In the beginning, there was Tupac.
The first major Hip-Hop conspiracy (if you wish to believe the story) involved a meeting in 1991 that changed the face of Hip-Hop forever. An anonymous letter from someone who claims to have been a music industry insider described a closed-door meeting where 20-30 music executives (and some shady, men-in-black types) were debriefed on a plan to use rap music’s popularity to populate America’s prisons with Hip-Hop inspired criminals. The key to this conspiracy theory is that the Record Companies own stock in private prisons, something that seems not only far-fetched, but also easily debunked. Of course, this 2012 conspiracy theory follows the flavor of a long and storied history of Hip-Hop related conspiracy theories: vague plots hatched by nefarious and shadowy figures, who just happen to run things.
Hip-Hop fans are natural conspiracy theorists. With a keen ear, the listener may glean the knowledge of centuries of systemic oppression interlaced within lyrics that employ the poetic and prosaic at will. It is within the community of fans that alternate readings, or hearings, can be developed and popularized. I first heard that Tupac was still alive no less than a week after he had been laid to rest. His death was obviously both shrouded in mystery, the case is still unsolved, and sad and disheartening to his fans and fans of Hip-Hop in general. The death of rival rapper Notorious B.I.G. six months later led to even more conspiracy discussion among fans, who felt both rappers were the victims of manufactured “beef” and corporate greed. A popular theory, circulating soon after Tupac’s death implicated Death Row Records executive, Suge Knight, and seemed validated when fans began spreading the rumor that Tupac implicated Knight as the person who shot him in 1994 (more on that, here).
The Professor is in!
A 2010 VIBE article describe 13 Hip-Hop Conspiracy Theories (Tupac being alive is #1). Back then, Jay Z had just joined the Illuminati (#2), Suge Knight injected Eazy-E with AIDS (#5), and both T.I. and Ol’ Dirty Bastard were victims of entrapment or falsifying evidence (#10 and #12, respectively). Towards the end of the VIBE article, the conspiracy theories went from outlandish to tame pretty quickly. If VIBE had any knowledge of Professor Griff at that point, there was no evidence of it.
Professor Griff represents a sea-change in Hip-Hop conspiracy theories, taking a total view of the world as controlled by an evil elite. Griff goes further to indicate that the entire entertainment industry is run by an elite group that force homosexuality and even blood sacrifice for membership and fame. Yes, even rappers. Professor Griff was a member of Public Enemy until homophobic and anti-Semitic remarks in a series of interviews led to his departure from the group. Griff is now a lecturer, going on speaking tours and promoting is 2009 book Analytixz. A relatively unknown in modern Hip-Hop standards, Professor Griff’s message is catching on with fans. It may be only a matter of time before Griff’s thesis, that all force majeure in Hollywood is truly the work of a few wicked entertainment elites engaged in homosexual cabal, becomes its own force to be reckoned with. Here is a typical example of a Professor Griff lecture on the subject Illuminati cross-dressing rituals and famous African American musicians, actors and comedians.
Griff has a major presence on YouTube, where he regularly seeks to expose the Hip-Hop Illuminati: Jay Z, Beyoncé, Russel Simmons, Puff Daddy, Kanye West, Lil Wayne, Rihanna, and Wacka Flocka Flame (for some reason).
I should point out that Hip-Hop has long been the target of various conspiracy theories (example), but now Professor Griff and others inside of the Hip-Hop community have now adopted this ideology. Griff places himself as a lecturer, but also a prophet, quoting Elijah Mohammed, and militant, inciting anger and distrust in the direction of anyone within the Hip-Hop world that he deems to be suspect.