1. I believe in the spirituality, humanity and genius of Black People, and in Our new pursuit of these values.
2. I believe in the family and the community, and in the community as a family, and i will work to make this concept live.
3. I believe in the community as more important than the individual.
4. I believe in constant struggle for freedom, to end oppression and build a better world. I believe in collective struggle: in fashioning victory in concert with my Brothers and Sisters.
5. I believe that the fundamental reason Our oppression continues is that We, as people, lack the power to control Our lives.
6. I believe that the fundamental way to gain that power, and end oppression, is to build a sovereign Black nation.
7. I believe that all the land in America, upon which We have lived for a long time, which We have worked and build upon, and which We have fought to stay on, is land that belongs to Us as a people.
8. I believe in the Malcolm X Doctrine: that We must organize upon this land, and hold a plebiscite, to tell the world by a vote that We are free and Our land independent, and that, after the vote, We must stand ready to defend Ourselves, establishing the nation beyond contradiction.
HISTORY LESSON: The Islamic group to which Brand Nubian belong, known by outsiders as the Five Percent Nation of Islam, by insiders as the Nation of Gods and Earths, hold beliefs so far removed from mainstream Islamic teachings as to be virtually unrecognizable as Islamic to a majority of Muslims. For example, the chant “allahu akbar” (“God is Greatest”) in the context of this Brand Nubian song means something very different than in mainstream Islamic beliefs. God/Allah, for Five Percenters, is not the Divinity as conventionally defined by the monotheistic faiths. God is the black man.
Islamic rap is no marginal cultural phenomenon, but has firmly implanted itself at the center of US mass culture. In 1997, for instance, three of the Top Ten albums on the Billboard charts were by rap groups with Islamic affiliations. Occupying the #1 position was Nas’s album It Was Written. At the time, his video single “If I Ruled the World” (recorded with Lauryn Hill of the Fugees) was in heavy rotation on MTV, and since then, “Street Dreams” has aired frequently on MTV. Nas is an avowed Five Percenter. At #7 were the Fugees, whose album The Source had spent many weeks at #1 and eventually went platinum, with sales of over 4 million units. When Fugees were hot they were not just a massive commercial phenomenon but are highly acclaimed by critics as well, some of whom regarded the Fugees as the salvation of rap while others see them as the new face of alternative rock. If the Fugees were not in fact Five Percent members, there are several indications that they are very close to it. Their chart-topping numbers include several references to Islam, such as my personal favorite, from their hit “Fu-gee-la”:
I’m a true champion
Reads his Daily Qur’an
It’s a phenomenon,
Lyrics fast like Ramadan.
Finally, at #10 was A Tribe Called Quest’s Beats, Rhymes and Life. Tribe, a critically respected rap group, is considered to be on the “positivity” tip.
Among the commercially successful and critically hailed rappers who belong to the Nation of Gods and Earths are: Rakim (Allah) of Eric B and Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Poor Righteous Teachers, Busta Rhymes, Leaders of the New School, The Guru of the group Gangstarr, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, and Mobb Deep. All members of the group, Wu Tang Clan, belong to the Five Percent Nation, including those whose solo work has sold in the millions: Method Man, Ol’ Dirty Bastard (RIP), Raekwon, and most recently, Ghost Face Killer. The Grammy Award-winning Digable Planets are also part of the Five Percent orbit,6 and the Digables’ second release Blowout Comb is loaded with Five-Percent references. In fact, many more noted rappers belong to Five Percent Nation than to Minister Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam (NOI). Prominent rappers who are NOI members or sympathizers include Ice Cube, Public Enemy, Kam, Professor Griff, and Paris.
AGAIN “FEAR OF A BLACK PLANET”
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