Why do musicians like Jay Z spread beliefs in global conspiracy the Illuminati in their music?
—Traceless T., via Facebook
You speak of the ongoing accusations against Mr. Z, as well as Oprah, Nicki Minaj and many others, that they belong to centuries-old secret society aimed at world takeover. Rappers are constantly addressing this chestnut. Just recently, Waka Flocka Flame was forced to stick up for Minaj, calling such allegations "bulls--t."
But let's not let that stop us from bringing Jay-Z into this:
Depending on whom you ask, The Illuminati are either (a) a defunct group of free thinkers from 18th century Bavaria or (b) a stealthy cabal of cultural elites with obscene wealth who are controlling the fate of the planet right this very second.
Follow so far? Of course you do.
As far as Jay-Z and other rappers go, conspiracy theories linking such musicians to the Illuminati—and another paranoiac fave, the Masons—have raged for years.
"The evidence is everywhere, hidden in plain sight," Philadelphia Weekly noted dryly more than a year ago. "It's in his videos. It's in his lyrics. It's in the pyramid-shaped sign he makes with his hand, which you foolishly believe represents his Rocafella/Roc Nation labels."
In fact, the Weekly notes, the Illuminati-music conspiracy theory does not end with Mr. Carter.
"The rumor-mongering has ramped up so aggressively, it's spilled over into those around Jay: Kanye (check the symbolism in his 'Power' video and 30-minute movie 'Runaway'); Rihanna (her video for 'Rude Boy' is steeped in Masonic imagery); Beyoncé (whose videos and costumes for alter-ego Sasha Fierce is ripe with Illuminati symbolism).
"Even Willow Smith, daughter of Will and Jada, is not immune. She was signed by Jay-Z to Roc Nation so, naturally, she's part of the Illuminati too."
But why rappers? Well, to put it simply, there is a nexus between African-Americans, power and paranoia that has simmered for generations. This is the latest iteration.
"Black culture in general has always had pervasive conspiracy theories," Marc Lamont Hill, professor at Columbia University told the Weekly. "There have always been questions and conspiracies about the structure and nature of power by African-Americans, and naturally those questions have made their way into hip-hop."
But why this particular conspiracy theory?
There are so many flavors of paranoia that you've gotta wonder why we have a specific complex marrying musicians (and Oprah!) to the Illuminati.
Well, I have that answer, too.
According to The World's Greatest Conspiracies, pretty much the Bible of side-eye, I give you this quote:
"Stories about the Illuminati refuse to go away...[The] Illuminati have become the all-purpose conspiracy; the theory that explains everything and always applies."