It’s pretty stressful copping the blame for something you didn’t do. Anyone with siblings will know that feel all too well. When you have to deny being an internationally sought street artist with arrest warrants piling up, things get a little bit more intense.
Massive Attack frontman Robert ‘3D’ Del Naja has found himself having to deny accusations that he’s leading a double life as the elusive graffiti artist Banksy. Formed in 1988, the Bristol band played their first gig in the hometown in 12 years to an audience of 27,000. The energy of the gig was laced with quite a bit of hype as 3D had to deny pulling a Clark Kent out the front of his Bristol home only days before. The 51-year-old admitted to being close friends with the artist but remained adamant that, as Skepta would put it, “that’s not me.” Well, his actual words were that “it would be a good story but sadly not true.” He also claimed that Banksy’s “a mate as well, he’s been to some of the gigs. It’s purely a matter of logistics and coincidence, nothing more than that.”
Yep, 3D claims that “rumours of [his] secret identity are greatly exaggerated…” which sounds a lot like something someone with a secret identity would say. Enter investigative journalist Craig Williams, who is dead set that the frontman is behind one the best ‘whodunits’ of modern pop culture.
To back this claim up, there’s a pretty eerie map that pinpoints the works of art that have coincided with appearances by the band. For example, Banksy’s LA Barley Legal art exhibition with the famous ‘elephant in the room’ took place a week before Massive Attack begun their US tour which started in LA.
Take into account that 3D spent quite a bit of time as a member of graffiti collective The Wild Bunch before starting his band—not to mention that Banksy and 3D share a couple passions, with Massive Attack being known for carrying a political message very akin to Banksy’s. Furthermore, 3D is a known lifelong Napoli fan who attended a 2004 game in Naples, not too long after Banksy’s mural “Madonna Con La Pistola” popped up on the side of a church in the same city.
As the Sherlock behind the theory, Williams has said that ‘perhaps the assertion then that Banksy is just one person is wide of the mark, instead being a group who have, over the years, followed Massive Attack around and painted walls at their leisure.’
‘And perhaps,’ he said, ‘at the head of such a group we have Del Naja. A multi-disciplined artist in front of one the seminal groups in recent British music history, doubling up as the planet’s most revered street artist. Now that would be cool’.
Either 3D is laughing it up with his pal Banksy at the mistaken identity or he’s having to check himself because someone almost caught him out. There is, of course, the pretty well-supported theory that he’s Bristol’s Robin Gunningham, but that theory doesn’t have a nicely plotted detective map, so for the moment this has got to be one of our favourite conspiracy theories yet.