The Five Percenters, also known as the Five Percent Nation, is a movement that believes 10 percent of the world knows the truth, and those elites opt to keep 85 percent of the world in ignorance. The remaining 5 percent — the Five Percent Nation — are out to enlighten the world. The Five Percenters was founded by former Nation of Islam member Allah the Father (formerly known as Clarence 13X) in 1964 in the Harlem section of Manhattan, New York City.
The Nation of Gods and Earths developed a connection with hip-hop early on. Many artists were drawn to the group, so much so that they spread the teaching through their music.
“Both Hip Hop and the Five Percent culture developed out of the streets of New York so the two grew up together,” Hip-Hop artist J-Live told Hip Hop Wired. “So terms like “word is bond” and standing on your square in a b-boy stance, and calling your brother ‘sun/son’ go hand in hand. The Five Percent have influenced Hip-Hop. And Hip-Hop has influenced the Five Percent.”
Here are the top seven Hip-Hop artists and groups who have been Five Percenters.
Formed in 1989 in the New York suburb of New Rochelle, the Brand Nubians included members Grand Puba, Sadat X, Lord Jamar, and DJ Alamo. The group signed with Elektra Records and released their debut album, “All for One,” in 1990. The group went on to release a number of hits and at one point they were named by Live About as the greatest rap group of all time, and “One For All” was named their best album.
While the group promoted Afrocentricity, they also dropped Five-Percent knowledge.
Brand Nubian’s 1991 track “All For One” spoke of the Five Percent Supreme Mathematics.
In Lord Jamar’s verse, he rhymes, “You gotta know the ledge and wise the dumb/and understand your culture of freedom/power equally with the Gods/So you can build and born your cipher/all your life you must teach truth/of the true and living god, not a mystery spook…”
Under the teachings of the Nation of Gods and Earths, Supreme Mathematics is a system of numerology used along with the Supreme Alphabet in an attempt to understand the universe, according to Academic.com. The system was invented by Five Percent Nation founder Allah.
The Supreme Mathematics is not actual mathematics; it is a series of metaphors.
The “All For One” video, with its focus on the Supreme Wisdom Lessons, got some pushback for displaying a person with a white face and horns distributing poison in the Black community, AllMusic reported.
Straight out of NJ, the Poor Righteous Teachers infused hip hop with a different outlook. Teenage friends Culture Freedom and Wise Intelligent wanted to steer hip hop away from gangsterism and formed the group, along with DJ and producer Father Shaheed, according to AllMusic.
Their debut album “Holy Intellect” was released in 1990 and on it, lead vocalist Wise Intelligent dropped the teachings of the Five Percent Nation with songs like “Rock Dis Funky Joint” and “Holy Intellect.” The group went on to release several albums, like “Black Business” and “New World Order.”
Eric B & Rakim made their debut with the breakthrough album “Paid in Full” in 1986. Eric B was the DJ and Rakim, the MC. Almost immediately, Rakim became known as one of the best MCs in hip hop because of his unmatched flow. He still tops the lists as the greatest MCs ever.
Besides his incredible flow, Rakim was also known for the lyrics he rhymed. He spoke about the Five Percent teachings from the Supreme Wisdom Lessons.
In the single “Move the Crowd,” for example, he rhymes, “I’m the intelligent, wise on the mic/I will rise right in front of your eyes ’cause I am a surprise/So I’ma let my knowledge be born to a perfection/All praise is due to Allah and that’s a blessing/With knowledge of self, there’s nothing I can’t solve.”
Rakim did go solo and he continued to push the knowledge of the Five Percent Nation.
On his solo song “Who is God?” Rakim rhymes: “Which brings us back, to the mystic question, who is God?/Sixty-six trillion years since his face was shown/When the seventh angel appears, the mystery will be known/Check Revelations and Genesis, St. Luke and John/It even tells us we are Gods in the Holy Qu’ran/Wisdom Strength and Beauty, one of the meanings of God/G.O.D. you and me Gomars O Dubar?/Knowledge Wisdom Understanding Sun Moon and Star/Man, Woman and Child, and so is Allah.”
The song continues: “Bear witness to Allah, gave birth to all/For Allah was all, and therefore, life itself/And the universe gave birth to man/The universe was man, and man was the universe/And the universe was always existed/And existance was life/And life is Allah/And Allah had no beginning because he is, what always was/Rakim Allah, peace/Now who is God?”
Hip hop mogul Jay Z said in one interview that he lives by a line Rakim once rhymed. In the song “I Know You Go Soul,” Rakim says “Rakim gets stronger as I get older/ Constant elevation causes expansion.”
Jay Z described the phrase “constant elevation causes expansion” as a gem.
“I live my life by that right now–‘constant elevation causes expansion’,” said Jay Z.
He continued, Rakim “gave you the jewel of all jewels.”
Planet Asia was a unique hip-hop artist for a number of reasons–one being that he is a Five Percent Nation rapper based on the West Coast. The Five Percent Movement is mainly an East Coast one, specifically a New York City movement.
Born Jason Cullen Green, Planet Asia is from Fresno, California, and moved to the San Francisco Bay Area in 1998. He is one half of the hip-hop duo the Cali Agents and a member of the groups Gold Chain Military and Durag Dynasty.
Between 1997 and 2001, Planet Asia released several singles, including “Definition of Ill” and “Place of Birth.” He was recognized in 2001 by The Source,2 which named his “How the West Was One” as one of the best independent albums of the year. The album was recorded with fellow artist Rasco under the group name Cali Agents. The album also landed Planet Asia a deal with Interscope Records. But things did not go well, he left Interscope in 2003 without releasing an album.
