“We were beginner’s in the hood as Five Percenters / But something must’ve got in us, ‘cause all of us turned to sinners…” -AZ on Nas’ “Life’s a Bi#ch”
Hip-Hop has lost its way… or shall we say balance. While flaunting money and drug game exploits run abundant, the lessons in the music have been submerged since capitalism took over and the jewels have been buried.
Hip-Hop Wired takes a look at what happened and the importance of the Five Percenter messages which were brought to the game.
Revisiting some classics and talking with some of the pioneers, it’s time for: “Each one to teach one.”
Speaking with Raekwon, Immortal Technique, Fab 5 Freddy, Poor Righteous Teachers’ Wise Intelligent and insight from Russell Simmons, get knowledge of self after the jump!!! [More]
“Rock from party to party, backyard to yard / I tear it up ya’ll and bless the mic for the Gods…” -Rakim “My Melody”
On February 5th of 2010, as blizzards swept across the northeastern part of the United States, hundreds of people braved the snowstorm and converged upon Trenton, New Jersey for a concert called “The Legends of Hip-Hop: Return of the God MC’s.” The show was headlined by Rakim and featured Brand Nubian, Cappadonna and Masta Killa of the Wu-Tang Clan, and hometown hero Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers (PRT).
As the artists took to the stage and displayed the wizardry of their wordplay, the festivities transcended the run-of-the mill rap show. Reaching across the ages, grasping at the original purposes of such events throughout time, as the show progressed, it took on the spiritual dimensions of indigenous gatherings where traditions and beliefs were celebrated and reaffirmed; where commune with nature and the universe were reinforced.
Poor Righteous Teachers – “Holy Intellect”
This was more than just music, more than just message. It was a manifestation of a way of life that is at the core of what we now know as Hip-Hop culture.
Pulsating with Five Percenter vibrations, these lyrical alchemists metamorphosed the base elements of the teachings of the Nation of Gods and Earths into the golden wisdom of their songwriting. Indeed, some of the best to have ever touched the microphone have been students of, influenced by, or have utilized elements of the teachings of Nation of Gods and Earths, commonly known as Five Percenters.
This includes Jay-Z, Nas, Rakim, Busta Rhymes, Wu-Tang Clan, Brand Nubian, Poor Righteous Teachers, Gangstarr, Big Daddy Kane, LL Cool J, Big Pun; even Erykah Badu and the Digable Planets whose Grammy-Award winning ‘Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” contains a line alluding to the Five Percent.
“The God, send you back to the earth from which you came.”-Jay-Z “Jigga My Nigga”
The Nation of Gods and Earths was founded by Allah the Father (also referred to as Clarence 13X Smith), in 1968 after leaving the Nation of Islam’s mosque # 7, then under the leadership of Malcolm X and teaching his Five Percenters for many years. Using the foundational elements of his “Supreme Mathematics” and “Supreme Alphabets,” along with a core of the Nation of Islam’s “Supreme Wisdom” which he slightly modified to form the “120 Lessons,” he brought his own unique understanding of Islam as a way of life to the streets of New York.
From the streets of New York, his teachings spread across the United States and around the world. Rap music has had a part in the dissemination of these teachings. But then again, the teachings themselves are the roots of rap music and Hip-Hop culture on a whole.
In his autobiography, Life and Def: Sex, Drugs, Money, and God, Russell Simmons, a founding father of the rap music industry, labels the Nation of Gods and Earths as an “important influence” in the history of Hip-Hop that has been overlooked.
In her study, Five Percenter Rap: God Hop’s Music, Message and Black Muslim Message, documenting that Kool Herc reported a heavy Five Percenter presence at his parties, Professor Felicia M. Miyakawa observed:
“Even in the earliest days of Hip-Hop, the Five Percenters were regarded as an integral part of the Hip Hop scene.” The fact that an entire book has been published on the topic of Five Percenter influence on rap is a testimony to the strength of the impact.
It has also been reported that two of Hip Hop’s founders Kool Herc and Afrika Bambaataa personally studied Five Percent teachings as well. The foundational lessons of the Zulu Nation, the spiritual core of early Hip-Hop, were directly derived from the Supreme Mathematics and Alphabets. The Gods and Earths being a factor in the switch from street wars to street jams gels with what Russell Simmons further records in his autobiography.
“During the period when the gangs I hung with in the 70’s gave way to 80’s Hip Hop culture,”writes Simmons. “It was the street language, style and consciousness of the Five Percent Nation that served as a bridge.”READ MORE