The Meaning Of The 5%: A Look At The Nation Of Gods And Earths
In Hip-Hop music and culture, the terms “Peace, God,” “Word Is Bond,” and “Cipher,” among others, all pepper the language of the participants and proponents within the culture. While the phrases and terms have flair, the sayings have origins that were established just as Hip-Hop was forming as a known entity. The Nation of Gods and Earths (NGE), also referred to as the Five Percent Nation of Islam, is the source of those and other popular phrases.
The Nation of Gods and Earths has developed a connection with Hip-Hop culture that stretches far beyond the sharing of lingo. Labeled as the “Rastafarianism of Hip-Hop” because of the similarity to many Reggae artists embracing Rasta faith, several Hip-Hop artists have claimed ties to NGE culture. The most famous NGE Hip-Hop artist is Rakim Allah, who still remains as one of the most influential rappers ever. The “God MC” has many contemporaries such as Poor Righteous Teachers, King Sun, Lakim Shabazz, Busta Rhymes, Wu-Tang Clan, Jay Electronica and others, who have all delivered NGE ideology within their verses.
“The Five Percent is built on the premise that 85% of the population lack ‘knowledge of self’ while 10% percent have this said knowledge & hide it from the larger group.”
Nas, AZ and rap duo CNN also dropped occasional hints of the culture in their songs. Other acts such as Digable Planets, Big Daddy Kane,Gang Starr and X-Clan also followed suit by consciously putting some of the culture’s ideas forth via their recordings. Worth noting: MF DOOM, often confused with being a member of the Five Percent, was actually part of the Ansaar Allah community.
Considered an offshoot group of the Nation Of Islam (NOI), the Nation of Gods and Earths fashions itself as a separate group forging its own identity. Using “degrees” or lessons fashioned after the NOI’s Supreme Wisdom, the “120” degrees are a slightly varied version of scientific facts, conversations between NOI leaders Honorable Elijah Muhammad and Wallace Fard Muhammad, and a vast history lesson as well. The lessons teach that Blacks are the original people of the planet Earth and responsible for every facet of civilization.
The degrees also present a complex set of machinations that led to Black people suffering under the rule of White slave owners by way of oppression and fear. The Five Percent angle is built on the premise within the lessons that 85% of the population lack “knowledge of self” while 10 percent of the population have this said knowledge and hide it from the larger group. Five percent of that population are the “poor, righteous teachers” who will liberate the minds of the 85%.
The Father, or Allah as he was also known, was the founder of the Five Percent Nation and his approach to Islam was not much different than the NOI’s but far more inclusive. The Five Percent’s rise to prominence happened by way of the defiant nature of The Father, a one-time lieutenant in the NOI. Then known as Clarence 13X, the Virginia native saw a need for the Supreme Wisdom to be taught to the youth in the street.
The Father felt that the rigid nature of the NOI would turn away the urban youth, and he was more comfortable amongst the people than in the temple. By empowering Black male youth in referring to them as God, Father Allah sought to inject a sense of importance into members of the Five Percent Nation. Female members were referred to as Earths or Queens, placing heavy emphasis on the woman’s ability to give birth. It was custom to greet another Five Percenter with an exuberant “Peace!”
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