“Without Me” by Eminem was released in 2002 and is one of the acclaimed rapper’s most recognizable songs. It tells a story of how Eminem, also known as Slim Shady, saves the world from boring music as he lashes out against his critics and competitors. The song gives Eminem a platform to berate, make fun of, and pump his chest, but that is not all it does. When considering “Without Me”, it’s critical to evaluate Eminem’s role in the rap industry, particularly in 2002, where he was considered a token white rapper. Eminem was (and still is) an extremely controversial artist due to his race and consistently harmful lyrics. This song protests every negative thing that was said about the rapper to that point and as Eminem responds with a simple message: he doesn’t care.

The music itself is catchy and upbeat. While I do not have a musical background and do not know the technical definitions of the sounds I’m hearing, it’s easy to say this song is energetic. Eminem makes sure to catch the listener’s attention with engaging, spirited sounds that leave the listener wanting to dance along.

The lyrics of the song are downright eye-popping. He goes so far as to call out individuals who critisized him in the past. For example, he raps, “I know that you got a job Ms. Cheney, but your husband’s heart problems are complicating,” taking a shot at the former Vice President. Eminem even makes mention of Elvis, who is another white man who gained immense success in a genre traditionally dominated by black musicians.

Naturally, the Eminem’s infamously aggressive, screaming style of delivery is present in this song. It could be argued that in this kind of song, where he attacks his critics and demands respect, the delivery stands out even more. It makes perfect sense that Eminem is yelling these lyrics to us because he wants us to pay attention.

“Without Me” was the lead single on his fourth studio album, The Eminem Show. The lyrics, delivery, and album title contribute to Eminem’s basic message that he does not care if he’s white or that is lyrics often offend. He wants respect regardless.


“No Church in the Wild” by Jay-Z and Kanye West featuring Frank Ocean is nothing short of dramatic. The song makes use of slow, thumping guitar riffs, a somber synthesizer, and drums to reinforce the seriousness of the song, which takes aim at the institution of religion. In the Huffington Post, Monica R. Miller describes the song as, “an existential rejection of organized religion.”

While “Without Me” is the type of song that would fit into a workout playlist, “No Church in the Wild” is meant to be carefully appreciated. The lyrics are sharp and demand thought. In the chorus, Ocean sings, “What’s a god to a nonbeliever who don’t believe in anything?” This kind of ominous questioning leaves the listener deeply pondering what the musicians have to say on the topic as the song progresses.

To me, I understand the song as an interrogation of the meaning of life and its institutions. Jay-Z, West, and Ocean are essentially asking “Why?” over and over again. Given the prominence of organized religion, and the references that each of the artists has made about religion both before and after the song’s release, “No Church in the Wild” provides an interesting commentary to one of life’s most pervasive questions.