Many people believe that the world is controlled by a conspiratorial organization called the Illuminati, which works behind the scenes to control events. Madonna wrote this name-dropping rapped track in response to those who accused her of being a member of the shadowy group.
Before writing the song, Madonna did some research regarding the background of the Illuminati. She explained to Rolling Stone: "The real Illuminati were a group of scientists, artists, philosophers, writers, who came about in what is referred to as the Age of Enlightenment, after the Dark Ages, when there was no writing and no art and no creativity and no spirituality, and life was really at a standstill. And right after that, everything flourished. So we had people like Shakespeare and Leonardo Da Vinci and Michaelangelo and Isaac Newton, and all these great minds and great thinkers, and they were called Illuminati."
"They were illuminating people," Madonna added. "It had nothing to do with money and power. Of course they were powerful, because they influenced people. But their goal was to inspire and enlighten. So when people refer to me as a member of the Illuminati, I always want to say thank you. Thank you for putting me in that category. But before I can say thank you, I feel like I had to write a song about what I believe the Illuminati to be, and what it isn't."
The song was produced by Kanye West. Madonna told Rolling Stone: "When I played a lot of my songs that were unproduced for Kanye, that song resonated with him. He loved the melody, and he was actually jumping up and down on the soundboard. He literally stood on top of the mixing board — we were worried he was going to hit his head on the ceiling, but he didn't. He ended up being very excited about that track, and then he added his spin to it, musically, and I love it. To me, he elevated the lyrics."
Here are a couple more songs about the Illuminati:
"Illuminati" by Korn (The band exposes the Illuminati's plans for a totalitarian one world government.)
"The Devil Is A Lie" by Rick Ross (Jay-Z addresses in his verse the Illuminati rumors that have plagued his career.)
Madonna has been friends with Kanye West for years, and he worked with her on the tracks "Holy Water," "Wash All Over Me" and "S.E.X.," as well as this number. "We ran into each other at a party and we got to talking and he just said, 'Where are you with your new record? I know you're making a record right now and I want to hear it,'" she explained to Complex magazine. "He came over to my house one day and he listened to everything and he said, 'I want to do with you what Rick Rubin did with me and my (Yeezus) album. I had almost finished it and Rick came in and basically went through every track, made comments, made things better, and strip things down.'"