Conspiracy theories are nothing new. They range in subject matter, from religion to science to entertainment. While I am not a conspiracy theorist (at all. Please allow me to REALLY emphasize that I believe in science and think the Earth is round and climate change is real and have absolutely no merit in any other conspiracies beyond this scope), it has a strong presence in Hip-Hop. Some prominent artists have been accused of being in the Illuminati while others have allegedly faked their deaths. Some of the ideas aren’t quite as crazy as they may seem; for instance, it adds up that a culture built on anti-elitism would distrust politicians and the media. The skepticism makes sense; systematic racism has plagued our society and lower-income neighborhoods for decades. Some of these theories explore just how far the government will go to prevent these areas from thriving, and they aren’t the most unbelievable. But others encroach on some bizarre territory, including Satanism. As of right now, Lil Nas X is the newest artist to be worshipping the Devil, but I think that’s just the homophobia talking. Christians everywhere have classified Hip-Hop as evil for decades. So why not have fun with it and bring these exaggerated characters to life? No matter what motivated the lyrics, they don’t always need to be taken literally. With that being said, while some sound intellectual and wordy upon first listen, quite a lot of them do require a second take. So here are some bizarre lyrics that touch on some popular (and some lesser-known) conspiracy theories. I have excluded those about Coronavirus being fake since that shit is tired and played out. And as always, this is solely based on my opinion. Please don’t read into it.
Being anti-government is not reserved for conspiracy theorists. It’s a reoccurring theme we witness in Hip-Hop. But for some, the lack of trust doesn’t end there. One of the most prevalent speculations is that the government has been working to destroy Hip-Hop. There are a few different variants of this theory, including the government actually creating the sub-genre of gangster rap to encourage violence and blame it on rappers. Realistically, to suggest that the government wouldn’t want Hip-Hop to exist isn’t a completely far-fetched idea. As I’ve talked about before, Hip-Hop was created to be a counter-culture. It was designed to challenge issues that the country was facing, specifically for Black people. Some of those issues include systematic racism, police brutality, and poverty. There’s a slew of artists who are willing to speak out against the government, and their level of influence isn’t to be underestimated. So what happens when this anti-elitist mentality becomes too powerful and even starts affecting how the country is run? In fact, to gain popularity, several politicians have required the assistance of rappers to enact change and gain brownie points. In KRS-One and DJ Mugg’s “Move Ahead,” they raise awareness around the dwindling intelligence happening among rappers while arguing that the government is using it to create division. They initially argue that “Hip-Hop belongs to [them], the East created it, the West decorated it.” But, they quickly counteract that statement with the thought that “when Black expression heights itself, it becomes Black digression leadin’ to depression in health.” They take this idea even further by asking, “if Hip-Hop was destroyed could we blame the CIA or the FBI? You’d be a motherfuckin’ lie-er, li-are, pants on fire-er, conspiracy theories are contrise or we keep them on the shelf, we got no one to believe but ourselves.” While they ultimately choose to take responsibility, I visualize an evil puppeteer planting the seeds of chaos and watching it unfold.
In Kendrick Lamar’s “HiiiPoWeR,” Kendrick dissects the power of the government and the role they may play in his demise. He raps that he “[wants] everybody to view [his] autopsy so [they] can see exactly where the government had shot [him],” similarly to how some claim that the government had a part in the killing of JFK and even potentially Tupac. Kendrick further develops the line by rapping that there is “no conspiracy/[because his] fate is inevitable,” manifesting his death in a way that resembles how Tupac predicted his own. He then references Lauryn Hill’s downfall, exclaiming that the government plays “musical chairs once [they’re] on that pedestal/[it’s] the reason Lauryn Hill don’t sing.” After Lauryn got in trouble for tax evasion, one of the issues she mentioned that she faced with fame was how those who had a hold on the music industry, such as record labels, used artists to promote unhealthy behaviors like violence so that their impressionable audiences would follow suit. Ultimately, Kendrick believes that the same is expected of him, driving him to be silenced, potentially by death.
