Conspiracy theories; scapegoats; boogeymen – every era has them.
Just so happens that present day pop culture in general, and the hip hop community specifically, has ‘the Illuminati’ as its unhealthy fixation.
This was always a source of amusement for me – If I happened to find myself in a convo where the Illuminati became the topic, I’d entertain it a little without really speaking my mind. However, recently, my wife happened to mention that she believed the Illuminati was out there, too.
She, like many other educated folk, believes that the Illuminati is a secret, satanic group who run the world. They, are therefore (obviously) responsible for the evils of society, in particular,. the debauchery of the record industry.
I couldn’t resist, I had to pick apart her belief. I pressed wifey to reveal what was behind her conviction, and it quickly became clear that her knowledge of the Illuminati had been informed by hearsay.
But, this willingness to believe the hype represents more than Chinese whispers; it’s a combination of multiple factors.
No doubt there are people out there, in the shadows, who conspire to commit and hide their despicable schemes.
If only this were acknowledged in moderation. Instead, what we have is a tiresome situation where anything that has the whiff of ‘undeserved’ success, immorality or esoteric symbolism is instinctively linked to that devilish gang: Illuminati.
The willingness to blame bad things on a conspiracy is part of the human condition; it happens in every era, and the fact that our generation blames the Illuminati, is an echo of a bygone period.
There is a documented, historical Illuminati, and if you’re inclined to, you could probably tie yourself in knots reading about their relatively minuscule exploits. In short, they were ‘free thinkers’ in an age where a powerful, oppressive Church and it’s dogma beat down the advance of scientific inquiry.
This is not to say that there is no possibility that there may have been ‘questionable people’ who identified themselves as Illuminati. But to use this as a basis for a present day conspiracy is a stretch that Armstrong would be proud of.
As a young’n I brought Tupac’s the don killuminati.
I, too, got it twisted; Tupac was stating his intent to bring down the secret society – or so we thought. It wasn’t until over a decade later I heard one of his last interviews where he elaborated on the meaning behind the title. Tupac recognized that people’s willingness to believe in the Illuminati myth was just another manifestation of the ‘victim-hood mentality’ that poisons the mind of so many. He wanted to ‘kill’ the belief in the Illuminati myth because he saw it as detriment to self-esteem.
Put simply, it’s easier to blame some omnipresent, powerful force for society’s shortcomings – for your own shortcomings, rather than man up and accept a portion of responsibility for that thing you blame on others.
Immortal technique articulated it in a way that is right on the money. If you want to know who, more often than not, is at the heart of things, pulling strings; you need not look further than a corporation.
Wifey listened as I regurgitated Immortal Techniques jewels, and then she caught me off guard with her response: “the Illuminati could be the ones at the top of the corporation!”
For the sake of courteous argument, I said this could be true, but, why is it important that we call them Illuminati – why the obsession with a defunct, now mythical group.
“We have to call them something”… and I had to bite the bullet; she was made a good point. Whether I object to the given name or not, powerful groups do exist; they push an agenda that puts money over everything (slight exaggeration), and they strive to increase their positions of power.
Where me and wifey diverge on our common ground though, is the religious connotations that tend to follow Illuminati chatter like a bad smell. My Christian friends are the same; Illuminati means something much more insidious to them – Illuminati are Satan’s henchman.
Their pawns are the Jay z’s, 2 Chainz and Rihanna’s of the music industry; basically, anyone whose (im)morality runs contrary to their Christian values.
It can be said that this type of finger-pointing and over-analyzing is the manifestation of a person own anxieties. Or to approach it from another angle, the virtuous need (perceived) bad guys to wag they’re finger at; just like Batman needs The Joker.
I would humbly say, the best place for all this Illuminati hogwash is with a heavy pinch of salt within fiction. We had a half-decent book from Dan Brown (horrible movie though) that toyed with the Illuminati legend – and Marvel put an interesting twist on it in The New Avengers.
I don’t expect that my wife, or the many other conspiracy theorists will change their mind any time soon; but, at least we have some fictional silver lining to this enduring cloud.