Jay Z is at the center of controversy once again as the public continues to take guesses at why the hip-hop mogul has been sporting a Five Percent Nation chain around his neck.
At the Brooklyn Nets game on April 1, Jay Z made a rather interesting fashion statement.
The large gold medallion hanging around the “Tom Ford” rapper’s neck showcased the symbol for The Five Percent Nation – an American organization founded in 1964 after a former member of the Nation of Islam decided to split from the organization.
Some of the ideologies of The Five Percent Nation had some people asking whether Jay Z is sending a racially charged message.
The Five Percent Nation ideology centers around the idea that the Christian God is nothing more than a mythological concept created to control the masses. It also teaches that Asiatic Black people are the original people of the planet, and therefore they are the fathers and mothers of civilization.
According to Hip Hop Wired, the name “Five Percent Nation” comes from the idea that “85 percent of the population lack ‘knowledge of self,” while 10 percent have this said knowledge and hide it from the larger group.” The remaining 5 percent of the population are believed to be truly enlightened and determined to help disseminate the truth to others.
So does this mean Jay Z is some radical racist? Not quite.
There are still several other possible explanations although Jay Z has not spoken publicly about the chain or the organization.
It isn’t unusual for powerful and sometimes religious symbols to be demoted to little more than fashion trends in the hip-hop community.
Crosses, the eye of Horus and even the Confederate flag have all been incorporated meaninglessly into fashion in recent years – all coming with their share of controversy.
Wearing the chain without being a member of the organization could also be another way Jay Z is actually bashing organized religions.
In his song “Heaven,” Jay Z raps: “Question religion question it all, question existence until them questions are solved. I’m secular tell the hecklers settle down, your religion creates division like my Maybach partition.”
When he joined Jay Electronica on his “We Made It” freestyle, the rapper made more references to The Five Percent Nation.
“I’m God, G is the seventh letter made,” he raps. “So when my arms and feet shackled I still get paid/ All praises due, I’m ready to chase the Yakub back into caves.”
RapGenius.com explains that according to the Nation of Islam, Yakub was the creator of the “race of devils” and after “being exiled from Mecca, the new race lived in caves” before they escaped and enslaved the Black population.
Overall, the response to the medallion seems to be a bit of an overreaction considering Jay Z has always referenced several religious ideologies in his music throughout time.
Meanwhile, a representative of The Five Percent Nation made it clear that Jay Z is “not an active member” and condemns the rapper for wearing the regalia when he hasn’t “totally subscribed to the life.”