In Outkast’s “Mighty O,” the duo discusses the idea that the government supplies drugs to drug dealers, especially in lower-income areas, leading ultimately to the crack epidemic that occurred in the ’80s. If true, then this ruined not only the lives of the dealers who were given an easy method of making money but the lives of those that got addicted as well. It created an illegal, never-ending cycle of supply and demand that flooded these neighborhoods, increasing drug use, incarceration rates, and poverty. In the song, Big Boi raps about how “crack cocaine [was] distributed to the poor, by the government, oh I meant, don’t nobody know. Conspiracy theory, you be the judge, nobody’s slow.” While some may be naive enough to think that the government only has the people’s best interest in mind, Big Boi sees right through it. Scarface puts his story-telling skills to good use as he creates a similar narrative in his track, “Conspiracy Theory.” He details how a dangerous, murderous drug dealer made ridiculous amounts of money off his trade. Even as he tried to get his life together, he was shown how much more profitable drug dealing would be, opting for a dangerous path instead while even trying to recruit others. The biggest plot twist concludes that he was working with the feds the whole time, bringing others down with him by ratting them out despite being the one to get them involved in the first place.
The Illuminati has been widely debated in Hip-Hop for years. Prodigy of Mobb Deep was known for his outspoken thoughts on the Illuminati, so it’s no surprise that he was one of the earliest artists to write lyrics about it. In a remix to LL Cool J’s “I Shot Ya,” Prodigy rapped, “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, make my moves strategically, the G.O.D.” The lyrics, which convey the fear that Prodigy felt towards the group, were inspired by the book, Behold a Pale Horse, where Milton William Cooper wrote about numerous conspiracy theories, including those around the Illuminati. Unfortunately, Prodigy’s legacy was treated with less respect than it deserved as people spread rumors about the Illuminati killing him when in actuality, he was suffering from sickle-cell anemia. That lyric, however, continued to get utilized throughout Hip-Hop. He used it as the hook for another song, “Illuminati,” in which Prodigy attempted to rally up the masses to band together against the organization. He also defended the criticism he received, declaring, “but let me break it down, pass it all around. This is not a theory, lift the spirits, see his spirit. They wanna put me in a straight jacket in a padded room, and tell the world there’s 12 monkeys so they can be confused.” Ironically, Jay-Z also sampled that lyric in his song “D’Evils.” Jay rapped about how money essentially is the root of all evil, causing most of the violence amongst impoverished neighborhoods. Quite hilarious how he became one of the wealthiest moguls and alleged leading members of the Illuminati, especially because Prodigy actually backed up those claims in a letter he wrote from prison. The paranoia only continued to spread as groups such as Wu-Tang Clan and Goodie Mob contributed lyrics about the secret organization. In “Cell Theory,” CeeLo Green expressed his concerns when he said that “Sega ain’t in this new world order, dem experimenting in Atlanta, Georgia. United Nations, overseas they trained assassins, to do search and seize ain’t knocking or asking. Dem coming for n***** like me, po’ white trash like they, tricks like her back in slavery.” This set of lyrics is extremely interesting because it shares the idea that the Illuminati is primarily a white organization. This theory has been made mainstream in songs such as Kanye West’s “The Morning,” but also contradicts the idea that some of these Hip-Hop moguls are a part of it because of their complexion.
I feel like I need a whole post just on this section because the theories are endless, so I’ll try to compress it a bit (seeing as we haven’t even gotten to B.O.B.’s portion yet). Of course, some people surmise that Tupac is still alive. But, others question who was actually behind his death if he was, in fact, killed. While reports indicate that the incident was gang-related, with Tupac gunned down by a group of Crips, some are unsatisfied with that answer. In Rick Ross’s “Mafia Music III,” Ross raps, “five shots to the stomach, Tupac gift pack. It’s Death Row, conspiracy theorists.” While Rick Ross is obviously alluding to the five shots Tupac sustained, he also references Death Row Records, the label Tupac was signed to. One popular theory is that Suge Knight, the label owner of Death Row, was actually responsible for killing Tupac, especially as Tupac was riding in the car with him. Some even argue that Suge Knight was responsible for the death of Biggie and Eazy-E, claiming that he injected Eazy-E with AIDS, an assumption that even Eazy E’s son believes. In The Game’s “Last Time You Seen,” the rapper, along with the help of Scarface, offers another notion. They suggest that the LAPD, specifically the Rampart Division, were responsible for shooting Tupac, potentially by the orders of Suge. He raps that the “LAPD/[were] worse than the Nazis,” particularly because that specific division had just gotten in trouble for misconduct. The Game and Nas also echo this idea in “The Ghetto,” when they rap, “happened to/Tupac in that passenger’s seat/cops killing n* dead in the streets.”
