Rappers as Five Percenters

Why were so many mid-90s rappers (Tribe, Wu, Brand Nubian, Digable Planets, and others) adherents of the Five Percent sect of Islam? What’s the appeal of this sect to rappers? Do they really believe all that stuff? If I’ve placed this in the wrong forum, please move it.

There are still many, many rappers that identify as a member of the 5% Nation. The rappers you mention, not all of them identified as 5 percenters…they did share much of the same ideas. As far as “Do they really believe all that stuff”, I assume they do. And I find what they believe* a bit more believable than the Christian teachings I have been taught.

*What the 5% nation teaches defies science, and I do not believe they teach the truth.

Both 5% and the Nation of Islam were fairly popular among rappers in the late 80s and 90s. They still might be in their personal lives, for all I know, but I don’t hear the concepts (or samples of Farrakhan or stuff like that) mentioned in rap nearly as often as I once did.

Did they believe it? I guess so. But I’d say in general that it was part of the Afrocentric movement that was popular in the black community at the time, and which influenced rap. Both religions (though off-shoots of Islam) were seen as authentically black religions/movements, so I’m sure that carried a certain amount of appeal.

I’ve never heard of this bunch. If Dopers bring in something that there’s a good chance will be obscure to the rest of us, it’d be nice to at least give us a sketch of what it is.

here;s a Wikipedia article on the group, which acknowledges that a lot of rappers are members:


Amok, I know that in the 90s, it was more mainstream. Artists that were breaking out of the underground, like Public Enemy, were teaching about the Nation of Islam, (which is not the same as the Nation of Gods and Earths, or “5 percenters”)

But it is still very much wide spread in hip hop. A rapper like Ghost Face Killa can rap on the topic for bars and bars, and because his slang is so thick, one may not realize it is 5% teachings being laid down.

I mean to say that commercial and more radio friendly 5% music was more popular in the 90s…but it is still alive and well in hip hop.

Fair enough.

I was just looking at the wiki article that Cal linked to. I had forgotten that “the sun, moon, and stars” is most likely a 5% reference (it’s used in their imagery). I know I’ve heard Nas reference that relatively recently, though I’m blanking on the exact song. So I guess that supports your take on it.