Sup, G?
November 2, 2002 12:02 AM   Subscribe

Sup, G? The Five Percent Nation: A splinter group from the Nation of Islam, they have contributed quite a bit to the hip-hop scene -- and to the English language. Phrases like "Break it down", "word", and even "peace" (as a form of salutation) can be traced back to their teachings. The Wu-tang Clan and Digable Planets are among the artists greatly influenced by the unique, sometimes inspiring, and often unsettling, worldview of this religion. It ain't all smiles und sunshine, but whatever you think of it, one thing's for sure: This is one fit and fecund memeplex.
posted by condour75 (28 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Just rode home w/ a Somali guy. He's a chemical engineer, but he's driving' hack in T.O. On other drives, I've met Ethiopian doctors, Polish Architects and Afghani physicians. None of these guys are in thrall of Bin Laden, the Pope or Utopia. They're just guys trying to make a living here in "The West". Basically, the prism through which we converse is that of struggle. And these guys are no strangers to it. (I haven't met their wives...It's a city cab ride).

Much as I dig the "Butterfly Child" ideals of The Planets and the business acumen of the Wu, they are, ultimately, irrelevant.

My cab driver has not heard of them. He's a scientist. Or was. Now he's driving a cab. Fortunately, it's snowing here, so business is good.

Point me to the meme...and,
"Throw yer hands in the air like you don't care!"
posted by hobocode at 12:39 AM on November 2, 2002

Interesting link, but I'm not convinced that this paper has the etymology of "g" right. Just think of how it's used in context. Here's some examples.
posted by josephtate at 12:44 AM on November 2, 2002

Please, disregard the 2X posting. I was distracted by Pie. Good Pie. Pumpkin.

"Phurban" may in fact be the root of a globally accessible language. But, not like... esperanto. Phurban hablo ici?!
posted by hobocode at 1:00 AM on November 2, 2002

Amazing link, thanks condour75. Meaty with intertextuality and references I'll be following up for days.

Word is bond.
posted by adamgreenfield at 1:28 AM on November 2, 2002

Cher hobocode: Don't tell me you've forgotten the crucial bit, the waving of those hands once they've been thrown in the air? I think it's the waving that communicates the vigor, the abandon, the je ne sais quoi of the just-don't-care.

(On preview: Finish the pie before doing so. Good pie should never go to, ahem, waist.)
posted by allaboutgeorge at 2:31 AM on November 2, 2002

The Fugees never had an album called 'The Source', but 'The Score' did indeed sell in large numbers. The frontman of Gang Starr is 'Guru' rather than 'The Guru'.
posted by nthdegx at 3:04 AM on November 2, 2002

All pie is not the same--zen saying about ...and seems linked to a very early Cohen "Did you go up against the pie last evening?"
posted by Postroad at 3:13 AM on November 2, 2002

Would this then be the Five Percent Nation of Harmful Free Radicals?
posted by yerfatma at 5:24 AM on November 2, 2002

neo-marxist clap-trap.

I made my first pumpkin pie last night...
posted by clavdivs at 7:32 AM on November 2, 2002

More background.
posted by gimonca at 8:41 AM on November 2, 2002

Don't forget our own owillis of 3% Nation fame!
posted by y2karl at 8:49 AM on November 2, 2002

Allah, a.k.a. Arm Leg Leg Arm Head ...


According to Five Percent beliefs, only a man can achieve the level of perfection symbolized by a 7, whereas a woman can only reach a 6.


Wise Intelligent of Poor Righteous Teachers has asserted ... "the potency of melanin in the black man makes him naturally rhythmic"

Can someone name me a reason not to look on these, um, "mathematical" teachings as incoherent, superstitious garbage?

(Not that this was a meet-the-religion link -- but it all became too overwhelming.)
posted by argybarg at 9:05 AM on November 2, 2002

Most members refer to themselves as Gods rather than Five Percenters

This resolves the mystery around the "I am God" tarot card message from the Muslim sniper duo. NOI and its offshoots should be treated the way Scientology is treated in Germany. It should be outlawed as obviously harmful to individuals and society.
posted by paleocon at 10:26 AM on November 2, 2002

paleocon: wuh? If you're saying the sniper was a Five Percenter, not NOI, what is the rationale for throwing away the constitution here?

