If you’re a rapper in 2018 and haven’t been accused of being in the Illuminati, then are you really even a rapper at all?
The secret society’s place in hip-hop culture, and hip-hop’s obsession with it, can be traced all the way back to 1995, when Prodigy of Mobb Deep dropped this line on the remix to LL Cool J’s “I Shot Ya”:
“Illuminati want my mind, soul and my body/ Secret society, trying to keep they eye on me/ But I’ma stay incogni’, in places they can’t find me.”
It was the first time the organization was mentioned on a hip-hop track, and the rest, as they say, is history. Hip-hop has always articulated the struggles of everyday life, as well as the grind to make it out of certain situations and counteract the oppressive systems in currently in place. The coy mention of a secret society, then, one that exists to manipulate society and determine what (and who) can be successful, speaks to these ideas.
But as the Illuminati began receiving mentions on wax, rappers also began facing accusations of being apart of the so-called New World Order themselves as we moved into the 21st century. “Eminem is sacrificing his career for the Illuminati,” one super creepy video asserts. “Tupac faked his death to escape the grasp of the Illuminati,” others proposed.
As hip-hop spoke of their fears of the secret society in the ‘90s, the dawn of the Internet and the digital age completely intensified the narrative. Now fans with a taste for conspiracies and a keen eye began concocting a new theory: Rappers were no longer skeptical of the Illuminati. They were full on members. YouTube videos breaking down Illuminati symbolism in music videos began to pop up. Anything a rapper wore was scoured for secret messages referencing the Illuminati, and any inadvertent hand signal was interpreted as a gesture toward their all-powerful masters.
As most conspiracy theories go, this one doesn’t exactly have a solid foundation—but that doesn’t stop people from believing in it. These are all of the rappers accused of being in the Illuminati. Sleep one eye up.