Given the length and success of Jay-Z, Kanye West, and Frank Ocean’s musical careers, it is beneficial to contextualize when “No Church in the Wild” was written in order to more thoroughly understand its roots. The song was released in 2011- this comes fifteen years after Jay-Z’s debut studio album Reasonable Doubt first reached the masses, and seven years after West released his first studio album The College Dropout. For Ocean, “No Church in the Wild” came out in the same year he dropped his first mixtape, titled Novacane.

This means that two of the three artists had their stardom fully realized by the time “No Church in the Wild” was released. It’s very possible that by this time, Jay-Z and West had reached the “mountaintop” of the music industry, which could give way to some major reflection on not only their careers, but life. It makes sense that they would release a song with such a controversial and relevant topic at this stage in their careers because they had built up the cultural currency to speak on it.

Religion has been one of the most debated, influential, and emotional topics since the earliest recordings of history, and will continue to be moving forward. The existence of God (and the ramifications of His existence or lack thereof) is one of life’s most pervasive questions.

In 2010, Jay-Z went on a radio program to address his thoughts on religion. Jay-Z was previously under scrutiny because of rumors that he was a “devil worshiper” and involved with the secret society, the Illuminati.

“I don’t know where it started. I don’t know where it came from. I really think it’s really silly. For the record, I of course believe in God, but I believe in one God. If people must know my religious beliefs, I believe in one God. I don’t believe in religion. I don’t believe in Christians or Muslim,” the famed artist said. ” I think all that separates people. I think it’s one God. I think it’s all the same God, and I don’t believe in Hell. But as far as God, of course I believe in God. Am I a part of some sect or cult? That sounds stupid to me. It’s like ignorant to even say, and umm… I guess that’ll be the last time I address that. It’s ignorant to me.”

This quote provides incredible insight into Jay-Z’s perspective on religion. He says that he believes in one universal God, which is contrary to popular practice in which people typically select a specific religion.

In 2016, Ocean penned a heartfelt note on Tumblr in response to the infamous Orlando shooting. He wrote, “…I heard the crowds stone these fallen men if they move after they hit the ground. I heard it’s in the name of God. I heard my pastor speak for God too, quoting scripture from his book…. I wanna know what others hear, I’m scared to know but I wanna know what everyone hears when they talk to God. Do the insane hear the voice distorted? Do the indoctrinated hear another voice entirely?”

Clearly, Ocean has thought deeply about the existence of God. It’s obvious in this statement that Ocean is questioning God due to the horrific tragedy.

In recent years, West has made his renewed relationship with religion available for public consumption by delivering Sunday sermons.

In a 2019 interview with Beats 1 radio, West said, “This is such a win for the Kingdom. For Kanye to come back home, from going from ‘Jesus Walks’ to ‘I Love It’, to say to God, ‘I tried it my way, it’s not working out. Everything is in shambles. I’m ending up in debt, making this money but still ending up in debt. My public standing is in shambles. I’m not in good shape. I’m having ups and downs with my health. People calling me crazy. People not wanting to sit with me.’ I had to just give it up to God.” He also said, ““God is using me to show off,” which sounds a lot more like his public persona.

All three artists involved in the making of “No Church in the Wild” are very vocal about their thoughts on religion, as is the case in the song. It’s apparent that religion has continued to impact them as they’ve achieved fame and success.