I pay very little attention to Top 40 but even I know who Jay-Z is and what his songs are. What I didn’t know was that he’s been using some occult imagery and I find this fascinating. The music and links in this post are NOT PG, so if you’re not comfortable with strong language you might not want to click.
Despite all the conspiracy theories abounding on the web about his place in the Illuminati, Jay-Z says it’s just to push people’s buttons. In an interview with Angie Martinez of Hot 97 he says:
I don’t know where it started. I don’t know where it came from. I really think it’s really silly. For the record, I of course believe in God, but I believe in one God. If people must know my religious beliefs, I believe in one God. I don’t believe in religion. I don’t believe in Christians or Muslims. I think all that separates people. I think it’s one God. I think it’s all the same God, and I don’t believe in Hell. But as far as God, of course I believe in God. Am I a part of some sect or cult? That sounds stupid to me. It’s like ignorant to even say, and umm… I guess that’ll be the last time I address that. It’s ignorant to me.
Regardless of what his beliefs are, his use of imagery is fascinating. Using occult imagery isn’t unknown in the rock world but I believe Jay-Z may be the first hip-hop artist of note to embrace the dark mystery of occult symbology.The video of “Run This Town” is really fascinating.
Rhianna looks like a priestess of some mystery cult, the use of torches brings to mind primal nighttime rituals and the hoods, covered faces and draped headcoverings are so evocative of secret societies. At one point Jay-Z looks like he has the dark folds of a toga draped over his head. A man bringing fire to Rhianna reminds me so much of the priest bring the flame of the balefire to the altar. The imagery evokes the Black Panthers as well, embracing a counter-culture vibe.
The lyrics are amazing. Life is a game that isn’t fair. Rhianna isn’t concerned with society’s rules because she doesn’t abide by them. She pursues her True Will and stands tall and proud against the misfortunes of life. Materialism is both respected and denounced. Kanye asks that photos not be taken of him in church, suggesting worship is a private, secret thing.
Yeah, I’m totally over-thinking this, but that’s because it’s fueling two lines of thought in my brain:
1. What would professional Pagan hip hop look like?
2. Is classical occultism something that is resonating with the Black community right now?
I find all of this fascinating. Jay-Z is really pushing limits with his clothing line and his videos. He’s a savvy guy and it’s all part of his marketing scheme. What Jay-Z truly believes is almost irrelevant. What is fascinating is that his fans are responding to this. Maybe his next project will be a duet with Ozzy Osborne of “Mr. Crowley”?
Whatever Jay-Z is up to next, his latest video promises he’s going to keep pushing limits. And if he doesn’t then the fabulous video on Kanye West’s blog promises us more classical/Pagan/occult imagery from Rocafella Records!