Must God Be a Boogie Man

 A syllogism is coming to me: If the flatted fifth is a tonal symbol of blackness (as is suggested in the words and music of Mitchell, Breau, Greenwich, Davis, heavy metal and hip hop artists), and if some artists mentioned above portray their musical vision of the deity with melodic flatted fifths (as in Sonny Greenwich’s Black Beauty) or a harmonic flat five substitution (as in Breau’s Five O’Clock Bells), therefore…(this third proposition came to me later) for these artists God must be a boogie man!

A second syllogism is coming to me.  “In a lot of ways, hip-hop is the Five Percent.”  RZA   “Hip hop is in many ways the same as Bebop, because it was renegade-type music.”  Quincy Jones  If hip hop is in a lot of ways identified with Five Percenter notions of black supremacy, and if hip hop is in many ways the same as bebop, therefore bebop may be identified with black supremacy.  “The flatted fifth became the most important interval of bebop.”  “Bebop is the foundation of modern jazz.”  J.E. Berendt  Therefore modern jazz may also be identified with black supremacy.

In a Winnipeg Free Press article titled “CMHR rejects ‘genocide’ for native policies” and dated Friday, July 26, 2013, Mary Agnes Welch writes: “Broader, more cultural definitions of genocide, which look at how language, institutions, religion and family ties were eradicated, are now widely accepted.  ‘What matters in genocide is not that it’s a lot of killing,’ said University of Manitoba sociology Prof. Andrew Woolford.  ‘What matters is that it’s an assault against a group, on their ability to persist as a group.'” 

Could forms of black music constitute expressions of cultural genocide?  Cultural genocide and fascism are not unique to white people.  The Rastafarianism of reggae music has roots in the fascism of Marcus Garvey.  Paul Gilroy: “According to the historian J.A. Rogers, in a 1937 interview quoted in what has become a celebrated passage from the second volume of The World’s Great Men of Color, Garvey himself compared his organization’s activities to those of Hitler and Mussolini: ‘We were the first Fascists.  We had disciplined men, women, and children in training for the liberation of Africa.  The black masses saw that in this extreme nationalism lay their only hope and readily supported it.  Mussolini copied fascism from me but the Negro reactionaries sabotaged it.'”  (Against Race, 232)  Peter Tosh’s song, Black Dignity, is founded on a blues chord; over this chord Tosh admonishes his listeners, “Love him and live.  Hate him and die….Live black, love black, think black – our God is black.”  Tosh may have derived these slogans from Garvey, who counselled Afro-Americans, “Be black, buy black, think black.”  (Speech, 1:25)

The black Islam of hip hop has origins in the genocidal teachings of Louis Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam.   Nathan Glazer: “Elijah Muhammed’s young men remind some people of fascists.” (Beyond the Melting Pot, 83)  bell hooks calls Farrakhan “a fascist.” (Killing Rage, 257)  Farrakhan preaches about “a wheel over your heads….you call it UFO’s, but they’re not unidentified, they’re identified, and they’re here for the destruction of the United States of America [standing ovation].” (1:34:20-1:35:02)  This wheel only destroys whites.  Eddie Murphy satirizes this sort of racial genocide in a song called Kill the White People.  

Mattias Gardell: “The hip-hop movement’s role in popularizing the message of black militant Islam cannot be overestimated.  What reggae was to the expansion of the Rastafarian movement in the 1970s, so hip-hop is to the spread of black Islam in the 1980s and 1990s. Teenagers dance into black consciousness and internalize the NOI creed through hip-hop albums.  The Defiant Giants emphasize that hip-hop is ‘God’s music,’ based on the teachings of Elijah Muhammad and the inspiration of Louis Farrakhan, saying that they ‘rap strictly for the revolution and resurrection of our people.’  K-Solo raps that he is ‘a messenger from a Muslim Empire / here to let you know what Allah requires,’ urging blacks to ‘listen to Big Brother Farrakhan.’  Shockin’ Shawn of the Skinny Boys says that they ‘want to conquer [the black youth] by the thousands, by the millions.  We want our music to have so much of an impact that the youth will run to the Nation.’  Rap lyrics frequently, though not always explicitly, allude to NOI teachings and use code words or metaphors unintelligible to those unfamiliar [295] with black Islamic beliefs, like ‘dead niggaz’ (non-Muslim blacks), ‘Yacub’s crew’ (whites), or ‘cave bitch’ (white female).  Expressing thanks and support for the Nation of Islam and Louis Farrakhan has become almost standard practice on the rap albums, and long quotations from NOI literature are often included in the lyrics or in the background shout-outs.” (In the Name of Elijah Muhammad, 295-96) 