Apparently, Satanism is on the rise, but honestly, if we get more songs like “MONTERO (Call Me By Your Name),” I won’t be mad at it. One of the most hilarious aspects of this post, for me personally, is that people think Tech N9ne is a devil worshipper. That is hilarious, but I could see it. Frankly, I wouldn’t be surprised if he wrote that theory himself. Nonetheless, Tech N9ne addresses the rumors in his song, “Devil Boy.” He ponders the questions, “who the hell is Satan? And why I gotta be him? I ain’t worshipped Nathan, so why you gotta see him,” wondering what exactly made people view him the way that they do. He addresses the album cover art that fueled these rumors, as well as some of his questionable listeners, but continues to reiterate that people were reading too far into things, ultimately mislabeling him. You can tell it really bothers him because he brings it up yet again in his song, “We’re Not Sorry.” In the track, Tech N9ne reinforces his frustration by expressing that he came from religious upbringings, and yet everything he does becomes a conspiracy theory. He expresses that he “ain’t no Illuminati,” and that he will do whatever he needs to keep his family safe from the rumors and danger. Although, I do get sort of cult-ish vibes from the chorus. I think if I were overly brainwashed and religious, he would be an easy rapper to attack. But that’s just me playing Devil’s Advocate. Get it? 😉
More widely known, however, is the idea that Three 6 Mafia was a group of devil worshippers. The group, whose name derives from 666, caused quite the controversy with their song, “Stay Fly.” The song, which samples Willie Hutch’s “Tell Me Why Our Love Turned Cold,” is accused of altering the lyrics to say, Lucifer, you’re my king, you’re my father.” But would it really be that absurd if they did that? It sounds pretty on-brand to me. Others claim that if you listen to the song backward, it will conjure the Devil. Now that sounds like a bit of a stretch. Will it be the same devil from “Montero?” I ultimately like to think this song is just a good old-fashioned ode to smoking a doobie. Although that is the devil’s lettuce. I think I’m starting to spiral.
Who Needs Science When You Have B.O.B.?
If there’s anyone to keep me grounded throughout all of this insanity, it’s B.O.B. Not because what he says makes any sense. If anything, it’s the opposite. The shit he spews is so far-fetched that you can’t help but laugh. Unfortunately, it has become the sole subject matter for just about all of his already shitty music. In “Dr. Aden,” I’m gonna be honest, I’m not entirely sure what the hell is going on. According to a tweet from B.O.B., the song links to the ’40s and ’50s, where a seriously fucked up medical experiment took place in Guatemala. During this time, doctors injected mentally ill patients, sex workers, children, and others who were vulnerable with sexually transmitted diseases without their consent or knowledge. That is one story that B.O.B. linked to the song. However, another claim that seems to fit a bit more accurately is about Bayer Pharmaceuticals. This company sold medication to cause blood-clotting to prevent bleeding. Unfortunately, the initial product was created using donors before HIV testing was a priority, resulting in a rise in the disease. According to B.O.B., this was done deliberately, and this Dr. Aden (who I can’t find anything about besides citing BO.B.), was apparently one of the doctors falsely lured into creating this medication. The big issue, however, is that the company didn’t properly recall the product. Instead, they sold the remaining batches to lesser developed countries. There’s no doubt that this is fucked up. But how does it link to the first story? Where is the correlation? Am I missing something? The rapper further discredits himself by claiming that the AIDS epidemic was created by the government as a method of population control. Unfortunately, this ideology has been making rounds as we’re amid a global pandemic, with critiques of the vaccine accusing it of containing Covid-19 strains.
In his track, “Bend Over,” B.O.B. loses me for about the 100th time. I still don’t know what’s going on. He starts the song with news clips of celebrity deaths. The song progresses to comment on how people are so distracted by the sexuality of Hip-Hop, choosing to focus their attention on women twerking and artists’ sex lives. But then… I don’t know what the hell happens. He starts the second verse about some of the completely justifiable criticism he receives. And then, out of nowhere, he starts rapping about death, rituals, pedophilia, sacrifices, blood religion (what even is that??), clones, and even the Queen of England. He doesn’t even say anything about these topics, just name-drops them. It makes zero sense. Frankly, I’m not even sure if he’s aware of what he’s talking about. “The Crazies!!!” is basically the same premise. Even the song title is alarming. He lectures about how money is the root of all evil, and how everyone is panicking while he’s just “chilling in the middle.” I think that’s debatable. He once again feels the need to include a “section where the plot turn,” where he starts talking about topics like circumcisions, vaccinations, purges, schizophrenia, and herd/sheep mentalities. Yet again, he provides absolutely no insight into these ‘theories’ besides arguing that they are forced onto people.
