What do I need to know?
Followers of the Nation of Islam and the Nation of Gods and Earths (Five Percenters) have long been apart of hip hop culture and are the origin for much of hip hop’s slang from “Cipher,” “God” and “Peace” to riffs on cities and states, New Jerusalem (New Jersey) and Medina (Brooklyn. The lessons and teachings have influenced generations within the lyrics of everyone from X-Clan, Poor Righteous Teachers, Rakim, KRS and Big Daddy Kane, Wu Tang and Tribe to current emcees like Lupe Fiasco, Jay Electronica, and Yasiin Bey (formerly Mos Def). Brand Nubian is another in a long line of artists that put it down for the 5% Nation with songs like “Wake Up” that were infused with lessons from the Nation’s Book of Knowledge. However, folks at MTV were none to happy with the original video, which included a black man in white face, was quickly banned for a time from MTV as listeners were outraged by the imagery and the group’s content.
What’s the story?
Five Percenters believe that 85% (the deaf, dumb and blind) of the world is unaware of God and do not have knowledge of themselves, 10 % (the elites) of the population is aware but keep the 85% in the dark leaving only the 5% (the poor righteous teachers) to bring the truth. Brand Nubian’s goal is to motivate, build and elevate the deaf, dumb and blind through verse. They do this hitting you with various aspects from the Book of knowledge including the Supreme Mathematics,
They put our Wisdom before us (murderer!)
That makes it Wisdom Knowledge (murderer!)
But we need Knowledge Wisdom To bring forth the Understanding (murderer!)
Culture Freedom (murderer!) Power Refinement (murderer!)
Equality God Build Destroy Borns our Cipher (mudererer!)
aspects of the The Supreme Alphabet,
Why Equal Self, a trader made an interpretation
Saying that we’d receive more gold for our labor in his nation
(Did we receive more gold?)
God, Now Cipher
and questions and answers from different lessons
This asiatic black man is a dog spelled backwards
The maker, the owner, the cream of the planet Earth
Father of civilization, God of the universe
Manifesting thoughts with my infinite styles
Making sure this travels, twenty-three million miles
The other six I set the crucifix
packed into practically every line of the song. Just imagine how much is in the rest of the four plus minutes.
Is it any good?
This is a hip hop classic. Grand Puba lays it down proper leaving qoutables all over the place (“So I dip dip diva civilize an 85er”). This is definitely one of those songs where you will pick up little nuggets the more you listen to it. There are a couple different versions but the Reprise in the Sunshine mix is the best. You’d think a song with so much info in it might drag but this hit when rocking African medallions instead of gold chains and party records with a message were the norm. Religious views aside, it’s really an uplifting song meant to encourage a race to unite, learn their history and educate themselves and and their children. It also samples both Ray, Goodman & Brown’s “Another Day” and Roy Ayers’ “Everybody Loves Sunshine” so its pretty damn funky.
Type of knowledge dropped?
Obviously religious to the point that this track might as well be 5% 101.