Why I Am a Five Percenter

October 3, 2011

Why I Am a Five Percenter

by Michael Muhammad Knight

​​Why I Am a Five Percenter is an insider view of the community whose ideas and symbols influenced the rise of hip-hop.


The Five Percenters are a movement that began as a breakaway sect from the Nation of Islam in 1960s Harlem. References to Five Percent language and ideas are found in the lyrics of wide-ranging artists, such as Nas, Rakim, the Wu-Tang Clan, and Jay-Z.


Encoded within Five Percent culture is a profound critique of organized religion, from which the movement derives its name: Only Five Percent can act as "poor righteous teachers" against the evil Ten Percent, the power structure which uses religion to deceive the Eighty-Five Percent, the "deaf, dumb, and blind" masses.


- adapted and revised from publisher


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