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The Illuminati - it's so last year, darling

By Shaun Shearer | 29 October 2015

References to 'The Illuminati' have become commonplace in mainstream hip-hop lyrics, to the point that they have eclipsed the frequent references to legendary gangster characters like Scarface and Don Corleone as a way of courting controversy. There is almost a cachet of 'cool' that has come to be associated with the idea of a mysterious powerful cabal, with rappers dropping hints that they are a part of this elite group. Chat forums and Youtube threads are alight with claims from fans that such-and-such an artist has sold their soul and is 'in the Illuminati'. (And of course, for every such comment, there's another blasting the poster as a 'retard' or a 'fuckwit', and denying that any such group exists.) It is all starting to wear a bit thin, though. Even globally-controlling dark occult secret societies come with their sell-by dates.

The truth is that, first of all, 'The Illuminati' is a much-misunderstood phrase, in its broadest sense standing as a catch-all term for the networks of secret societies that control human activity from the top down. It's doubtful that a singular organisation by that name is in current existence. Secondly, the elite class to which it refers, reserve membership only for those of certain selected bloodlines, or for deeply trusted associates who have shown themselves to be unquestionably down with the agenda. The idea that they would accept into these ranks former street hustlers and heroin pushers who have sold their soul as a way of escaping their ghetto lifestyle, is laughable. These individuals aren't 'in The Illuminati', they're merely the rank-and-file foot soldiers doing its dirty work, (although it is rumoured that Jay-Z has joined the ranks of The Boule, an elite secret society with membership restricted solely to black people.) It's more likely that the elite controllers harbour nothing but scathing contempt towards those prepared to degrade their morals in exchange for a quick fix of fame and fortune. Either way, the fashionability of 'The Illuminati' has been gradually drip-fed to the current generation of music fans.

One of the earliest references came from Mobb Deep frontman Prodigy, in his guest verse for LL Cool J's 'I Shot Ya' remix in 1995, where he states: "Illuminati want my mind soul and my body, secret societies trying to keep they eye on me.” Later, on the song 'Skull & Bones', he proclaimed "I shine, illuminate, yeah my aura is awesome. Illuminati is us, we are the origin." In the same year on 'Been There, Done That', Dr. Dre stated: "Money is the root, I want the whole damn tree. Ain’t tryna stick around for Illuminati. Got to buy my own island by the year 2G."

More recently, on 'Holy Ghost', (featuring P Diddy/ Puff Daddy, appropriately enough,) Rick Ross rhymes: "They say I’m gettin’ money, must be Illuminati, Talking to the Holy Ghost, in my Bugatti." Fellow Maybach Music artist Meek Mill preferred rhyming 'Ferrari' than 'Bugatti', meanwhile, on 'Dreamchasers': "I’m getting money, must be Illuminati. They think I signed up cause I just bought a new Ferrari." He then managed to slip in a reference to a Maseratti on 'Fender Up': "Illuminati wanted my mind, soul, and body. They asked me would I trade it for all for a Maseretti."

On 'Hiipower', Kendrick Lamar offers: "Who said a black man in the Illuminati?  Last time I checked that was the biggest racist party." Fellow new-generation rapper J Cole went all out on 'Villuminati' from his 2013 album: "These next three bars is dedicated to the retards, keep on asking me about the Illuminati. Is you stupid, nigga? Young black millionaire, old white billionaires. I'm sure that they can do without me. And I ain't really into sacrificing human bodies."

Nas, strongly rumoured to be a high-ranking, blurred clarity somewhat with a line on his verse for the DJ Khaled track 'Hip Hop', which personifies the hip-hop artform as a woman. Seemingly stating that suggestions of an Illuminati plot within hip-hop were ill-founded, he states: "Confused fans think that she illuminates demonic." Either way, Nas certainly seemed to be communicating the agenda when he titled his 2006 album 'Hip Hop Is Dead.' By that point it had been cold in the ground for quite a few years, and Nas would be one to know.

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