By Jess Szabo, Arts Writer
There are those stories that “everybody” seems to know, but few, if any of those people can prove. We all heard them from a friend of a friend. Today, we probably read them on the link from a link on the internet too. Occasionally, these stories turn out to be true. Most of the time, they are false. They are known as urban legends. Many of these legends center around popular music, including Rap.
Perhaps the most famous Rap urban legend circulating in recent years says that Rap legend Jay-Z (legal name Shawn Corey Carter) and his wife, Beyonce, are members of an elite organization known as the Illuminati, a new-age/occult group that secretly runs the world.
The legend’s roots can be found in Jay-Z’s extraordinary success in his field, including financial success. According to Forbes writer Zach O’Malley-Greenburg’s June 3, 2019 article, Jay-Z is the first Hip-Hop artist to become a billionaire. He has also been nominated for a GRAMMY 80 times, and won 23 as of the 63rd Grammys, according to the website Grammy dot com. Both of these accomplishments are especially extraordinary considering that he was born in 1969, meaning he is only fifty-one years old.
People are often suspicious of extreme accomplishment, especially when that includes extreme wealth. They don’t believe anyone could work that hard to earn that much and look for other reasons why the person has what they have. This is completely justified, as extreme wealth is not earned, but built through a multitude of channels, few of which have anything to do with how hard a person works or how smart or talented they might be. However, Jay-Z’s immense material success simply means he took advantage of the same opportunities, ranging from tax cuts to the work of others to sound advice, that any other billionaire would have taken. This alone is not cited as evidence that Jay-Z is in the Illuminati.
The evidence, according to those who think they found some, is that Jay-Z often uses Illuminati symbols in his videos, and makes veiled references to the Illuminati in his lyrics. A website known as “The Vigilant Citizen” is dedicated to finding symbolism in everything, no matter how hard they have to work at it. On this site, the song, “Run This Town” is alleged to refer to being in the Illuminati and taking over the world. Jay raps about extreme wealth while the visuals of the video suggest a takeover. The song and video, which also feature Kanye West and Rhianna, further show Rhianna being handed a lit torch. This torch is alleged to be a symbol of occult enlightenment. Jay-Z has also made reference to giving someone “a grip,” which can refer to a stack of money…or a secret handshake. And of course, his Rocawear clothing line features similar symbols, including obelisks, pentagrams, pyramids, and that same triangle around the all-seeing eye.
Of course, the clincher for those who allege Jay-Z is in the Illuminati is that he, and his wife, Beyonce, regularly make a gesture that involves forming a triangle with both hands on stage. “The Vigilant Citizen” and several other sites claim this to be the ultimate Illuminati symbol, as it represents the “eye of providence,” the Illuminati’s primary symbol.
Except that it isn’t. The primary fuel behind “Illumnati” rumors of any kind is… confusion.
All of the “Illuminati symbols” found in the work of Jay-Z…and anybody else tagged with the “Illuminati” rumor… are in reality, Masonic symbols. The real Illuminati were nothing more than a men’s group formed in Bavaria in the late 1700’s and faded from history.
The Masons, also a men’s group, still exist, and some of their symbols and practices are considered quite strange. But the Masons are nothing more than a large fraternity with chapters all around the world….and pretty much all fraternities and sororities adopt weird, secret rituals at some point. Networking may indeed happen inside Masonic lodges, but they’re no more likely to take over the world than the students at the frat and sorority houses at one of the campuses of the state university of New York.
The presence of Masonic symbolism could indicate that Jay-Z is in fact a Mason, though he has denied it in the press, and there would be no need for Jay-Z to deny membership in the Masons if he were in fact a member. Masons are not required to keep their membership completely secret. They are allowed to display Masonic symbols on jewelry, vehicles, and clothing, answer ‘yes’ when asked if they are a Mason, and answer general questions about the Masons. They are just not allowed to reveal what goes on at meetings, share any Masonic secret knowledge, or talk about their membership in detail to outsiders…
It is far more likely that Jay-Z is simply fascinated by the symbolism and speculation about the Masons, and that, as a shrewd businessman, he knows their use can generate a lot of publicity with very little effort.
Jess Szabo is an arts writer, novelist, and writing teacher from Utica. See more of her writing for and about local artists at www.artistcafeutica.com