Talib Kweli began reading books about the Illuminati in the 1990s. The Brooklyn rapper said he learned a lesson from that experience that stays with him today and makes him view the incessant talk of Jay-Z and Kanye West being in the group as nonsense.
"What I quickly realized from reading all those books back then is if you do not know the history of the author, then you don't really know what the fuck you're readin'," Kweli says in an interview with VladTV. "So a lot of the Illuminati stuff and anti-Illuminati stuff comes from right-wing, conservative, Christian think tanks, John Birch Society types who felt the need to demonize Freemasons and demonize these groups at the beginning of America. So, it's all religious stuff. The Illuminati was a real organization and quite possibly could be a real organization now, but the amount of power that people allow it to have on their lives is based on them. We have the International Money Fund, the World Bank. We have rich families that are conspiring and getting together to have one currency, to have one world order to make shit easier for them. These things are dangerous and catastrophic for millions of people, some of these decisions that these rich people make. But when you start adding a boogieman, 'Oooh, mysterious, secret society' aspect to it, you really distract it from the real issue and you're not giving enough props and credit to how dangerous and how evil some of this shit really is."
Kweli also reflected on how he read several conspiracy books and how they impacted his material at the time.
"In the early '90s, I was reading a lot of that stuff, Illuminati 666, Behold A Pale Horse, New World Order, all the Matrix series books," Kweli says. "Me and the cats from Mood. Go and listen to that Mood album [Doom]. We're talking about all that shit on that album...That's what we was on."