Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Everything I need to know about Islam I learned from 'Wu Tang Forever'

"Wu Tang is for the children."

That's what Old Dirty Bastard said during the 1998 Grammy Awards after he walked onstage (uninvited) during Shawn Colvin's acceptance speech for Song of the Year ("Sunny Came Home").

It turns out that ODB's diatribe, like so many of his spitfire verses, may have been more prophetic than we realized at the time.

For instance, look at Wu Tang Forever the sprawling double-disc from 1997. An epic, nearly two-hour, classic off almost no filler, all the main players (including Masta Killa, Cappadonna, even Shyheim) involved, and career-defining beats by the RZA.

So much can be written about this album. It could fill a 33 1/3 book. But let's start with the intro.

The free association sermon by Popa Wu and Uncle Pete is not only a brief introduction to this Shao Lin masterpiece, but also to the 5 percent doctrine of Islam.

The doctrine goes like this:

85 percent of the race is uncivilized, the sermon goes, came over on the slave ships. They are unworthy of seeing the true meaning of Allah.

10 percent is the elite negro. the exploitative class who tries to keep the 85 percent in their subservient position.

5 percent are the enlightened. The educated. The chosen.

Members of the Nation of Islam are considered the 5 percent, also known as The Nation of Gods and Earths.

Now, 13 years later, what has the Wu Tang taught us?

Does the 5 percent doctrine provide any insight into today's society? Have race relations improved with Obama in the White House?

Can we still refer to Stapleton as a "concentration camp" with "85 percent welfare recipients"?

If only ODB were still around.

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