Scottish journalist Craig Williams has a theory about Banksy — and one that involves the elusive (so elusive that here we are, still speculating on who he is) yet ubiquitous graffiti artist actually being a number of people à la Shakespearean conspiracy theories, all connected by one factor: they’re a collection of Massive Attack followers, themselves led by founding member Robert Del Naja (aka 3D). Firstly, sure, that does sound batshit when you hear it like that. But it also happens to come with a bounty of swaying evidence that, by the end of this very in-depth theory, makes it all seem surprisingly buyable. Also, this would just happen to be a great answer to the whole interminable Banksy question, so it’s easier to suspend one’s disbelief in order to make this a (potentially imaginary) reality.
Williams emphasizes that Banksy and Massive attack — particularly Robert Del Naja — are already known to be personally connected, as Banksy has spoken of a friendship between the two of them; Del Naja (who was also a graffiti artist before he became known as a rapper) appeared in the Banksy film Exit Through the Gift Shop, while Banksy wrote the forward to a book about Massive Attack. The band was also originally intended to play at Banksy’s theme park of ostentatiously made political statements, Dismaland. The two got their start in Bristol.
Williams notes political alignment between the artists: both Banksy and Del Naja have advocated for Palestine, with Banksy having painted nine pieces on the Palestinian wall and Massive Attack being involved in Hope and Optimism for Palestinians in the Next Generation.
There’s a whole section in the post with evidence about concert dates. The first bit of evidence Williams uses to substantiate his theory is actually an earlier rumor from 2010 – that people following Massive Attack on tour had actually painted Banksy’s work that appeared in North America that year. He shows how the dates add up, noting that the band’s San Francisco concerts came just before “This Will Look Nice When It’s Framed” and other murals appeared in the city. Meanwhile three murals also showed in Toronto while the band was playing there. In Boston, there was a one-day gap between the appearance of a Banksy and a Massive Attack concert.
But that particular theory had only covered 2010; what about the other links between the band and the Banksy? From there, Williams goes back in time: in 2006, a Banksy exhibit in L.A. predated Massive Attack’s California concerts by days. In 2008, surrounding Hurricane Katrina’s third anniversary, 14 Banksy stencils showed up in New Orleans, and meanwhile, Trouble the Water — the ultimately Academy Award nominated documentary about rap artist Kimberly Rivers Roberts’s and her husband’s experiences of the disaster, which Massive Attack soundtracked — premiered in the city. And in 2013, he explains, Massive Attack and Banksy had overlapping residencies in New York.
Williams’ sleuthing gets even more impressive when he starts charting connections beyond concerts: how both Banksy and Massive Attack have been affiliated with the same Glasgow nightclub; how Robert Del Naja was visiting Naples because he’s a huge fan of their soccer team around the same time a Banksy tag appeared in the city — the only place in Italy on which he’s left his sprayed mark. (The fact that Del Naja’s father is from Naples, and that it’s the only Italian city Banksy tagged has a certain emotional appeal as a clue that makes it seem compelling enough to be real — despite it kind of also being the equivalent of an astrological book telling you you’re very “human,” and thinking, “it gets me so specifically.”)