal reach God’s ears? Does God take care of everyone or just those who are good? Keep in mind “I’m wonderin…” which may seem like a throwaway but isn’t—it’s there that the verse starts a trip into his mind. I see him cruising in his Corniche, pontificating, gettin all philosophical and shit.
Is Pious pious cause God loves pious?
This is an awesome line that deserves much more than 2. Jay’s taken the spiritual/philosophical question of the previous line to another level and dropped a deep and legendary philosophical question. This is the legendary Euthyphro dilemma in which Socrates asks “Is the pious loved by the gods because it is pious or is it pious because it is loved by the gods?” We’re talking Socrates now? We’re asking what is the source of what is Godly? Why are the things considered morally good considered that? How do we know what is Godly and why? In a polytheistic society, like the one Socrates lived in, this question was all the more complex: what if one god favors one behavior and another does not? This line, right after wondering if a criminal’s prayers would be answered by God, makes for a really deep pair of thoughts. In quick succession Jay’s wondered about the relationship to God of society’s moral lowest and highest. This, in a pop song?
Socrates asks, “Whose bias do y’all seek?”
Before he quoted Socrates, now he name checks him and gives us his own summary of what Socrates is saying. Whose opinion matters to you? Are you following reason or faith? This is a pop song?
All for Plato, screech
Now he’s naming Plato, Socrates’s homie. I can’t believe this sort of philosophical discussion and historical name-checking is flowing so smoothly in a pop song. But the 2 points here really goes to the seemingly insignificant “screech” which is a pivot point in the verse. It’s an onomatopoeia, of course, but it works two ways stopping two things. First it stops this line of deep philosophical discussion he’s been giving us. This is the pivot where he turns sharply and moves away from philosophy and into more classic Jay talk. But also, go back to the image of him in the car, when the Rolls enters the narrative. Jay describes the Rolls that he’s sitting in then says “I’m wonderin…” and the lines after that are a continuously deepening series of philosophical thoughts moving from a thug’s relationship with God to Socrates’s pondering the nature of piety. All these are thoughts he’s having as he’s rolling in the Rolls. It’s as if the voice of his inner monologue had been going in a voice-over. And then the car—the vehicle in which he’s having these thoughts—comes to a hard stop, a screech, and he snaps back to real life.
anonymous Oct 28th, 2011 10:45am report
what happened to "Jesus walks with me" Kanye?....you hypocrite
anonymous Sep 16th, 2011 9:17am report
This song is Kanye and Jay-z's musical interpretation of Aleister Crowley's saying "Do as Thou Wilt". 'The wild' being the world we live in, they are saying there is no room for religion or praise of a higher being. They fall into a category they believe in called 'God-body' as in they are gods themselves. Hence Jay-z constant references to himself as 'Jay-hova' If one does not accept an overseeing GOD or master Creator then it can be assumed that one does not accept the existence of a devil either since they go hand in hand. If you don't not accept the existence of a God nor devil then what do you base right or wrong from? There is no basis, only justifications of actions. This the meaning of 'Do as thou wilt'. The problem with this way of thinking is that this is what fuels wars, genocide, mass murders and other heinous acts, because this is the only way to justify doing absurd evil and still be able look at yourself in the mirror. Kanye and Jay-z made a song about it and camouflaged it in catchy hooks.
anonymous Nov 18th, 2012 11:21am report
### We formed a new religion
No sins as long as there’s permission
And deception is the only felony
So never fuck nobody without telling me ###
N.1 law of the code. Say yes or no. But we all are required to vote. You must ask the worshipful master permission to take upon things your own. If you do not ask. You will be sure to a sinful life.
Common people Rosicrucian & masonry. If organized religion has poisoned you, YOu WILL never see the light. Born in the dark with a lead soul.
When your castes into the lake of fire do you sink to the bottom or melt to the top like forged gold?
In this song, Jay is not saying god doesn't exit, he rather criticism the christian fundamentalists who follow the bible without question it. For god sake, this book was written more than 2000 years ago.
