Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Hip-Hop & Freemasonry: Example 1



If the way all those MCs hold their hands up like triangles is any indication, the Spirit of '76 -- Bavaria-style -- is alive in well in Hip-Hop.

In Freemasonry and Black Nationalism I touched (far too) briefly on Freemasonry in the Hip-Hop community.  I should have said a lot more, but I ran out of steam -- but not out of information.  It seems at quick glance that both pro- and anti-Masonic lyrics are fairly common in Hip-Hop, as are references to the the Illuminati.  Indeed, a whole genre of conspiracy theory has grown up around this subject and a Google or two will bring up scores of videos, articles and even books dedicated to the Illuminati's Hip-Hop hijinx.  A word or two is required to light up the shadows cast by these large-looming and wonky ashlars of bad information.  Or to put it another way, there are a lot of turds caught up in the slick green threads of the Internets!

If my memory serves me well, Public Enemy and X Clan referred to Masonry quite frequently, often echoing the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and the Nation of Islam.  Quite a few groups had NOI affiliations to some degree or other.  The Five Percent Nation, an offshoot of the NOI with Masonic influences, was a huge influence on the development of Hip-Hop slang.  It's clear some MCs were drawing from a rather deep lyrical well when addressing the subject. 

On the other hand, it almost appears that in recent years dropping references to Masonry or the Illuminati has been a kind of fashion among MCs, perhaps as a way to enhance their mystique, or as another means of projecting power, much like references to firearms and symbols of physical prowess, sexual charisma, financial success and lyrical mastery.

I'm hoping perhaps LoS follower Burger Boy will help us out here!  He had this to say in response to a recent post
Jamaican DJ Vybz Kartel openly displays his Masonic affiliation, especially prior to his recent arrest on murder charges (in no way am I attempting to connect his Masonry with his arrest). He proudly displayed his Masonic ring on one of his most recent CD releases. Vybz is not what dancehall fans would call 'conscious' or 'Rasta.' He's more along the lines of guys like Bounty Killer or Ninja Man, in that they are 'slack' with their themes/lyrics.

The Wu Tang Clan was overtly 5%'er, as were groups like Poor Righteous Teachers. Wu Tang would wear you out with 5% proselytizing, and I've read that ODB was, suprisingly, the most adept at its teachings.
So whaddaya say, BB?  For that matter, it's an open call to anybody.
  • Can you cite us any references to Masonry and/or the Illuminati in Hip-Hop lyrics?  I know a few, but I haven't really listened to Hip-Hop on a regular basis since the 90s.
  • Do you know of any MCs or DJs who are Masons?  What about affiliations or sympathies with the Nation of Islam?? The 5 Percenters?
I'd like to tackle this one in a bit more depth, but I'll be fishing for leads for a while.  For the moment I'll just whet yer thirst with an example by Rick Ro$$, featuring Jay-Z, whose appearances last year in Five Percenter gear prompted a minor media hubbub....not to mention my own post.  This track appeared on Ro$$' album Teflon Don (2010), a critical and modest commercial success.

from Ro$$' Free Mason
Free Mason, freelancer, free agents, we faster
Big contracts, big contractors, built pyramids, period we masters
No caterpillars, it was just a lot of niggas
A lot of great thinkers and a lot of great inventors
I have nowhere near the breadth of knowledge necessary to do this topic full justice, so any advice or references are welcome.  I think my track will be to look at the origin of the conspiracy theory and its variations, a broad overview of lyrical references and finally, try to see if I can compile a reliable list of Masons in Hip-Hop.  But I'm open to suggestions and collaboration on this one.

11 comments:

  1. Trying to post comment and having problems. Test...

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  2. Well, the genius post I had drafted is lost to oblivion. Damn.

    But seriously, since I'm not a Mason or a Masonic researcher, my ignorance in pointing out Masonic references must shine brightly for anyone in the know.

    For 5%er references in hip hop, just listen to Raekwon's masterpiece "Only Built for Cuban Links". I haven't listened to much hip hop lately but this post and the Rick Ross samples make me want to. Good stuff.

    I have more to type about illuminati stuff, but I don't have Time currently. In short, it's reactionary conspiracy BS, mostly carried over from John Birchers.

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    1. Yeah, if only the comments had auto-save!

      I'll check out the Raekwon disc and the Wu-Tabg catalogue. I'm a bit ashamed to admit I haven't listened to those dudes very much, except for the "Ghost Dog" soundtrack. I'm not sure I'll have the stamina to do the whole hip-Hop post I envision. I've slowed down my writing schedule a lot since my peak in 2010 (for the blog, ayway).