But in 2002 he was nominated for a Grammy Award for the song “W” by Mystic.
Planet Asia signed with Avatar Records in 2003, and in 2004 released his debut solo album, “The Grand Opening.” It earned him another Independent Album of the Year award from The Source. Avatar also released a number of singles, including “Summertime In The City” backed with “G’s & Soldiers” featuring Kurupt produced by J. Wells, “Its All Big” b/w “Right or Wrong”, and “Real Niggaz” featuring Ghostface. His song “G’s & Soldiers” featuring Kurupt was featured in John Travolta’s 2005 film “Be Cool.”
Next, Planet Asia started his own record label, Gold Chain Music, with Walt Liquor. He went on to release more albums.
IN 2020 he was interviewed by the YouTube show “The Company Man” and he revealed how he first got attracted to the Five Percent Nation. It was actually an uncle who introduced him to the teachings.
“I would say around eight or nine before I even knew what Islam was or what a Five Percenter was,” he says. “It was my Uncle Frankie–rest in peace–who introduced me. He was in and out of prison at the time. This is around ’85.”
He continued, “I was so young that when he started teaching me when he started telling me like it’s a degree, one of the 28th degrees in the lessons.”
He said he came to the realization that there was an image promoted by Christians that heaven did not seem to include Black people and that this pushed him closer to the Five Percenters.
Looking through Christian magazines, he said he would see “all these white angels…and I would never see no Black people you know as angels or in heaven…so as a kid that used to bother me…to have something like that imposed on you can be traumatic.”
So he asked his uncle for an explanation. His uncle schooled him on white supremacy and the teachings of Islam and the Five Percent Nation.
Most first took note of the Brooklynite’s unique rhyme style when AZ did a guest verse on Nas’ “Illmatic” in 1994. By the following year AZ not only made his solo debut with “Doe or Die” but he also landed on number one on Billboard’s chart with the gold single “Sugar Hill.” In 1997 he topped the Billboard 200 as a member of the hip-hop collective the Firm with “The Album,” according to AllHipHop.
Over the next few years, he continued to drop successful albums, all the long also promoting the Five Percent teachings.
When asked by Vice magazine, what Five Percent meant to him, he answered: “It means that five Percent of the population has knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of the self and are not savage in pursuing happiness.”
He added, “It was just giving us knowledge of ourselves, enlightenment, and opening our eyes to many things. So I was a part of that.”
Even his name was taken from the teachings.
“Everybody had to take on an attribute or a name that symbolized themselves,” the artist explained. “You had some people named Freedom, some called Supreme and The Light and Knowledge and Sincere. My name was Asiatic, more or less like ‘Asia’ is the body and ‘attic’ is the mind, and it stood for being the original man. It stuck with me and became AZ as the years went on.”
The Wu-Tang Clan made a major impact in spreading the teachings of the Five Percent Nation. The GZA, who also performed solo as the Genius. In 1992, GZA joined the Wu-Tang Clan, a group of nine MCs, formed by his cousin RZA. The Wu’s lyrics most often espouse the teachings.
During a Ted Talk recorded at a local high school in 2014, GZA spoke about the science. While he speaks about the study of science, he also relates how he found spiritual knowledge thrbough science.
“Hip hop is my vehicle to scientific and universal enlightenment,” he said.
He later added, “Science is just knowledge about the natural world based on facts that’s learned through experiments and observation or study.”
GZA also stressed the importance of science during a 2013 visit to Bronx Compass High School. He explained, “Science unlocks the key to the universe and the mysteries of things we don’t know. Science is a way of finding out what’s there that’s hidden.”
The RZA has produced most of the albums for the Wu-Tang Clan. He is a cousin of two other original Wu-Tang Clan members: GZA and the late Ol’ Dirty Bastard. He also ventured out solo as a hip-hop artist under the name Bobby Digital and producer. And he is also heavily involved in the film world, from acting to producing.
In an interview with What’s Up TV in 2018 the RZA spoke about arriving at knowledge of self through the teachings of the Five Percent Nation.
“The beautiful thing is that as you get this knowledge it also comes with the science,” he said. “We know how far Pluto is. We know how long it takes for light to travel. When you have a calculation of things, you are able to actually have a further view and imagination…When we see something we’re able to take this look at the science and not just on face value.” He added, “And this is a blessing.”
The RZA seems to take nearly every interview to explain the teachings of the Five Percent Nation. In an interview with Complex, he was asked, “Who are the people you consider most wise?”
“There are strong men of wisdom in many different fields. They say five percent of the people are wise and righteous, and ten percent are wise but use their wiseness for wickedness or to deceive others,” he answered using the philosophy of the Five Percenters.
RZA continued, “It’s like a magician: He knows the answer to the trick, but you don’t. He must keep you blind to the truth for the illusion to work. When you’ve got that kind of wisdom, and somebody else doesn’t, you can always take advantage of them. There’s the five percent of the people that are wise and righteous, and I’d be amongst them, building, communicating, and trying to figure out how we can awaken the 85 percent. The 85 percent are walking around [like] cattle, not realizing the things we do, the violence we do; you see people falling victim to all sorts of unnecessary things because they just don’t know the way, and nobody is showing them the way.”
Photo: This July 26, 2019 photo shows Wu-Tang Clan member RZA, an executive producer of the Hulu miniseries “Wu-Tang: An American Saga,” posing for a portrait during the 2019 Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. (Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)