Gardell, writing in 1996: “Until the 1960s, black youths generally regarded whites as role models and sought to bend nature to comply with their wishes, as, for example, when they used congolene to straighten their hair.  One now can observe a reverse tendency, in which white youths look to blacks for role models.  Today you might find white people wearing African medallions, X-marked clothing, and dreadlocks….This new trend means that black Muslim raptivists are selling tens of thousands of albums to white fans who dance to their own destruction.”  (In the Name, 300)

Black Aesthetics, Black Power, Black God

Steve Waksman describes the black aesthetic as “the cultural movement that paralleled the drive toward political autonomy expressed by Black Power.  Adhering to the black aesthetic involved accepting the maxim ‘black is beautiful’ as the first step toward breaking away from white European aesthetic standards that had so long associated blackness with ugliness, depravity, and evil.  Aesthetics were transfigured into a battleground in which black and white artists struggled over control of the images that shaped the collective racial consciousness.  Larry Neal offered a striking articulation of this sensibility in his essay on the Black Arts Movement. ‘The motive behind the black aesthetic is the destruction of the white thing, the destruction of white ideas, and white ways of looking at the world.  The new aesthetic is mostly predicated on an Ethics which asks the question: [173] whose vision of the world is finally more meaningful, ours or the white oppressors?  What is truth.  Or, more precisely, whose truth shall we express, that of the oppressed or of the oppressors?…[The black aesthetic] comes to stand for the collective conscious and unconscious of Black America – the real impulse in back of the Black Power movement, which is the will toward self-determination and nationhood, a radical reordering of the nature and function of both art and the artist.'” (Instruments of Desire, 173)  Waksman describes “the adherents of the Black Aesthetic movement” of the sixties as those “whose efforts to define a separate black cultural identity continue to resonate within contemporary culture and politics.” (Instruments, 173)  James Baldwin: “Black has become a beautiful color – not because it is loved but because it is feared.” (The Fire Next Time, 91)  

Huey Newton: “Another expression that helped to raise Black people’s consciousness is ‘All Power to the People.’  An expression that has meaning on several levels – political, economic, and metaphysical.” (166)  “In the metaphysical sense we based the expression ‘All Power to the People’ on the idea of man as God.  I have no other God but man, and I firmly believe that man is the highest or chief good.  If you are obligated to be true and honest to anyone, it is to your God, and if each man is God, then you must be true to him.  If you believe that man is the ultimate being, then you will act according to your belief.  Your attitude and behaviour toward man is a kind of religion in itself, with high standards of responsibility….The phrase ‘All Power to the People’ was meant to…convince Black people that their rewards were due in the present, that it was in their power to create a Promised Land here and [168] now.  The Black Panthers have never intended to turn Black people away from religion.  We want to encourage them to change their consciousness of themselves and to be less accepting of the white man’s version of God – the God of the downtrodden, the weak, and the undeserving.  We want them to see themselves as the called, the chosen, and the salt of the earth.” (Revolutionary Suicide, 168-9)

“I have arrived at my understanding of what is meant by God…through philosphy, logic and semantics.  My opinion is that the term ‘God’ belongs to the realm of concepts, that it is dependent upon man for its existence.  If God does not exist unless man exists, then man must be here to produce God.  It logically follows, then, that man created God, and if the creator is greater than that which is created, then we must hold that man is the highest good….I think that when man clings to the idea of a God, whom he has created and placed in the heavens, he actually reduces himself and his own potential.  The more he attributes to God, the more inferior he becomes, the less responsible for his own destiny.  He says to God, ‘I am weak but thou art mighty,’ and therefore accepts things as they are, content to leave the running of the world to a supernatural force greater than himself.  This attitude embodies a kind of fatalism, which is inimical to growth and change.  On the other hand, the greater man becomes, the less his God will be.” (169)  “Much of the Bible is madness.  I cannot accept, for ex[169]ample, the notion of divine law and responsibility to ‘God.’  As far as I am concerned, if men are responsible beings, they ought to be responsible to each other.  And so, when we say ‘All Power to the People,’ we mean to convey a sense of deep respect and love for the people, and the idea that the people deserve complete truth and honesty.  The judgement of history is the judgement of the people.  That is the motivating and controlling idea of our very existence.”  (169-70)

The Black Panther Party seems to be based on the notion that black men are gods, in the image of a two-headed African deity.  The slogan All Power to the People seems to mean all power to black men.  This notion recalls the character named God in the film In Too Deep.  