Regardless, if you outlaw a group, you just make that group more attractive to outlaws. Hey the f'ing sniper used a gun to kill people, don't you think they should outlaw guns?
posted by wrench at 10:58 AM on November 2, 2002

don't feed the troll...
posted by condour75 at 11:22 AM on November 2, 2002 guys just now gettin hip to the 5%?!
That's like so...1988.
posted by black8 at 11:58 AM on November 2, 2002

we can take it back to 85 if you want to start acting like you live.
posted by eddydamascene at 12:25 PM on November 2, 2002

This is one fit and fecund memeplex.

You know, if there's one "memeplex" that's more self-referential and more about self-description and self-promotion than the blogosphere, hip-hop music is it. Have you ever noticed how much of hip-hop is talking about the excellency of their lyrics, personality, delivery, etc? Even things like giving the shout out to whoever seem more like a way of winning "points" for yourself rather than actually thanking or connecting.

This stuff in the article was no exception. I surely didn't learn anything about religious teachings... and it's hard for me to have respect for anything religious that has such a prevalent mixture of pop culture in it.
posted by namespan at 1:49 PM on November 2, 2002

Likewise, it's hard for me to find any respect for anything pop cultural that has such a prevalent mixture of religion in it. That's what surprised me so much about this; I was a bit taken aback by the fact that Digable planets had this bit of dogma behind it. I still love them, but the crotchety atheist in me -- who, somewhat selectively, only saw the quasi-Marxist hippie aspect of the group -- is a bit upset anyway.

As for the unfortunate sniper business, I didn't mention that in the FPP because i didn't want this to become instant snark-soup. But come on, there are assholes in any belief system.
posted by condour75 at 3:18 PM on November 2, 2002

Good post. I've come across this before when I was growing up somewhere in Ohio. I had to laugh when I saw black8's comment. The point of this that there may be more religion around us than we know. Religion is the ultimate meme, and is inescapable. It is contained in the architecture, the music, the languages we speak and in anything made by the hand of man. Why does it surprise anyone to find hidden occult messages in rap music? Why does it bother anyone? The 5% have influenced far more than rap music. Keep your eyes open. It all connects in ways we cannot yet see. Forgive me for being a weirdo but........well.

And where does this relate to the sniper? Has he come out and referenced the 5%? Other then the tarot card? His last name? It'd be a bigger reference if his last name was El, or Bey.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:43 PM on November 2, 2002

Look at the number 5 on your keyboard.
posted by elwoodwiles at 3:47 PM on November 2, 2002 [1 favorite]

don't feed the troll... -condour75

As for the unfortunate sniper business, I didn't mention that in the FPP because i didn't want this to become instant snark-soup. But come on, there are assholes in any belief system. -condour75

Yes there are condour. And some of them name call.
posted by paleocon at 6:28 PM on November 2, 2002

Bleh. The NOI is little more than the Klan in blackface and the "Five Percenters" are the worst of the lot. Mathematic, Asiatic, Gods and Earths these fuckin' numbskulls make $cientologists look halfway rational.
posted by MikeMc at 6:35 PM on November 2, 2002

The five percent nation? Looks like the work of Yacub.
posted by eddydamascene at 8:13 PM on November 2, 2002

MikeMc: You'll drop me a line when members of the Nation of Islam start burning crosses on white people's lawns, yes?
posted by allaboutgeorge at 10:26 PM on November 2, 2002

hehehe is that the soul coughing album eddydamascene? I cam across that while googling too.
posted by condour75 at 11:46 PM on November 2, 2002

Wait until they discover all the "hidden Rastafarian messages" in Reggae!
posted by black8 at 1:06 AM on November 3, 2002

It's all part of a diabolical plan to get retired proctologists on a cruise to worship Haile Salesse.
posted by condour75 at 12:18 PM on November 3, 2002

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