AFRICA (Previously Unreleased)SWIFTNESS (Previously Unreleased)STYLE WARS
Lakim ShabazzThe Ol' School Flava Of Lakim Shabazz:
Rare & Unreleased Old School Hip Hop '89-'90
Tuff City : 2007[Buy LP]SOMETHING MELLOW BUY HYPE
Priority OneTotal Chaos
Tuff City : 1989[Buy LP]
Tuff City Records recently reissued a bunch of lost classics from its vault, including cult favorites from Priority One and Lakim Shabazz. Both rappers had close affiliations with DJ Mark the 45 King and The Flavor Unit, a group that included Queen Latifah, Apache and Chill Rob G.
Shabazz was also a "Five Percenter," a member of the Five Percent Nation aka The Nation of Gods and Earths, an offshoot of the Nation of Islam popular with many edutainers
of the time.
The group was founded in Harlem by a Korean War veteran and martial arts expert named Clarence 13X. Clarence 13X attended Nation of Islam Temple Number Seven, where Brother Malcolm was minister, in the early '60s. I've always thought of the NOI as a sort of poor man's Scientology. It's a crude comparison, but at their heart, both involve the same kind of wacky bargain: we'll clean you up, give you focus, give you self-determination, as long as you just quietly believe the thing about the aliens - the aliens floating either in your blood, or above your head in a UFO called the "Motherplane," depending on your faith. It's a pretty decent trade, especially if you are an ex-con or strung out hooker.
But I guess the Motherplane wasn't wacky enough for Clarence 13X. He had some fundamental disagreements with the NOI - like with that thing where he reckoned he was God
while they didn't - and he was excommunicated.
Rappers began embracing the group's teachings decades later. They were obviously drawn to the movement's black power energy, its Mecca-centric histories, and of course the opportunity to use the word "Supreme"
a lot and wear cheap homemade pharaohwear
So it's somewhat amazing when I'm checking wikipedia, to find that the Five Percenters actually received support from New York's Republican City Hall:The Five Percenters established a headquarters in the Harlem section of Manhattan. The Allah School in Mecca, previously known as Allah's Street Academy, was founded in 1966 through the Urban League with the help of the Republican mayor of New York, John Lindsay. The agreement reached between Clarence and the Urban League was a payment of one dollar a day... The first programs instituted in the school contained 10 to 30 kids, certified teachers, and three street workers. Graduates of the street academy would transfer to an academy of transition and then on to college preparatory school. Clarence disagreed with the program originally instituted at the Urban League, and so the curriculum was later turned over to him to manage, while the daily programs switched to math, English, and self defense.
Another fun factoid:
The rap expression "G" comes originally from Five Percenters, short for "God." Most people think it came from "Gangsta." I, sadly, thought it came from the broadway slang of Damon Runyon.
As far as Five Percent rappers go, Lakim Shabazz is pretty thoughtful. I'm not sure why the track "Africa" was never released. It's easily one of his best, with a beat that chugs and rattles like an old subway train. Shabazz doesn't rhyme on top of it, so much as inside and through it, like a kid hustling between the moving cars.