Peter Tosh’s song, Black Dignity, is founded on a blues chord; over this chord Tosh admonishes his listeners, “Love him and live.  Hate him and die….Live black, love black, think black – our God is black.”  Tosh may have derived these slogans from Marcus Garvey, who counselled Afro-Americans, “Be black, buy black, think black.”  (Speech, 1:25)

These sentiments have some affinity with the ideas of Afro-American theologian James Cone.  In his 1970 book, A Black Theology of Liberation, Cone advanced the notion of a deity that sided with blacks, and against whites: “‘Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the Black community.  If God is not for us and against White people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him.  The task of Black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the Black community.'”  (from Is God, 72)  According to William R. Jones, “these statements clearly indicate that Cone is not only aware of the issue of divine racism, but even more important, he regards it as an unavoidable issue for black theology.” (72)  

Jones cites Cone: “Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy.  [100]  What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of Black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal.  Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.’  It would be necessary to reject God’s love, because to permit oppression to remain would signify that God’s nature is not to be for the oppressed; rather, it would reveal that God is a God of racism.  Thus Cone’s rejection of vicarious suffering, based on God’s nature and purpose, requires that he substantiate the definitive liberation event for blacks.”  (Jones, 100-101)

Guitarist Michael Bloomfield called Greenwich “the Coltrane of guitar players.”  A reviewer refers to “Greenwich’s vision of a guitar-based version of the John Coltrane Quartet.”  Greenwich suggests an analogy between black aesthetics and diminished harmony when playing a flatted fifth relative to the fundamental at 2:32 of the opening statement of the melody of his song Black Beauty.  The first flatted fifth over the fundamental chord of A- occurs at 2:43, quickly followed by a flatted fifth, B, relative to the second chord of this song, F, at 2:46; in fact this F chord is an F7b5, for the bassist plays a two note line of F and B over this chord throughout the song.  

At 3:10 Greenwich begins to play what Branford Marsalis calls Coltrane’s “blues lick” from A Love Supreme; from 6:50-7:20 he plays this “blues lick” in several positions, as Coltrane did in his Acknowledgement, from A Love Supreme.  Greenwich plays the “lick” over seven root notes: A, D, Bb, Eb, B, E, and Db.  The three note riff over these seven key centers covers all of the notes in the chromatic scale.  At one point Coltrane plays the four note riff [of three different notes] thirty seven times, in different keys.  Kahn notes Lewis Porter’s interpretation: “‘he’s telling us God is everywhere – in every register, in every key.'” (102)  Kahn states: “To Dave Liebman, the key-hopping section portends the final, experimental extreme of Coltrane’s career: ‘It’s really looking towards what he’s about to go into, which is very, very free and non-key-centered improvisation.  The way he takes that ‘a love supreme’ motif, and transposes it through all the keys over the ostinatto pattern that Jimmy is playing, is a real study.'” (103)  Therefore, Greenwich’s Coltranean citation in his Black Beauty indicates that he is making a musical statement of black theology, as well as black aesthetics.  This indication is supported by Greenwich’s statement, “I play [music] to awake[n] people spiritually – that’s the only reason.”  From 5:30-53 Greenwich plays a diminished scale over the song’s two chords.  The prominence of flatted fifths in Greenwich’s Black Beauty suggests his rejection of traditional negative associations of this interval.  The Canadian Encyclodpedia mentions Greenwich’s “pursuit of a personal religion similar to pantheism.”

Hip Hop

Paul Gilroy refers to “playful affirmations of the insubordinate spirit which ties this radical form [hip hop] to one important definition of blackness.”  (104)  According to Naeem Mohaiemen, “Islam as a cultural force in hip-hop is severely under-documented.  In the most recent oversight, Jeff Chang’s exhaustive hip-hop history Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop (Picador, 2005) pays only fleeting attention to the Muslim connection.  Elsewhere in mainstream media, the Muslim connection is never spoken aloud, even in the middle of thorough analysis and journalism.”  (Fear of a Muslim Planet: The Islamic Roots of Hip-Hop, Sound Unbound, 313)  

