“Kanye can’t keep his private parts offline for mass consumption, so I have a hard time imagining them having the same organization structure as the Bilderberg Group.” says Smith, who has worked with hip-hop artists half his life.
“If we’re talking about real back-door deals, real conglomerations of power, none of these rappers have enough money to be apart of it,” Marc Lamont Hill says. “It’s not even plausible from a race perspective, from an economic perspective, that’s just not who rappers are.”
I think the main issue here is that people, including myself, believe everything they read. People take things that are merely speculation as fact and trust as truth, boldly-purported rumours. Add this to the marginalised view black people tend to have of themselves and the attachment to religion a society who grew up in church cling to, and you get an over-popularised conspiracy theory on how a black person from humble beginnings could rise to heights a lot of us could only dream of. But maybe that says more about our limited faith in the ambition and ability of a people and our own inability to accept the expressive nature of hip-hop than it does about any secret society that may or may not exist in the United States.
The Bavarian Illuminati was founded by Jesuit-educated Adam Weishaupt as a secret society on May 1, 1776. Their aims were to oppose withcraft and the widespread religious influence of the Roman Catholic church over public life and also to promote gender equality. It ran and accumulated around 1000 members, most of notable position in society, until its official dissolution by the Bavarian government in 1785. There is no evidence that this secret society survived its founders or continued on after its dissolution.
Around 1797, books including ‘Proofs of a Conspiracy’ were published linking Illuminati survivors to the French Revolution. They made their way to the United States (where all outlandish claims find a home) where a few well-known Pastors and Reverends gave sermons, also printed in the newspaper, against this supposed Illuminati group. Today, several fraternal organizations have used the name ‘Illuminati’ in their title, although there is no evidence that they are linked to the Bavarian Illuminati or that they hold any political power or influence.
How an 18th century exclusive fraternal organisation, consisting of politically influential members of society made its way into the hearts and minds of 21st century hip-hop fans is a wonder to me but references to a secret society, the ‘Illuminati’ and ‘Freemasons’ have been made as early as 1995 when Wu-tang Clan talked about the Freemason’s plan for a New World Order in the June/July Issue of The Vibe:
“Raekwon: Right now, we’re preparing for the Illuminati 2000, which is the Masons’ plan for New World Order.We got a videotape of these m****f***s droppin’ all types of s*** about how they plan to run s*** in the year 2000 and better.”
The ignorance and unsubstantiated anger behind these Illuminati claims can be tackled on both on a racial and religious level.
Racially, black people have always been paranoid and held closely to conspiracy theories to explain things they couldn’t themselves fathom. Marc Lamont Hill, professor at Columbia University explains that “In the 1980s people thought the ‘K’ on the Snapple bottle represented Ku Klux Klan or that Church’s Chicken was sterilizing black people”. Maybe its due to the oppressive history of the black nation in America or the nature of the hoods and ghettos (or even the superstitious African nations) a lot of us grew up in, but without realising it, we are predisposed to believing an exclusive conspiracy theory over logical fact and explanation.
One of these notions that, sadly, a lot of us find hard to believe is that even in this somewhat racially enlightened era that we live in, a black person, especially one from backgrounds similar to ours, can climb so high in the ranks, especially through a medium such as hip-hop; that he/she can be dining with presidents and dealing with billionaires. As explained in the picture to the left, black people find it so difficult to comprehend that one of us can become this successful that the only way we can wrap our heads around it is to believe that it must be due to an affiliation to a secret society that the rest of us don’t have access to.
Religiously, a lot of people grew up in churches and although their lifestyle today may not reflect a biblical world-view, there is still a right-wing christian side that lives on in a lot of us. Rapper Kweli says it best in an interview with hiphopnews24-7.com “Too much of the fear of it is steeped in religious dogma. A lot of those books are written by right-wing Christian organizations because they don’t like how religion is portrayed in secular society. And they don’t like seeing symbolism that’s used from ancient times, from pagan times, and the word pagan just means no religion, and they get offended by that”
Yes a lot of symbolism is used in hip hop videos and even in names of labels and businesses. Yes they make references to ancient pagan groups. Yes they may even talk about it in their music. But have you ever thought that maybe this is a publicity stunt? That they know that as soon as right winged ‘anti-illuminati’es see it, they will rush and play the video/listen to the track? Or more so, (God forbid and all, but lets just imagine), that these people, free to express themselves through their art, are not Christians, and are simply questioning, as many do, the lessons that they grew up learning in the church, as they look out at a broken world. Maybe, just maybe, they aren’t satan worshippers. Maybe they’re just agnostics searching for God in a fallen world and looking to sources other than church for the truth.
If the latter is the case, I urge you to pray, not persecute. And have faith in your God, to whom Satan is a mere footnote. As 1 John 4:4 reminds us ‘Greater is he that is in you than he who is in the world’.
There is so much more to say on this subject but for now, I hope you have gathered the general gist of this article: Choose what you believe in. Believe that a black man can reach unthinkable heights solely through hard work, intelligence and determination and in doing so, be inspired. Believe that art is free to search, to explore and to disagree with truths that you may hold dear without having to sell their soul to another truth. Believe that God is more powerful than any demonic entity and that no control over your minds or your life can be established without him first allowing it. And DON’T believe every trash-talking, paranoid and insecure armchair blogger that has access to a keyboard and the internet.
So, what now? What do you believe?
Thoughts, comments and questions welcome