The song “No Church in the Wild” follows a lineage of songs dealing with themes of the authenticity of religion and power structures of people in the United States, and particularly how those structures impact the lives of African Americans. These lineages date back to as early as the 1980s, around the time when hip hop emerged as a pillar of American popular culture.

Much like “No Church in the Wild”, Ice-T’s “Dear God Can You Hear Me” (2006) is extremely overt with its lyrics. Ice-T opens rapping, “I don’t even know if this n**** even listens, man/ F*** it.” On top of a similarly intense, melodic, old school beat Ice-T goes on to rap about the dangers he and his peers deal with in everyday life, such as feeling the need to carry guns everywhere they go and watching friends die. “God I don’t know your name/ I don’t know if you’re really there or if you even care about me / ….Please give me a sign, dear God can you hear me?” Ice-T questions in the chorus. Kendrick Lamar’s 2009 song, title “Faith”, also tackles religion head on. Here though, Lamar offers a more optimistic sentiment. In the chorus he sings, “What am I gonna do / Gotta have faith.” This song also talks about struggles those in the black community often face but chooses to be more hopeful. Kanye West’s 2013 track “I am a God” is interesting both because of its title and because it is a song from West, who is featured in “No Church in the Wild.” Futhermore, West has gained notoriety in recent years for developing a relationship with formal religion. In “I Am a God” he is a little more bold, rapping, “I am a God / Even though I’m a man of God / My whole life in the hands of God / So y’all better stop playing with God.”

As a hip hop song, “No Church in the Wild” naturally shares lineages with music that protests social injustices. Perhaps the most well known of these songs is “F*** Tha Police by N.W.A. which was released in 1988. Though much of the language in this song is aggressive to the point of hyperbole, the group offers notable thoughts like, “Searching my car lookin’ for the product / Thinkin’ every n**** is selling narcotics,” which points out discrepancies in how people are treated across races. Along these lines, Public Enemy’s 1989 hit “Fight The Power” embraces black culture and urges listeners to be prideful of who they are despite systemic injustices. The song even mentions famous racists by name and says that they shouldn’t mean anything. A more modern version of social protest in hip hop music is Lupe Fiasco’s 2011 song “Words I Never Said.” Fiasco goes on a long-winded rant about many issues present in the world at the time. Some notable quips include “Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist / Gaza strip was getting bombed Obama didn’t say s***,” and “Jihad is not a holy war, where’s that in the worship? / Murdering is not Islam.”

Often, hip hop music is stereotyped as being loud and containing insignificant messaging. Following the lineage of “No Church in the Wild,” which is a fascinating song in and of itself, shows that the history of rap music is littered with songs addressing similar talking points.