Today’s Mathematics: 5%er Rap Compilation

The DJ Premier Blog recently posted the CDQ version of the recent KRS-One and Grand Puba collaboration titled “5%” from the upcoming KRS-One/DJ Premier album “Return Of The Boom Bip.” The song, as you might guess, chronicles the rise of the Nation of the Gods and Earths in the NYC and all outlying counties in the ’70s, ’80s, and ’90s. A while back I compiled songs that explicitly  incorporate 5%er teachings, so in light of renewed interest in the subject I added “5%'” and a few more cuts to the mix. Tracklist and download link are available after the jump. This is not an 85 affair. — Thun

Download – Today’s Mathematics

Louis Farrakhan “The Meaning of The 5%”

Lord Jamar “Supreme Mathematics”

Lakim Shabazz “The Lost Tribe of Shabazz

Rakim “The Mystery (Who Is God)”

Gravediggaz “Twelve Jewels”

Poor Righteous Teacher “Gods, Earths & 85ers”

King Sun “Universal Flag”

Brand Nubian “Wake Up (Reprise In The Sunshine)”

Brand Nubian “It Ain’t No Mystery”

King Sun ft. Poor Righteous Teachers “The Gods Are Taking Heads”

Lakim Shabazz “When You See A Devil, Smash Him”

Pete Rock & CL Smooth “Anger In The Nation”

Eric B. & Rakim “In The Ghetto”

Shabazz The Disciple “Death Be The Penalty”

GZA “Swordsman”

Leaders Of The New School “Time Will Tell”

Gravediggaz “The Night The Earth Cried”

Common “Book Of Life”

Grand Puba “Black Family Day”

Poor Righteous Teachers “Word Iz Life”

Big Daddy Kane “Who Am I”

Freestyle Fellowship “Inner City Boundaries”

Movement Ex “The Lord Speaks His Mind”

KRS-One ft. Grand Puba “5%”

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43 Responses to “Today’s Mathematics: 5%er Rap Compilation”

  1. mathhattan says:

    common a 5% first time i heard that maybe it was the Badu assocition

  2. Teddy C.D. says:

    Nice! I can always dig some good 5% rap. Out of curiosity, are you affiliated with the 5% Nation, Thun?

  3. SET RULE says:

    I CEE the west coast is represented with MOVEMENT Ex a really lesser known group but the producer did work with E-Rule .. also GODBODY .

  4. verge says:

    word, dope shit. so many overlooked cuts on here. thanks!

  5. michael says:

    eh yo ! its a good compilation ! so dope
    im looking a compilation called ”CHINGA CHANG RECORDS PRESENTS OFFICIAL JOINTS” can you upload this please

  6. hl says:

    I wish I thought of this first. Dope compilation.

  7. KNOWxONE says:

    Peace to the 7s & Earths! God cipher cipher divine drop as today’s mathematics is God!


  8. cenzi says:

    I had no idea “Inner City Boundaries” was a 5% song?! Explain please!

    • Thun says:

      Freestyle Fellowship = 5%ers

      “Once we have … the knowledge of self so we can be free and no devil can ever enter the boundaries”

      Daddy-O cameo

      Universal flag (emblem you see at the top of the post) all over the video.

      • PAS says:

        Hm, Id be hardpressed to box in a cosmic force like Freestyle Fellowship as 5%, thats like saying Sun Ra was 5% or something, I really dont think they would agree.
        It is a call for the right to selfdefense though.
        Ive seen that video a number of times and have no recollection of a flag, theyre in a studio and there are kids with lyric-cuecards as I remember..
        Anyhow dope comp and some dope music, religious message aside.

        • Thun says:

          I don’t quite understand your logic.

          Because Freestyle Fellowship utilized cosmic motifs in a manner similar to a larger tradition of they can’t be 5%ers?

          The use of cosmic motifs and tropes in the manner of Sun-Ra is very common among 5%er rappers; the 120 Lessons give them plenty of similar subject matter to draw from.

          The two concepts are not mutually exclusive, at all.

          Is there anyone out there who knows the brothers well who can add some insight into this debate?

          • PAS says:

            Cosmic as in so much more than 5%ers, not motifs like gods and earths, which of course are commonplace within the theory.
            For some westcoast representation, Lateef the truthspeakers “The wreckoning” “Im a subscriber to the call thats final”

      • cenzi says:

        Knowledge of Self is universal and not just NOI. Sorry I don’t buy it. Is Daddy O even a 5%er? And I just watched the video and didn’t even recall the video even once. You could have included a Kam track if you wanted some west coast representation.