      Amazing how much that Illuminati stuff get recycled. A lot of it goes back to Nesta Webster, Leo Taxil, Barruel and the Protocol of the Elders of Zion. I liked Terry Melanson's book on the topic, especially the chapters about the original incarnation of the Bavarian Illuminati. The "real" one in other words. He also does a good job at looking into New Age, New Thought, and various other 20th century spiritual movements. He's got a couple of good websites out there. He's actually doing original research. I think some of his work as a historian is undermined somewhat by his "Illuminati-buster" agenda, but he's conscientious and honest, not prone to making giant leaps à la Alex Jones and David Icke; he's expressed a lot of frustration about how they're like space junk orbiting the earth, creating too much reflective kibble that hampers the astronomer's attempts to get clear views of the firmament. We disagree on a lot of stuff, he's pretty "anti-Masonic" (a bit of a simplistic label, sorry Terry!), but our exchanges have always been very civil and he's always ready to recommend reliable books on the subject.

      If you get a chance, I'd recommend his book-- "Perfectibilists". His websites are also very thorough and original. I learn something new every time I read one of his articles. Much more scholarly than what I do here There are so many insincere people out there cashing in on people's fascination with the topic, just repeating what other have said. There are a couple of websites that regularly reprint our articles...I had to change the parameters of my RSS feed so they can only get the first few lines. Seeing as all their links lead back to their own sites, this obliges readers to Google a sentence in order to get the complete articles. If I hadn't done that, they'd have continued building traffic-heavy sites with our work, no revenue from ads offered, of course!

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  3. Re "large looming and wonky bad ashlars of information": Aren't these ashlars all Christian, or, present this material within a Christian perspective? As in, "Illuminati" is a group of nefarious bad guys set to bring about thee A1 Antichrist? Most of the ones I come across on that bent present it just like that. It's pretty funny, but I also feel bad for those that get caught up in that turd stew.

    But, if the Illuminati were actually only a group that had its hey day long ago, when they saw their aspirations for democracy crushed by the despots of their day; why was this particular group chosen by reactionaries to filter their propaganda through?

    Wish I had more to contribute. I'd just like to add that supposed "illuminati" or Masonic (?) symbolism is rife throughout music, regardless of genre and regardless of decade. Just look at some of Earth Wind and Fire's records, or the Delfonics, all the way to modern day hip hop and pop music, to small label comps like the recent Translinguistic Other comp "Portable Shrines Magic Sound Theatre vol 1". Btw; I often wonder if it should really be referenced as "Masonic" symbolism? Or should it be referred to more as Orphic/Eleusinian mysteries? I tend to think that perhaps these images are a bit more universal, but are filtered into a Masonic lens for those of us in the West. Am I wrong? Would love to know...

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    1. Yes, yer right. The wonky ashlars either tend to be Fundamentalist Christian or anti-NWO types, of course these cross over and you find both "left" and "right"-wing takes on the Illuminati. I first heard of it via a Bircher cassette someone sent my roommate while he was working at the NRA's ILA -- the lobbyists. Then I got more info from RA Wilson. The rest was assembled over time, but the internets have really turned the gold into turds as you say. There's a lot of info out there, a lot of it utter shite! Melanson's one of the few contemporary writers I place any value on! I don't know why the illuminati became such a target of fantasy. I think their existence shocked the old guard to the core, as they were really thoroughly revolutionary, like the most extreme wing of the French Revolution. It helps that they were created in 1776 -- easy leap to associate them with the American Revolution, especially as they shared a lot of ideas and symbols, including a lot of Masonic stuff. Your question about Masonic versus Orphic or Eleusinian symbolism is interesting. My take on that is that when Masonry became all the rage, new rites and orders and degrees sprung up all over the place, taking from all kinds of Classical, Biblical and Medieval sources and turning it into their own. It was so widespread and influential that we now associate almost all of the esoteric or quasi-esoteric symbolism of cultures from across the entire spectrum of Western Civ to the Masons. Almost anything can be viewed as a Masonic symbol: rainbows, hearts, anchors, daggers, skulls, certain flowers etc. ad nauseum. And Masonry was the source material for the innumerable fraternal organizations that sprung up in the 19th c, especially in America. We find Masonic influence in Mormonism, Wicca, the KKK, the Jehovah's Witnesses, Rastafarianism, Moorish Science, Scouting, the Fraternal Order of Police. Feral House did a nice picture book called "Ritual America" which is a lovely hardback tome, worth hours of looking through. It's a bit of a jumble and somewhat "sensationalist", but it's copiously illustrated and none of it is outright fabulism. You should check out Mackey's Encyclopedia. There are online versions, but the pair of volumes weigh a ton and it's all rather fine print. Packed with lore and explanations, they're an impressive set. Definitely worth at least a casual look-through! Anyway, I'm a bit exhausted, so this is kind a lame answer to a great question! Cheers!

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  7. Here's a link to an excerpt from a book about Freemasonry among African-American Jazzmen. Freemasonry has historically had a lot of members in the military, the police and the entertainment industry -- white and black.

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