Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"No Church in the Wild"

Months after Watch the Throne dropped, I admit I'm still hooked. When I put the album on, I listen straight through (only skipping the paltry "Lift Off"). A big part of the album's success is the fatalism Kanye and Jay craft. While much adieu was made about the wealth talk, death is just around the corner on this LP and few tracks are more haunted by the Reaper than opener "No Church in the Wild."

Riding a still hypnotic guitar-figure, the serene voice of Frank Ocean asks increasingly somber questions. “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 believe in anything?” The answer in all cases a sobering "nothing" establishing a world where those on top have fleeting power, their castles becoming houses of cards that could collapse at any moment. Given the timing of the album's initial release, as the Occupy Wall Street Movement was taking off, the track's sentiment is a perfect distillation of the 99% versus 1% mentality. This rebellious spirit is embodied in the video, which sees a mob take to the streets and confront a vicious police squad. Molotovs are thrown, people beaten, cars overturned, and in an uneasy conclusion fireworks fill the night sky. The video ends with a note of uncertainty as the rebels charge toward the ominous palace. While their fate is unknown, the message is clear, "the throne is for the taking." 

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