        • Thun says:

          Can you name a Christian or Jewish rap group that goes out of their way to adopt monikers like P.E.A.C.E. and Self-Jupiter, titles songs “Pure Thought” and writes a song invoking the idea that “Knowledge of Self” will keep the devils away from a self-sustaining Black nation? I wouldn’t say that these are universal terms, exactly. You didn’t have to be a 5%er to use the, but rappers that did almost certainly were acquainted with and involved in the lessons, whether the 120 of the 5%ers or the Supreme Wisdom lessons of the NOI, which are actually very similar, only different by a few revisions.

          I rewatched the video and didn’t see the flag; I guess my memory failed me here. But the issue of FF being 5%ers isn’t a function of that one memory. Take my word for it. And yes, Daddy-O was one who alternated between NOI and 5% during his life.

        • Thun says:

          I didn’t include Kam because he was straight up NOI, not affiliated with the Gods and Earths at all.

        • Teddy C.D. says:

          Hold on, NOI isn’t the same as 5% Nation at all… A lot of the teachings are similar but overall, to my knowledge they are very different–how they regard other races, etc.

          • Thun says:

            Teddy is correct – the revisions that the Gods made to the NOI Supreme Wisdom Lessons were minor in terms of how many words were changed, but they made a huge difference in terms of world view. That and the 5%ers are not interested in the strict moral code of conduct that is so important to the NOI, or the whole Minister hierarchy.

  9. Strategy says:

    Very dope comp Thun. Of course some can nitpick about the content of these songs, who and who wasn’t 5%, exactly what certain lyrics were referring to, whether they were more NOI than 5% affiliated, etc. Whatever. You need to do a few more of these! Keep the conscious content coming!

    • Thun says:

      Out of curiosity, and since some people are in fact questioning some of the choices, which artists do you think were solidly NOI and not 5%

      The only one in my view that’s a tough call is Common, but he has stated in interviews that at the time he was studying both 5% and NOI texts (and we know that the 120 and Supreme Wisdom overlap so much) that I’d be hard pressed to say that “Book Of Life” or his lyrics on the Resurrection remix are definitely NOI in nature.

  10. Gabriel says:

    I can’t downoad the file. Megaupload seems to be doin’ wrong. Could you upload it once again or send me the file via another hoster?
    Give thanks.
    Blessings and nuff respect from Germany,
    One love, Peace.

  11. Thun says:

    re: Pas. Your logic is still not working for me. If you peruse the 120 lessons, there are references to just about any kind of celestial body imaginable. Digable Planets, Rakim, and a host of hip hoppers have been influenced by that. Referring to them does not negate a 5%er influence just because it superficially resembles Sun-Ra or Parliament-Funkadelic (you wanna guess one meaning of Parliament, while we’re at it?) or what have you. Now, of course, 5%ers are going to be drawn to Sun-Ra’s whole shtick, but that would be a syncretization of influences, not one negating the other.

    Basically, until Aceyalone shows up in these comments stating that he is not and was never a 5%er, I don’t think my claim has been disproven.

    • PAS says:

      Parliament and Sun Ra are not really related musicwise, what do you mean? And should cosmic imagery automatically and implicit be regarded as 5%? Is Above the clouds by Gangstarr a 5% track in that case, because of that intro and the subject matter? Thats a bit of a stretch. And of course my “Gods and Earths” quote was as a gathering of all interstellar beings and structures there is, not limited to just gods and earths, come on now..
      I find it hard to find evidence for 5% on Freestyle Fellowship records and solo ventures, there is a lot of social awareness dealt with but not really as in the case with Brand Nubian or PRT.

      • Thun says:

        No, cosmic imagery should not automatically be regarded as an implicit 5% reference. I’m saying that it isn’t credible evidence that the rapper in question is or was not a 5%er, as you implied.

        We’re having two separate discussions at once, though. On hand, we’re talking about which rappers are 5%ers and on the other we’re debating which songs make references to 5%er concepts. These are related discussions, but we’re throwing terms about with defining them and mass confusion has ensued.

        I made the compilation with the following criteria: the rapper in question was at some point in time affiliated with the 5%ers, even if only during a process of exploration like Common, and if the song itself makes reference or advocates concepts from the 120 lessons or plus degrees. Whether or not said artist’s entire discography is inundated with 5% lingo is not really relevant, as there are artists like Lord Finesse whose affiliation is only evident sporadically, for example in the song title “Actual Facts” or when he refers to himself as “the true or living” once in a blue moon.