Both Kanye and Jay are Christians, but they can also accept that you have to look critically on it.
anonymous Aug 11th, 2012 8:19am report
I think this song is oneofJayz best work yet..because it really question societies view on religion..and old beliefs about god..Many forget that European Christianity which seperates God from man create more "holy wars" in the name of God. Jesus did say, we are gods and the Kingdom of heaven is within and we will do greater works then him. Many Christian can't see themselve as Creator..even though in the Bible it states we are made in likeness of the Creator. If God is ourFather at some point, we do become as him..the point we take 100% responbilty for our destiny.For some it is easier to blame a mythical devil and a mythical god and not access the power of The Real Creator that reside within us all. Thanks Jay and Kanye..keep shing your light..Many fear what they dont understand..
When I hear people singing this song I wanna cry because its so sad that they don't have a clue what this song means , and when you try to explain they don't wanna believe you and it's just so sad. This is my opinion but serisouly when I look at at Jay z and Kayne West i get so mad my face gets red like I really dislike them with a passion. Thats all im saying. P.S this is how my face looks
anonymous Jul 8th, 2012 7:34pm report
well i think the song is some Illuminati bs i belive in god himself so thats all i gottta say they will regret it when its they time 2 die
anonymous Jun 29th, 2012 6:56am report
This song is awesome. Maybe someday the world will wake up and realize how many problems religion causes. I don't understand how anyone who isn't completely brain dead could still believe in an imagainary,all-powerfull, all-knowing man in the sky. A man who is judgemental and egocentric, sentancing us to a fate of eternal suffering for not believing in his almighty authority.
anonymous Jun 12th, 2012 6:50am report
I wonder if this song means.....when someone becomes famous, of a minority etc, everyone else criticises & puts them down. Hence why they (those who are famous) feel that they have no safe haven (no church - a safe place) to go to? Those who are famous & in the "spotlight" are open to constant criticism about all that they do. If this is the meaning of the meaning, I don't blame them for feeling this way. Bet the haters couldn't deal with such criticism.
As for the religious zealots.....think again. Not everything actually means or relates to religion.
anonymous Jun 6th, 2012 6:44am report
What truly is god? What should I believe? I think this song asks why should I.... that's just my thoughts....
anonymous May 30th, 2012 5:22pm report
You religious maniacs, stop saying that they dont have talent just because they dont believe in your imaginary friend.
Seriously if god exists and is good why did he write such a crappy book
anonymous May 30th, 2012 5:06pm report
watch the video to, it's about ppl with no fear of god, when you are there in the battle with the riot cops no god will come to your rescue, why would he anyway, so in those moments and at the worst times you do things on your own, waiting for god will not resolve anything, being rational, taking action, doing something about it brings results in your life not praying, that's for the weak, for the ones who dont have enough courage to take action, i'm not saying faith is bad, but religion, oh well, the biggest crimes in the history of the world, and the biggest wars, were in the name of religion so, yeh, blame it on religion.
anonymous May 29th, 2012 5:52am report
those guys will be dealt with accordingly..you should youtube poloh co - church is wild... remake to this song..theres a lot more artist dropping knowledge over it as well
anonymous Apr 8th, 2012 4:09pm report
Jesus is number one, watch out for illuminati
anonymous Apr 8th, 2012 4:07am report
religious people are weak and scarred like children. A god is everything to them and nothing to those who knows better.
anonymous Mar 8th, 2012 3:31am report
stop smoking on your Jesus crack pipes you bible thumping delusionalists. this song is proof of why god doesn't exist. here we have two "sinners" that make tens of millions of dollars each, and then there's you who does everything your holy book says to do, and yet you aren't rich, famous, or as happy as these two guys are. the teachings are from the primitive bronze age, where people didn't understand such simple things such as hygiene or electricity. what makes you think they figured out everything about how the world works. bs.
anonymous Mar 3rd, 2012 3:15pm report
I think that they are influenced in a very bad way and they need to use their brains. Most singers start from a bad beginning live in poverty and the streets, and once they get to be wealthy and famous. That is what all they care about and that is why they become and 'Illuminati'.
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