Louis Armstrong’s pianist plays a flatted fifth in a diminished riff repeatedly in Go Down Moses, making the music a parody of the lyrics.  Recalling producer Bob Ezrin’s assertion that “there is something very sexual about the tritone,” Armstrong’s version, as it is filled with tritones from his pianist, could be regarded as a forerunner of the musical Let My People Come.  However, Louis Farrakhan interprets this negro spiritual as a legitimate allegory of contemporary blacks in white America from 1:15:30-1:17:00 of his speech, The Dumbing Down of The American People.  From 1:22:58-1:23:47 Farrakhan represents the American ‘pharaoh’ as saying, “We’re gonna dumb them down real good.  And then we’re going to make them so sexually depraved that we’ll use their natural inclination to sex to be a means of killing them….We’ll allow the degenerate language and filth to be put on the radio.”  Farrakhan believes that this supposed plot will bring divine judgement on white America in the form of “a wheel over your heads….you call it UFO’s, but they’re not unidentified, they’re identified, and they’re here for the destruction of the United States of America [standing ovation].” (1:34:20-1:35:02)

Farrakhan was the keynote speaker at the Million Man March in Washington, D.C., the organizers of which “sought to use the event as a publicity campaign aimed at combating what they perceived as the negative racial stereotypes in the American media and in popular culture.”  Farrakhan, also a musician, spoke of human diminishment in the context of race to Afro-Americans (The Dumbing Down of the American People, 40:10-33): “Human beings with great gifts and skills diminished.  You feed white racism.  You make white people continue in the sickness of white supremacy by your silly actions.”  A similar statement by Farrakhan is cited by Entman and Rojecki: “‘Look beloved, you contribute to the White man’s racism.  You contribute to their calling you nigger and thinking you’re an inferior person, because you don’t do anything in the way of producing.'” (The Black Image in the White Mind, 132)

Miyakawa describes the theology of Five Percenters: “For Five Percenters submission to Allah has no meaning since each (black) man is Allah incarnate….Five Percenters see Islam as a flexible way of life, a mode of encountering the world in their own self-deified orbit.” (30)  Miyakawa quotes Lord Jamar of the rap group Brand Nubian: “’in the Five Percent Nation, each man is the sole controller of his own universe.  If you’re the god of your universe, you set up your own laws.’” (31)  Five Percenters interpret Allah as an acronym for Arm, Leg, Leg, Arm, Head and Islam as an acronym for I, Self, Lord, and, Master.  This self-centered theology implies that the rest of humanity ought to submit to black males, which may account for the presence of discordant tonal structures in rap songs.  Miyawaka notes: “The common phrase of the 1990s, ‘What up, G?’ originally meant not ‘What up, gangsta?’ as is commonly assumed, but ‘What up, God?’ a greeting that circulated first among Five Percenters and later in hip-hop culture at large.” (41)  Knight: “While black men do not practice the religion of Islam (submission) since ‘God can’t submit to God,’ Earths [black women] are often considered to be Muslim because they do submit to Allah – in the form of the black man….Because three quarters of the earth is covered by water, Earths today are taught to keep three fourths of their bodies covered at all times.” (Five, 215)  

At :58 of Miss Ghetto rapper Wise Intelligent says: “I thought that maybe I could show them that other way G
 of Gods and Earths, resurrected through mental birth, from death to life, teaching niggas of every type the wrongs and rights, to put an end to living trife.

  The black man is God.”  The two chords are C minor and G minor; the electric pianist plays a repeated diminished riff.  The diminished piano riff occurs over the lyrical phrases “that other way G” (G is shorthand for God, synonymous with black men in Wise’s theology) and “teaching niggas of every type.” 

Miyakawa: “Rappers associated with the Nation of Islam and the Five Percent Nation are uniquely positioned to spread their spiritual message through music and are [70] encouraged to do so by leaders they respect, such as Minister Louis Farrakhan.  Considering themselves Black Muslim missionaries, Five Percenter rappers use their musical platforms to minister to African American youths who would otherwise have no way to learn ‘knowledge of self.’” (70-1)  Farrakhan spread his message in his song A White Man’s Heaven is a Black Man’s Hell, which he concludes with the words, “Our God has come to give us heaven and take the devil [white people] into hell.”  Brand Nubian’s song Meaning of the 5% features “a recording of a Louis Farrakhan speech set to a sample from Marvin Gaye’s ‘T Stands for Trouble.'”  (119)  Gaye’s song features a melody with a diminished riff (at 1:08 and 1:19) as does Trouble Man.

