While music might be intended to inform or incite, it is also designed to entertain. And as a glance at bestsellers lists can attest, conspiracy sells. The search for hidden meaning and coded symbols adds another level on which a product can be enjoyed. Which might explain why Jay Z keeps putting occult references in his songs and videos, even while he explicitly denies being part of the Illuminati. “Great rap should have all kinds of unresolved layers that you don’t necessarily figure out the first time you listen to it. Instead it plants dissonance in your head,” Jay wrote in his 2010 book Decoded. And what better way to plant dissonance than canny use of subversive imagery. Hip-hop was predicated on sampling and remixing older ideas into something new and relevant, and Illuminati myths and symbols can be sampled the same way a drumbeat can.
Then again, there might be a more pragmatic reason why hip-hop latched on to the idea of the Illuminati. As Rakaa Iriscience of the trio Dilated Peoples pointed out in a 2014 interview with Hiphopdx.com, “There were a lot of organizations that existed. That one [the Illuminati] just happened to rhyme with body, party, naughty and a lot of other things. It sounds cooler than some of the other ones do.”