In “No Church in the Wild” Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean comment on a number of hot button social topics such as romantic relationships and the significance and legitimacy of organized religion. The famed artists are extremely overt with their assessments, speaking quite frankly about their thoughts on top of a repetitive, adrenaline inducing beat.

The song begins with its chorus, which gets right to the point. “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?” belts Ocean. “Alright, alright, no church in the wild.” It’s quite apparent that Ocean does not speak in abstract language in the chorus, but takes direct aim at power structures, seemingly questioning their existence. From the get-go, it’s clear this is not just simply a catchy tune. This is not unfamiliar territory for Ocean, who rose to fame by singing gut-wrenching, thought provoking songs such as “Bad Religion” which discusses his unrequited love for someone of the same sex. It makes sense that Ocean would speak on religion, too.

Next, Jay-Z goes on his rant, also going straight for the throat. “Blood stains on the Colosseum doors / Lies on the lips of a priest / Thanksgiving disguised as a feast,” he raps. Here, Jay-Z seems to be questioning the legitimacy of well known cultural pillars, specifically naming priests and the holiday Thanksgiving. Later in the verse, he continues, “I’m wondering if a thug’s prayers reach / Is Pious pious ’cause God loves pious? / Socrates asked, whose bias do y’all seek?…/ Jesus was a carpenter Yeezy laid beats.” Jay-Z is intent on imploring the listener to dig deeper into these concepts.

West also raps about religion in his verse, saying, “We formed a new religion / No sins as long as there’s permission”. He goes on to rap, “The other said ‘love is cursed by monogamy’ / It’s something that the pastor don’t preach.” It appears West is complementing the verses by Ocean and Jay-Z by also making provocative statements on religion.

Surely, the genre of the song enables these critiques. Hip hop/rap is an ideal platform for a quick, attacking lyrical delivery as Jay-Z and West both use. The harsh beat only amplifies the rappers words. Combine this with Ocean’s soothing singing voice (which offers lyrics that are more vague and less aggressive, in my opinion) and “No Church in the Wild” is just the kind of rap song that succeeds- edgy, catchy, and vulgar. The language in the song fits perfectly for the genre which makes for a perfectly modern critique of organized religion.

Still, the artists don’t really offer any concrete solutions to these problems. They pretty much just say, “Hey this is messed up” or “I don’t necessarily agree with this popular opinion” without going much further. Because of this, it’s helpful that they’ve all made public comments on religion in the past.