Free Agent: Oakland Rapper Azeem

Current Interview
Azeem Pontificates on Islam and Hip Hop
Old Ass 2003 Interview
Azeem Pontificates on Islam and Hip Hop

...and being an asiatic black man and stuff.


In the beginning.

I grew up in New Jersey. I remember the first time I learned about the
Percent Nation. It was the 4th of July, I was 15 years old, drunk, and
the middle of what was about to be a typical street fight when I heard
myself being waged against…. “I think the God can take him ‘cause
a eighty five percenter.” Fingers pointed at me and heads shook in
disapproval.  The words struck me like a fist. I remember thinking..
an eighty five percenter?” I lost focus and backed out of the fight. It
wasn’t out of fear; it was a combination of their sureness I would
loose and
the label [eighty-five percenter] that confused me. It felt as if the
button on my reactions had been suddenly pressed. Like when someone
yells at
you in a foreign language. They knew something I didn’t. You can’t
what you don’t know.

This incident had tremendous repercussions on me. It forced me to seek
information I would not otherwise have been seeking. The more I found
the more I wanted to know. I still look for answers and doubt I’ll find
all in this life time but I have collected a few and even learned what
eighty-five percenter was along the way. The good thing is once you
what one is, your not considered to be one any more. So lets get

During the early 90’s Hip Hop fans began to hear a strange new lyrical
coming from the East Coast. There was a sub-culture emerging with a
esoteric philosophy making its presence known. Instead of sex and party
songs, (sound familiar?) these new MC’s fashioned themselves as ghetto
men with an urgent message for the people while hinting towards a
brotherhood or creed. A good example was Wise Intelligent from the
Poor Righteous Teachers who hit the scene with rhymes like:
I combine / Two types of rhyme / Tryin’ to reach ya / The knowledge of
myself / Makes me a poor righteous teacher /
Stop and flip the topic/ Islamic-ly I drop it/ My duty be to teach/ So
your pistol in your pocket …

Other Artists spoke of creation and self divinity like ‘Grand Puba from
group Brand Nubians who wrote
I guess I’m like the Verbalizer/ For the fact I’m moving Blackwards/
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!

Suddenly flooded with references of Islam and Asia, most fans never
understood the message in the music. Although members claimed Islam as
religion, The Five Percent definition differed from the Arabic word
means –to submit. For them Islam was an acronym for the words I Self
And Master. Many fans do not know that some of their favorite artists
as Rakim, Wu Tang, X Clan and Digable Planets were all missionaries for
movement known as The Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths. Even
today the
initiated ear can hear their presence and influence. Grammy winner
Badu displays her allegiance when she sings… “If we were made in His
image /
Then call us by our name / Most intellects do not believe in God / But
fear us just the same.”

So what is the Five Percent Nation? Picture a baton race. Every time
baton passes to another racer, it alters slightly but still remains a
The urban Islamic movement in America has been changing and switching
in this way since Jan. 8, 1886 when according to legend there was a
earthquake caused by the birth of the “Prophet” Nobel Drew Ali. Also
as the Holy Sage, Ali founded the Moorish Science Temple in 1913 and
introduced his followers to a system of ceremony known as “rotation”, a
system of government as well as an extremely eloquent and mystical /
historical text known as the Circle Seven.  The books heading reads
Thy Self and Thy Father Allah’ and contains passages regarding the lost
stories of Jesus, the mysteries of duality and unity, holy instructions
life and the spiritual history of man and religion to name a few. A
of Ali’s movement was a man named Elijah Poole Bey who later went on to
become the Honorable Elijah Muhammed Founder of the Nation of Islam

Everyone has heard of Malcolm X the charismatic leader of Temple# 7 who
expelled from the N.O.I. for changing his beliefs. Another celebrated
was also expelled from the same Temple located in Harlem for being what
called a rebel. His name was Clarence 13X A.K.A. “The Father” Founder
of the
Five Percent Nation of Gods and Earths. His brand of I.S.L.A.M.
appealed to
youths in the streets in particular because he told them that they were
who had forgotten who they were and once they regained what he called
“Knowledge Of Self,” they could achieve anything they desired.

The doctrines established by 13X were based upon lessons called “120
of Knowledge” contained in the “Book of Life”. It also contains
information concerning the rotation of planets, the weight of the
measurements of oceans and the distance from here to the sun. These
are memorized and recited or unleashed on those who should make the
in entering a debate with a hardcore member. Their abstract play on
cause most verbal opponents to retreat. This is because 13X also
two cipher systems known as the Supreme Alphabet and the Supreme
Mathematics. Using these coded systems members can communicate about
subject openly without being understood by spies or unenlightened ears.
the so called East Coast West Coast wars were taking place, Five
terminology was often used to mimic and make fun of New York rappers.
made an easy target because there’s just something funny about hearing
people having coded conversations. Anyone doing a parody of a East
rapper or thug always begins with –“Yo God Knowledge this.” Followed by
line of dis-jointed words and ending with “YouKnowWhatImSayin’?”

What does it all mean? Their name comes from one of their lessons
mankind. Clarence 13X believed that the population was made of 85% of
who were mentally blind deaf and dumb, while 10% of the population were
devils who keep 85% of the people ignorant. The remaining 5% were the
righteous teachers who would teach the 85% who they were and raise them
their lost state.

   Like Malcolm X, Clarence 13X was eventually murdered by his enemies.
After his death, there was no heir to the movements throne. Members
based on
the argument that each man was his own savior shunned the idea of a
centralized leadership. The philosophies of the Five Percent Nation
strong roots in the East Coast where Harlem became known as Mecca,
changed to Medina and New Jersey was re-named New Jerusalem. Their flag
consists of a sixteen-facet emblem with the number seven in the center.
facet represents sixteen skin tones or “shades of blackness”. 
According to
Bay Area historian and author Rafiq Bilal the number seven represents
numerous cycles found in nature. In his book Egyptian Sacred Science in
Islam, Mr. Bilal states: “Geometrically, seven possesses the three
possibilities. The three is the triangle, the four is the square and
cycle of seven itself is a circle.” That’s heavy. It would seem that
is only one piece missing from the package that would solidify the
Nation of
Gods and Earths status of nationhood here on planet earth. Sadly, it’s
most important part Sovereign Land. If nothing else is gathered through
reading this article one thing we can all be sure of. Weather in
New Jerusalem, Manhattan or Medina, the ghetto streets are more
philosophical than you think. Word is born.- Ismail Azeem