What do Erykah Badu, LL Cool J and Jay-Z have in common? The Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths. Started by a former member of the Nation of Islam in 1964, The Five Percent Nation has always had close ties with the hip-hop world and these celebrities have all been — or at least been rumored to be — members. You won’t believe some of the people on this list.
When baller Carmelo Anthony was spotted on Instagram wearing his Five Percenter chain, he had nothing to say for the record about his religious beliefs. But famous Five Percenter Lord Jamar went on Huffington Post Live to say, “From what I understand is in Carmelo’s case, he actually has some dealings with the Five Percent Nation. His brother is within the Five Percent Nation and he [Anthony] may study lessons.”
Do you know where your Baduizms come from? Most of the lyrics to “On and On” are a direct reference to ciphers, principals and the belief that black people are God:
If we were made in his image/ Then call us by our names/ Most intellects do not believe in god/ But they fear us just the same.
She’s even recommended books about The Five Percent Nation “for everyone who wants to expand in some kind of way their consciousness.”
There have been rumors for years that one or more of The Roots are Five Percenters. Black Thought’s name comes up the most frequently, but no one has confirmed or denied the rumor. We wonder what Jimmy Fallon would think about that.
LL Cool J
In his autobiography I Make My Own Rules, LL Cool J said that he joined the Five Percent Nation in school. He took the name “Lord Supreme Shalik,” but says he and his friends never connected with the philosophical side of being a Five Percenter: “We were just using the Five Percenter label as a shield to do our dirty work – fighting and eventually robbing.”
The Woo Hah! rapper has no problem talking about his affiliation with the Five Percent nation. Check out his interview with Hard Knock TV on the origin of The Five Percent Nation and why they don’t all think that all white people are the devil.
When even USA Today has heard about your affiliation with the Five Percenters, it’s more likely than not that it’s true. But Nas has never publicly confirmed that he is a Five Percenter so we’ll hold our verdict until he fesses up.
Jay-Z has frequently been spotted rocking his Five Percent Nation chain. He hasn’t admitted to being a member of the group, but the signs are hard to deny.
In his song Heaven, he even raps the Five Percent Nation’s acronym for Allah: “Arm, leg, leg, arm, head – this is God body/Knowledge, wisdom, freedom, understanding, we just want our equality.”
Remember all that controversy Kanye stirred up in the BBC Interview where he said “I am a God?”. One of the more low-key rumors is that this was Kanye’s way of coming out as one of the Five Percent who believe that the black man is the embodiment of God. Although more people think his claim is more about his super-sized ego than his religious beliefs.
All Ten Members of the Wu-Tang Clan
That’s a lot of people, even more if you factor in their influence on hip-hop. While most of the members have remained Five Percenters during their long careers, Ghostface Killah and Raekwon are rumored to have turned to more mainstream Sunni Islam at some point.
Famous Five Percenters Brand Nubian filmed their music video Wake Up in front of the Five Percenter Headquarters on 126th street in Harlem. They also included a black man in white face as the devil complete with horns. That move got them banned from MTV for a while.
Is Jay Electronica rapping proof that at least not all Five Percenters are racist? The only thing more famous than his rap career and his Five Percenter status is his relationship with heiress Kate Rothschild.
Rakim introduced the Five Percent nation to MTV in 1987 when his “Move the Crowd” video featured the Five Percent Universal Flag.
The Queen was a Five Percenter at one point in time, but said her feminist ideals eventually led her away from the group.
Image Source: Profile Records
Poor Righteous Teachers
The Poor Righteous Teachers take their name from a Five Percent Lesson: “Who are the Five Percent of this planet earth? They are the poor righteous teachers, people who are all wise and know who the true living god is, who teach that the almighty true and living god is the black man from Asia.”