Nothing and I repeat nothing, tops “Flatline.” B.O.B. felt the need to diss Neil Degrasse Tyson after they had an argument on Twitter about whether the Earth was flat or round. As you could imagine, one argument was a bit more…scientific. According to B.O.B., “globalists [see] him as a threat,” most likely for reasons very different than what he thinks. He compares NASA and other organizations to cults, claiming that it’s just a government sect falsifying facts for its own selfish gains. The highlights of the song include the cover art, which features a very spherical Earth, as well as a voice clip of Tyson providing scientific evidence that the Earth is round. I don’t really know if there’s much more I can say about this. Just take a listen.
Nas’s “We’re Not Alone,” is another track to start off making sense. He discusses racism in America, exclaiming that the country is changing, and Brown and Black people will no longer be the minorities. As a result, they should be treated with more respect. Valid. But things regress quickly. He then starts talking about how he witnessed “a spacecraft in the skyline, in L.A. in daytime.” To believe in aliens is one thing. I don’t know what is beyond Earth, so I don’t really have a take on the situation. But Nas makes it his mission to dive deeper in the second verse, rapping, “evidence remains in debate, documents of our own Air Force Base. Additional terrestrial information, other planets with life population, my observation. Scientists study pictures of a flying disk/visitors probably live with us, they can mimic us. It’s sort of what we’re seeing in cinemas.” I never at any point met someone and was like, hmm. I wonder if they’re actually an alien creature pretending to be human. I don’t think I’ll start now. I’m going to try and remain impartial on this one, just because I try to refrain from judging others and if aliens do come and attack us I don’t want to be slammed for that in the future. Like I said. I’m not a credible source for any of this. BUT. I would much rather believe that if aliens exist, they are planets away. Ignorance is bliss, I suppose? His line, “global warming about to burn us up,” gives me a little bit of hope that Nas at least believes in climate change, but it’s very possible that I completely misinterpreted that. Sometimes I read these lyrics and wonder if rappers truly believe some of these things, or if they say it for the shock value. Maybe they’re just super stoned? Whatever it is that got them to these conclusions, you can’t help but talk about it.
“A lot of the conspiracies are believable and the reason I say that is all this business is attached. The same companies that own one thing a lot of times are conglomerates that own other things. Now when people say, well, that sounds ridiculous. What’s not ridiculous is that we know if a child is not reading by third grade, they have a higher likelihood of going into prison. We know that’s not a conspiracy.
So can I believe that conspiracy is true? Yeah. Because at every other helm it’s true. If you look at healthcare, you’re underserved. If you look at education, you’re underserved. You get what I’m saying?
So it’s not if I can believe it or not. It’s looking at the proof’s in the pudding. Look at what you’re seeing, you know? So the question is though, now what are we gonna do about it?”
One subject that I’ve struggled with quite a bit on my blog is about separating the art from the artist. At what point do we truly separate the two? If you’re like B.O.B. and you’ve littered your Twitter feed with dangerous conspiracy theories, I think it’s fair to assume that you truly believe in them. His art reflects that without question. However, how many of these ideas are to make artists sound more intelligent or to get a rise out of religious people already attacking the culture? Some artists know that their work is perceived as Satanic, so they feed into it. Some want to go against the grain. Whatever the case may be, should these lyrics always be taken so literally? And what about those who spread potentially harmful information? Do artists have a moral obligation to their fans to not spread ‘fake news’? Some ideas can be dangerous if spread, not because of the power that they hold, but because of the misinformation. Some of these ideas, particularly those regarding race, may not even be conspiracy theories and are just tough pills to swallow. But there needs to be a distinction between what is a fact, what is a possibility, what is the unknown, and what is absurdity. Members of organizations such as Q’Anon, or deniers of diseases that are actively plaguing the world are dangerous. You can not believe and still keep others safe. You can think it has been blown out of proportion or that other issues take precedent and still practice safety measures. Just because, what if there’s a chance that you’re wrong? It’s okay to think for yourself, but keep others in mind as well.