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?
A subversion of the Christian concept of the Great Chain of Being, a strict hierarchical categorization of all life and matter with God at the very top and kings above all other humans.
All of the things discussed on the hook lose significance compared to another:
- A mob vs. A king = No competition. The king has power over his subjects
- A king vs. A God = No competition. Most kings in the western hemisphere were on the throne by virtue of what was called the divine right of kings, which supports the argumentation of a God being more powerful than a king.
- A God vs. a non-believer = No competition? By not believing, the non-believer has arguably trounced God, as his or her life is in no way governed by religion or other earthly manifestations of God’s supposed will/laws/whatevs. Not only is the non-believer not ruled by God, to him or her God doesn’t even exist.
This brings us, the listeners, back full circle to the single human mentioned at the beginning of the hook.
It is telling that these lines open Watch the Throne, an album that is very concerned with power, something both Jay-Z and Kanye have explicitly discussed in their previous work (most obviously on Kanye’s Power).
As their other work suggests, power doesn’t only flow in one direction. While a king may generally be able to subdue, destroy, or disperse a mob, there are obvious exceptions. This lyric could also be seen as Frank saying that although Jay-Z and Kanye have great power, they are still not at the top.
While this line does refer to the relative power of men, kings, and gods, the more subtle message implied by the line is that power derives from belief. The humans in the mob are only less powerful than the king because they believe that they are less powerful.
The same is true with the other two comparisons. Most people’s notions of power grow out of faith traditions and political systems like The Great Chain of Being. These systems thrive as long as people continue to believe. So, if one believes in the Great Chain he has as much power as that system allows. If he chooses to think differently, his notions of his own power (and God’s) change.
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