Beyoncé is many things to many people – muse, icon, trailblazer, Sasha Fierce – but there's one label that she may not be so quick to claim: Illuminati. The pop goddess has been dogged with rumored links to the super-secret society for years, with conspiracy theorists pointing to her and husband Jay-Z as the reigning king and queen of the centuries-old organization.
But how did the Lemonade singer come to be associated with the Illuminati in the first place? And who or what are the Illuminati anyway? And, perhaps most importantly – why does it matter if she is, in fact, a reigning member of the secret society? Good questions, not-so-easy answers.
Queen Bey's affiliation with the Illuminati actually stems from her relationship with husband Jay-Z, who has been linked to the powerful secret society since the late 1990s. As Hova rose to success with a string of platinum albums, starting with 1996's Reasonable Doubt and spanning In My Lifetime, Vol. 1, Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life and Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter, conspiracy theorists began to speculate that the music mogul's powers extended beyond mere talent and bravado; in their eyes, Jay-Z was actually a member of the Illuminati, an exclusive group made up of the intellectual and political elite, which literally runs the world.
Add to that the fact that the signature hand sign for Jay Z's Roc Nation involves holding both palms up in a triangle formation – believed to be a nod to the triangle symbol that represents the Illuminati – and it starts to become clear how and why theorists see hints of the couple's membership everywhere. Beyoncé's stunning 2013 Super Bowl performance, for instance, gave conspiracy theorists whiplash when she flashed the Roc Nation hand symbol at halftime, a move theorists pointed to as evidence of her allegiance to the Illuminati.
Theorists also point to Beyoncé's music videos, which are notoriously rife with symbolism, as hints at the singer's double-life as the Queen of the Illuminati. Her Grammy-nominated (but notably not-winning) 2008 music video for "Single Ladies" has drawn particular interest from theorists, with some claiming that messages can be heard when the song is played in reverse.
The far reaches of the Internet even link Beyoncé's rise to fame with R&B singer Aaliyah's untimely 2001 death, with theorists claiming that Aaliyah was killed because she had tried to get out from under the Illuminati's control. According to that narrative, Aaliyah was meant to be the rightful queen of the music industry, but after her death, Beyoncé stepped in to take her place.
Beyoncé and Jay-Z aren't the only hit-makers who are suspected of being members of the elusive Illuminati either; Whitney Houston, Justin Bieber, Bono, Eminem, Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne and Dr. Dre are among those believed to be among the chosen ones as well, using their collective powers to lead the New World Order.
But as of now, none of the theories have been confirmed, though Beyoncé has been forced to address the ever-present conspiracies in the best way she knows how: in song. Her 2016 hit "Formation" even kicks off with a line hitting back at the rumors.
"Y'all haters corny with that Illuminati mess," she croons in the first refrain. Pretty soon, though, the hook kicks in, and fans quickly forget about the Illuminati reference, instead watching her tackle much more important issues. A convenient distraction, perhaps?