In 1776, a group of Bavarian intellectual elites dedicated to science and rational thought started a secret society. They were a subsect of the much more well-established Freemasons' guild, and they despised the superstitious, the occult and the narrow-mindedness of the clergy. Some of the more radical members of the society were accused of plotting to overthrow kings and the Catholic Church, which led to the secret society's suppression and ultimate dissolution in 1785.
Two centuries later, they reappeared to manufacture the elevator fight between Solange and Jay Z. It wasn't their first appearance in the rapper's life. A year ago, on an album released on cellphones (a technology even the most elite Bavarians weren't exploring in the 18th century), Jay Z rapped "Conspiracy theorist screaming Illuminati / They can't believe this much skill is in the human body." In the song, he responded to the conspiracy theory that he — and most successful rappers — have been brought to power by the group.
"Who said a black man in the Illuminati? / Last time I checked, that was the biggest racist party" - Kendrick Lamar, "HiiiPower"
Jay Z isn't the first to react to the theory in rap. Since 1990, mentions of the Illuminati have skyrocketed in rap music. That's because everyone thinks this tiny Bavarian cult is using black rappers to control the world. And it isn't just crazy — it's racist.
In the years between the signing of the Declaration of Independence and the dropping of Magna Carta Holy Grail, the Illuminati have apparently been very busy, despite there being approximately no evidence to support this claim.
The Illuminati have allegedly been directing the course of world history for years. They've been accused of sparking the French Revolution, promoting the rise of Communism and assassinating presidents and cultural figures. Some believe they have close alliances with the Obama administration, the Vatican and a race of extraterrestrial lizard people called reptoids. The Illuminati also worship Satan now. In fact, one of the reasons the Illuminati are constantly killing our celebrities (like Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Aaliyah) is to carry out sacrifices to keep Satan's favor.
Makes sense, right?
Now, hip-hop is important to the Illuminati because their ultimate goal is to unify all the powers of the world into a single totalitarian police state referred to as the New World Order. By controlling rappers like Jay, A$AP Rocky and Pusha-T, they can spread their Satanic ideals of violence and materialism globally. They encourage listeners to buy cars, clothes and other material goods (really, what else is rap music about?) in order to degrade the moral structure of America and distract the populace while the Satanic cult hastens the dawn of the New World Order.
It turns out that one of the most popular and confusing conspiracy theories going actually has a very simple message: Hip-hop is the devil's music, it's destroying our society and black people are only successful when old, dead white people make them successful. Somehow it's too much of a stretch to believe that rappers make music about cars, jewels and gangster stories because consumers find these stories entertaining and inspiring.
Granted, there's something funny about this. Nearly every comment thread on any hip-hop related portion of the Internet has trolls crying "Illuminati" just for kicks. That doesn't change the fact, though, that the idea of a successful black person is so difficult for our culture to understand that we collectively reanimated a small group of 18th-century devil-worshipping, hip-hopping white people with mind-control powers to explain it.
The more successful the artist, the more conspiracy he invites. Internet intellectuals analyze Jay Z's music videos for Illuminati symbology and his albums for hidden Illuminati messages. He fires back on "Free Mason": "Bitch, I said I was amazing, not that I'm a Mason / It's amazing, that I made it through the maze that I was in."
Jay Z deserves the credit for his success. His determination and ingenuity got him where he is today. Not some racist cultists.
It sounds crazy, and it is. But the prevalence and popularity of the Illuminati conspiracy theory reveals a much realer problem with America than any old cult. Kanye West is often mocked for being a conspiracy theorist, but he sees the truth in the Illuminati theory better than anyone. On "New Slaves," he raps:
"See they'll confuse us with some bullshit / Like the New World Order / Meanwhile the DEA / Teamed up with the CCA / They tryna lock niggas up / They tryna make new slaves / See that's that privately owned prisons"
The Illuminati accusations are only a distraction from the truth. Racism exists, and it does more damage in American culture as any Bavarian pact with the Devil could.