I've always been a fan of the hip hop genre and I often feel that the music is pure because they speak of what bothers them and why it does. I've grown to further loving the genre after I discovered that many of the rappers I listen to are Muslims. So you hear songs like "Allahu Akbar" by Brand Nubian and rappers having names like Rakim Allah. Other namely famous Muslim rappers would be Busta Rhymes, Mobb Depp and Nas. Fine, I thought I was listening to great and profound stuff while deepening my understanding about the beauty of my faith. i'm listening to another Muslim, I thought it would be alright.... right??
Boy, was I wrong... I've heard one of Wu Tang Clan's song (which I unfortunately can't remember) making a reference to the ignorant 85% but I didn't know anything about it and just bopped my head along to the beat. Apparently, I was indeed ignorant although I would strongly like to make a point that I'm not included in what Method Man was referring to. What he was talking about is the philosophy of the 5 Percenters Movement who call themselves Muslims but not the way Sunnis and Syiahs or even Sufis practices them. So, I decided to run a small research for my own awareness and probably yours too.
Ok, here's a quick run through of the movement. They're now known as The Nation of God and Earth which is a splinter from the Nation of Islam group and believe that black people are the true leaders of the world. They have a doctrine that believes black man can personify god through meditation and culture. For them, ALLAH is essentially an acronym of Arm, Leg, Leg, Arm, Head thus referring to the human body or self. They call themselves the 5 Percenters because there are 85% of the ignorant/blind population who are blinded by 10% of the knowing teachers who refuse to teach the 85% the real deal. Only the 5% gets the real philosophy of the world and they are the privileged ones. They memorise the Divine Alphabet and Supreme Mathematics which are popularised through rapping in the NY streets by the founder of the movement, Clarence 13X (also later calls himself Allah the Father)
They see themselves as god, so now you understand why a rapper usually has a bigger ego than all of the seven seas combined? This attitude can be hypothetically channelled through a historical connection between rap and this organisation who claims they are not a black supremacist movement. What worries me the most is that some kid out there is going to listen to these songs by rappers who claim that they are Muslims and be confused about the real teaching of Islam. I'm sensitive about saying what really constitutes the teachings of Islam but this is strictly out of the line. Islam is not a religion exclusively for black man, it's for everyone.
My ignorance has thankfully forced me to learn more and not to just nod my head to whatever I hear. It urges me to think about what I hear and to think before i emulate. I hope all of those who heart this genre would achieve an understanding about why there is such an egocentric and egoistical approach/attitude in the songs and comprehend the degree of its relativity to our practice as a Muslim, especially if you happen to make a career of it.
*just for the record, some members of the Roots are sunnis and Mos Def is a Sunni too :)*