Jay-Z, Nas and the Illuminati

An argument broke out yesterday down at LIVE Magazine, the youth-run website, magazine and Youtube channel where I work as editorial mentor. It all started because someone said that they couldn’t even look at Rihanna because of her ‘illuminati ways’ and before we knew it a 45-minute debate broke out across the banks of Macs.

Jay-Z wears illuminati clothes. He knows what he’s doing. He’s controlling the youth – he’s a big man, how could he not know what he’s doing? The illuminati run everything. They run politics and banks. Everything is organised, nothing happens by chance, and devil-worshipping illuminati are controlling hip hop in order to control the youth. Frank Ocean denying its existence only makes him more guilty. The only exception, it seems, is Nas – and if I told you why I’d have to kill you.

This is a discussion that comes up at least once a month and it’s done so for pretty much the entire five years I’ve been involved with LIVE. It’s perennial and perennially depressing because conspiracy theories alienate young people from democracy. What’s the point in voting when the illuminati really run everything?

There’s also a shadow of anti-semitism that runs through all illuminati rumours. I was reminded of how wrong these things can go (as if you need any reminding, with Bosnia, Rwanda, Syria and a terrifying ramp of examples of ethnic massacres) by that lovely long-haired Scottish man who does TV history shows and looks like that bloke that used to be Robin Hood in the ‘90s. He talked about Viking incursions into Britain a thousand years ago – and how in retaliation, King Ethelred ordered the slaughter of all Danes living in the country. These were just normal people. Danes who’d been living in England for generations. They weren’t Vikings, they weren’t a threat, they weren’t running anything or trying to control the population. They were Danes… actually, they probably thought of themselves as English, with Danish forefathers, and they’d been brutally cut down whilst running away, with the sword marks visible on their bones and skulls a thousand years later. Hatred, and in the worst cases, death is what really waits at the logical conclusion of the illuminati idea.

The world is way too complex for over-arching conspiracy theories to be true, although that doesn’t negate the reality of powerful people manipulating crises, currency and communities for their own personal profit. That’s not a conspiracy – that’s abuse of power.

Conspiracy theories are widely circulated through Youtube films that review film, music and even the Olympic opening ceremony through an illuminati prism. This is no longer just the domain of people who spend their evenings stuffing their lungs full of high-grade skunk. Ten years ago, as my twitter friend Tramshed3000 pointed out, only Wu Tang fans and arcane book geeks were into conspiracies. So why now? Conspiracies are a comforting blanket when faced with real disempowerment, unemployment, widespread anti-youth messages in the media, racism and a serious lack of autonomy – no-one asking people what they want for their schools or their jobs or their lives. I’m with Bonnie Greer, who made a speech entitled ‘yet the young lead’: maybe then conspiracy theories would dissolve back to the edges rather than the bizarrely central position they currently occupy.

Now, honestly, can someone explain why Nas isn’t illuminati? And ‘because he doesn’t worship Satan’ doesn’t count…

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