“No Church in the Wild” by Jay-Z and Kanye West is one of those shining moments of artistic expression and stellar videography in commercial hip-hop.
The video opens with a single protester hurling a Molotov cocktail at an eager line of police. That spark ignites the enraged mob behind him, and the fire spreads. A battle royal between rioting protesters and the law ensues.
The scenes look ripped from the headlines and recall images from Greece, England and the Middle East from the last year. Windows are smashed. Mobs of citizens seem to lose their minds. Armed government squads go to war against their own people.
Beyond the familiar scenes of protest, frustration, outrage and chaos, there is a deeper meaning, a larger battle between the people’s unbridled passions and the status quo that tries to constrain them.
When viewed in context with the song’s lyrics, it delivers the message that in the wild or in moments of chaos there is no morality or salvation, just the savagery of human nature.
By Erin Carson