Hip-Hop's Illuminati Dropout Class of 2014.
Courtesy of the artist, Lil B.
It's that time of year again: Graduations have party-blocked out every May weekend while springtime optimists flock to their favorite blogs to discover soon-to-be summer hits. You know, the kind of hits that stealthily attack radio and multiply like a pop virus. But what about your favorite hip-hop artists from last year whose big follow-up hits are long-since late for class? The ones who seemed destined to reap the eternal extravagance of the hip-hop elite, but whom can't even release that album that's perpetually getting shelved?
We won't call it a conspiracy just yet, but maybe, just maybe, they've taken their place in this year's Illuminati Dropout Class.
First thing's first: a brief Illuminati run down. The Order of Illuminati was a short-lived 18th century secret society of Bavarian and German freethinkers viewed as a radical threat to European monarchies. Somewhere along the line, conspiracies linked the defunct society to a modern New World Order recruiting throughout fraternal organizations, government officials, and yes, the music industry. In the 1960s they were blamed for musically pushing an agenda of racial desegregation. In the '80s they were claimed to be responsible for hidden messages in heavy metal. And In the late '90s they were credited with instigating "Hit Me Baby One More Time" and the beginnings of Britney Spears. Horrible, horrible people, I know.
In the postmodern society we live in, hip-hop artists are criticized for representing the Illuminati's elite symbolism through opulent lifestyles, Egyptian art, ambiguous hand signs, and Godlike monikers (i.e. Yeezus, Trap Lord, Hova). And yet several other artists in recent years have failed to pick up their diplomas and graduate as the next generation of chosen ones. Here's a roll-call of said delinquents.
Azealia Banks. Whether it be through hexed out "witch pop", a long list of Twitter feuds, or sensational visuals, Azealia Banks is a Harlem MC that wears drama like a charm. Since releasing her debut single "212", her career quickly flew into international territories with charted successes in the U.K. and Australia. Once Banks' swift global rise was noticed, alongside her bisexuality, she was stamped with the Illuminati tag. With the added persona of Yung Rapunzel, she released two mixtapes, toured with the best of the EDM world, and branded herself as the Illuminati Princess in videos, interviews, and an Alexander Wang endorsement.
But in 2014, Banks' mirage of rainbow hairweave hit a snag with her debut album, Broke with Expensive Taste, being slated indefinitely followed by her self-publicized pleas to be dropped by Universal Records. While fans are still hopeful her label will surprise the world with a summer release date of her "sick sadistic shit," with no promotion or further rebellion by Banks, it's not likely. Thought to be this class' valedictorian, maybe dark forces didn't think the princess was quite ready to take her place upon the golden throne.
Yelawolf. Subsequent to being signed by Eminem's Shady Records and being featured as one of the XXL's Top 11 Freshmen of 2011, this southern MC officially entered the hip-hop landscape with enough popularity to have his craft heard beyond his Alabama roots. With a style that was country, gritty, soulful, and punk, his debut album, Radioactive, earned a damn-near perfect rating of 4.5 Mics by The Source magazine. Soon after his lyrics began to reflect an affinity toward the finer things in life he was instantly being introduced to, light years away from his preceding homeless status.
Courtesy of the artist, Yelawolf
In more recent years, the Slumerican has recorded a continuously delayed collab album with fellow soulful rapper, Big Krit, and has infamously spoken out against the rising of Illuminati trends within hip-hop. Straightforwardly, he took on a new persona as the Party Prophet. His sophomore release, Love Story, has been pushed back since early last year, and with a tentative release date for some time this month, it's more apparent that whatever ties he was suspected to have with the secret society have been vocally cut.
Ke$ha. Straight off the bat, you may be wondering why Ke$ha's name is even on a hip-hop list, Illuminati or not. She was credited by Vibe magazine as "Hip-hop's Guilty Pleasure", and without turning this into a case of mistaken identity, we're going to run with that fitting superlative. Dating back to her 2009 Tik Tok debut, the polarizing glitter fiend became a fan favorite among millennials that could appreciate her unpolished persona, hybridized synth-pop/rap songwriting, and "Started from the Bottom" party lifestyle. She released two critically successful albums, collaborated with everyone from Juicy J to Nicki Minaj, became ordained as a minister, and was then checked into rehab.
After scrapping a collab album with the Flaming Lips and completing treatment for a near fatal eating disorder, Ke$ha has released multiple anti-materialist statements and opted out of using the dollar sign in her name for future releases. Let's hope the post-dropout Kesha can still hop in her Gold Trans Am and find her way back to the top.
Lil B With his well-known pseudonym, the Based God, it's not too far fetched to see how this California-based rapper could have an all-seeing connection. He rose to popularity after releasing over 1000-recorded tracks via Myspace, while his "Based" movement simultaneously opened an antithetical subgenre of intentionally illogical parody rap and cultural juxtaposition. Releasing over 30 mixtapes and six albums in four years, the rapper of all things Based has a cult following that swears by his every offbeat word, no matter the context.
But even with the raving concerts and repetitious swag, Lil B hasn't released an album in two years. It's a possibility that much like his career, Lil B's future within the Illuminati is a toss-up. Instead of being a full-on dropout, maybe "God's Father" is being held in detention while his admission conditions are being reevaluated. After all, Katy Perry just asked him to the prom.
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter Our daily newsletter delivers quick clicks to keep you in the know
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in Dallas, delivered to your inbox Monday through Friday.