        Freestyle Fellowship have been listed on the Nation of Gods and Earths website as rappers down with the 5% since the mid 90s. Granted, the webmaster might be misled, but I would think if Fellowship really and truly disagreed, as you insist for some reason they must, they would’ve protested. Maybe these guys aren’t web savvy, but there fans certainly are, and I find it difficult that such information would just remain on the web and get dispersed (that list pops up in wikipedia and a whole bunch of other sites devoted to 5%erism) without them knowing. Again, I concede that MAYBE you are correct, but I don’t see how you’ve disproven my claim. Maybe you don’t think that the burden of proof is on you, but we could argue all week about that and get nowhere.

        Now, as far as “Inner-City Boundaries” the lyrics state “Once WE have the knowledge of self so we can be free and no devil can ever enter the boundaries.” While Cenzi is correct in suggesting that “self knowledge” or “know thy self” are socratic and Emersonian concepts that have a huge history that have nothing to do with 5%erism and exist elsewhere in popular culture, the exact phrasing “knowledge of self” and the concept that it is collectively achieved are most certainly ideas that originate in the Nation of Islam and the Nation of Gods and Earths (5%ers. That is not a term that is thrown about casually without being a reference to the teachings of those groups. Kweli, for instance, who I don’t think is a full-fledged 5%er (what constitutes being a full-fledged 5%er is a subject for another debate) uses the term in conjunction with the word “determination” which is a knowing reference to a specific plus degree; the lyrics of the song also correspond with the concept as the 5%ers define it, it isn’t just a casual or coincidental use of these terms.

        The same is true for “Inner City Boundaries” — “I gotta be righteous, I gotta be free” …. “Once WE have the knowledge of self so we can be free and no DEVIL can ever enter the boundary…” Discussing a collective movement to keep devils (in plural, we’re not talking about keeping ) who in NGE doctrine are defined as those who cause trouble amongst the RIGHTEOUS people,(aka original man,, 16 shades of Allah’s family, etc.) out of a self-sustaining community. C’mon man, this is not some generalized commentary on good vs evil or extremely vague Sun-Ra like metaphysics.

        As for above the clouds, both rappers are well know around NYC to be 5%ers, and the very lyrics to the song are “I, Self, Lord, and Master” which is the 5%er acronym for I.S.L.A.M. so you could not have picked a worse example to prove your case. Following that you got “triple darkness”, “jewels”, and “soul controller’ …. shit, I should’ve included it in the comp. If those words were employed with different phrasing and in different contexts and spread out over several albums, it would be a coincidence. Here, it’s a 5%er song.

        Now don’t get me wrong, the heart of what you’re saying — that groups like Freestyle Fellowship absorb a lot of different influences and shouldn’t be pigeonholed — is valid. I don’t feel that I’m limiting the scope of their commentary by pointing out one of their more obvious influences, though.

        • PAS says:

          Hahaha thankyou for that elaborate answer, nothing like a good book to shut down a conversation.
          That Guru was a muslim I knew, but that he was a 5%er I didnt, still dont, since the the two are not one and the same. It is onething to sympathize and one thing to devote yourself.
          But thanks for clearing that I.S.L.A.M-acronym for me, I didnt know that, yeah hahaha I couldnt have picked a worse choice apparentely, while maybe not a 5% anthem it is clearly a homage to islamic theory. I will never listen to it the same way again, kinda sad now that I think about.

          As for FF and 5%, if Acey was 5% wouldnt albums like Book of human language and magnificent citys subject matter be represented by more of that?If you had a whole album to spread thought on, and your thoughts went a certain way, wouldnt you represent that further?

      • Teddy C.D. says:

        I agree, in that I wouldn’t label the Fellowship as a “5% Rap Group” per say, but some of their lines are definitely 5%-influenced, from what I can tell. Their lyrics aren’t anywhere near as submerged in 5% teachings in as certain groups who made it a priority in their music, like Brand Nubian or PRT, but I can definitely see why Innercity Boundaries was included on this comp.

        • PAS says:

          To me Innercity Boundaries is the representation of a Black Panther-stance, the name of the song itself allude to the thoughts of Bobby Seale and Huey P Newton socialist life in LA. Less separation and more co-op, without the oppression of the racist police and military force, “I got to be able to COUNTER attack” is a line about selfdefense, and together with the line about to be open, can also be a way of saying that neither state nor organized religion should interfere with ones life…Above the clouds should be a more fitting choice as Thun pointed out.

