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date: 05 April 2020

Five Percenter Raplocked

  • Felicia M. Miyakawa


Rap genre. The term refers to rap music created and/or performed by members of the Five Percent Nation (FPN, also known as the Nation of Gods and Earths). The FPN was founded in 1964 by former Nation of Islam student minister Clarence 13X, known to the FPN as Father Allah. FPN rappers often use their lyrics to share theological doctrine, sometimes quoting from lessons learned during their spiritual training. The name “Five Percent Nation” comes from a catechism lesson in which Five Percenters are taught that they—a small percentage of the population—have a duty to teach civilization and righteousness to those without “knowledge of self,” the ultimate level of enlightenment within this Gnostic worldview. Prominent themes of Five Percenter rap include “mathematics” (elaborate number play based on their theology), science, Black Nationalism, Pan-Africanism, Kemetic history, Islamic doctrine, and community uplift. These themes appear not only in lyrical content, but also in album organization, album art, and the use of particular samples. Common FPN phrases, such as “word is bond” have become part of mainstream hip-hop slang....

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