  12. Teddy C.D. says:

    Can anybody tell me just what in the hell X-Clan was/is? From what I recall, I don’t remember them ever directly mentioning 5% but they did refer to the black man as being the divine. Were they NOI?

    • Thun says:

      X-clan were 5%ers, or at least Brother J was. He talks about Gods and devils quite a bit, plus the whole obsession with “0 to 9.” The group as a whole was just more eclectic in terms of the iconography they invoked – they were heavy into the whole Egyptian/Kemetic things, borrowed certain things from the Hebrew Israelites (as did PRT), Rastafarianism (Like Jeru), Black Power/Nationalism/Garveyism, etc.

      The thing that people should realize is that being a 5%er did not mean that all these other forms of expression or ideology were closed off; quite the contrary. This is another huge difference between NOI and 5% – five percenters were very much in touch with the youth and the streets, so they absorbed a lot of the various styles of the times, whereas NOI shunned afrocentricity and things of that nature.

      Hell there are even groups like Goodie Mob, which syncretized various aspects of 5%erism with storefront Baptist ministry type shit.

      • Teddy C.D. says:

        Ah, thanks. And good point about the 5%ers. From what I know at least, NOI is more of a religious sect than the 5%ers and more steadfast in their principles regarding spirituality, ethnicity and culture, whereas 5%ers don’t typically refer to the 5% Nation as being a religion, but instead absorb philosophies and influences from a variety of sources including the NOI to expand upon their own principles.

  13. Strategy says:

    This is an interesting discussion. Of course, we should recognize that one problem with it is the problem of labels. Labels define people in a way that sometimes appears to constrict them to one worldview, and each label is subject to the interpretive boundaries of the labeler AND the labelled. So there ends up being many angles for debate. And Thun is very right about the confusion of debating without defining terms.

    I kind of figured this great post by Thun would generate a lot of discussion, as I am rather familiar with these debates around what (and who) is a 5%er, NOI, or Muslim. And then, especially in NYC, there’s a whole bunch of other streams and sects that come into the mix (Ansars, Moorish Science, Ahmadiyya, Black Israelites, etc.). It is pretty complex. But the inlfuence of Clarence 13x’s Nation of Gods and Earths is remarkably prominent, from cosmology to “hip-hop” vocabulary (think white suburbanites saying “word is bond” to eachother).

    With a few exceptions, the vast majoirty of our beloved MC’s have not firmly settled on a single orthodoxy, they are synthesizing many influences (call it salad-bar religion if you like). It is not always label-friendly. The more important point to me is that they are, even if its brief, taking on the mantle of the “conscious MC” and expressing cosmological, ontological, and political worldviews that show that hip-hop’s young black men have something of depth to speak upon beyond skills, crime, and girls. Hip-hop today very DESPERATELY needs more of that in my opinion, regardless of the tradition its inspired from.

    • Thun says:

      Well, said, and I agree 100%, but as for the artists on this compilation, a good number (Brand Nubian, PRT, Movement Ex, Lakim Shabazz, Rakim, and GZA) were firmly rooted in the 5% tradition and incorporate those teachings into their songs in very direct, i would say, unmistakable manner. This doesn’t mean that they didn’t synthesize other influences at all, because this is hip hop and of course they did, but the songs posted are undoubtedly about being 5%ers. I do disagree with your sense that such synthesis, or syncretism, is equivalent to “salad bar religion” since most of these belief systems and cultures we describe do not theorize themselves as “religions” in the popular sense, and are rarely described by people who study theology, religion, anthropology as such anyhow. Combining 5%erism with hip hop seems to me to be a very … hip hop thing to do. Or a very 5%er thing to do. Or one is acting on the other and vice verse? Ha. It’s all very messy and confusing and a beautiful thing.

      • Strategy says:

        So maybe you agree 95%. 🙂 I’m feeling your points though. Its interesting how 5%ers were so immensely influential with hip-hop youth, even though they had a fairly minor influence in the NYC black community back then. I’ve yet to see a study that really effectively pinpoints how that occurred (although this is pretty good: http://amzn.to/dYbkoB). Anyway, thank God for the 5% Nation. WIthout it hip-hop would have been very different and likely pretty uninteresting to me… Dope post Thun, keep em coming.

  14. Beneficial says:

    Thank you for not putting Jus Allah on this.

  15. Five Alive says:

    This discussion was the perfect example of “building”

    Maybe I should post here instead of sohh.com

    Peace to all y’all and the compilation, hiphop in its truest form.

  16. Needee says:

    Trying very hard to find a ciper in Nash Tn. Somebody help a earth PLEASE

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