Gardell cites Sister Souljah: “’if black people kill black people every day, why not take a week and kill white people?’” (299)  Rose cites Sister Souljah: “Rap music has inspired me because….when you hear the tribal beat and the drums, they are the same drums of the African past that draws the community to war.  The drum beats are just faster, because the condition is accelerating so they’ve got to beat faster.  And when your feet are jumping, dancing….it’s the spirit attempting to escape the entrapment.  When you feel the children have gone mad, if you don’t feel it, and when you look at the dances you don’t see it and when you listen to the music and you don’t hear a call, then you missed the jam.”  (Sister Souljah speaking at ‘We Remember Malcolm Day’ held at Abyssynian Baptist Church in Harlem, New York, 21 February 1991.  From Black Noise, 62.)

Evidently the church minister “missed the jam.”  Rose: “Calvin Butts, black minister of the Abyssyinian Baptist Church in Harlem, has gone on a mission to rid the black community of rap music because [183] of its harmful effects on today’s youths.” (Noise, 183-84)  Butts: “I may have more in common with a white man who loves humanity than I do with the black man who thinks that he ought to call all women b’s and hos.” (3:15) 

Richard Shusterman notes that Queen Latifah “insistently commands her listeners, ‘I order you to dance for me.’  For, as Ice-T explains, the rapper ‘won’t be happy till the dancers are wet’ with sweat, ‘out of control’ and wildly ‘possessed’ by the beat, as indeed the captivating rapper should himself be possessed so as to rock his audience with his God-given gift to rhyme….the spiritual ecstasy of divine bodily possession should remind us of Vodun and the metaphysics of African religion to which the aesthetics of Afro-American music has indeed been traced.” (Challenging Conventions in the Fine Art of Rap, That’s the Joint!, 464) 

Mark Dery: “Rap is the musical equivalent of a – forgive the pun – Black Mass.  Satanists invert Christian iconography by hanging the crucifix upside down and reciting the Lord’s Prayer backwards; rappers invert the natural – read ‘European’ – order of things by stripping music of its harmonic content and supplanting it with rhythm, timbre, and boasting, bullying, wisecracking lyrics delivered in a voice that hovers between speech and song.” (Public Enemy, That’s the Joint!, 409)

Rapper King Sun’s song Be Black is based on a four note bass riff: E, G, A, Bb.  E, G, and Bb outline a diminished triad; E and Bb form a tritone.  The first two verses end with the following lines. “I think I should reveal what it is to be black.”  “There’s more to learn on how to be black.”  After diss[miss]ing Oreos in the second verse, King Sun represents himself “As modern day God,” in the third verse.  The final line of this verse, addressed to the singer’s “black sista,” is: “Teach her to be original, and how to be black.”  The chorus consists of a rapper repeating the phrase, “I’m a black man” over what sounds like a blues scale riff of B, Bb, A, G, E – 5, b5, 4, b3, 1.  Assuming that Bb is present in this riff (it is played very quickly) it echoes the diminished bass line, but in reverse order. 

Rappers are being touted as role models.  Chuck D: “There’s a lot of young white guys around the country who are saying, ‘Hey, the type of individual I’d most like to be like is Ice Cube [of Niggas With Attitude] or Run [of Run-D.M.C.]’  That’s what makes it rabble-rousing rebel music.” (Public Enemy, That’s the Joint!, 415)  Chuck D’s observation is endorsed by Quincy Jones.  “Rappers are the best role models we have.  Every rapper I know is clear as chitlins.  They have determination, pride, and hungry, inquisitive minds.  Their word power is growing.  Rap will cross over because 14-year old white kids always need new forms of vitality and rebelliousness.  Right now that’s coming from hip hop.”  (Listen Up, 166)  “I walked by Big Daddy Kane when we were at the heat of our crunch in the album [Back on the Block] – and he’s got his dictionary and his gangster hat on.  There’s a lot of drama with rappers and he’s got his heaviest gangster look going on.” (167)  Big Daddy Kane ends his rap on Jones’ Back on the Block at 3:44 by identifying himself as “an Asiatic descendant, Big Daddy is shocked.  Yo Q[uincy], we back on the block.”  The bass line of the song makes prominent use of the flatted fifth, affirming Jones’ sense of a continuity from bebop to hip hop.

The Five Percenter Nation’s Student Enrollment Lesson no. 1 is as follows: “Who is the Original man?  The original man is the Asiatic Black man; the Maker; the Owner; the Cream of the planet Earth – Father of Civilization, God of the Universe.” (47)  Miyakawa notes that this Lesson “inspires the metaphorical underpinning of Digable Planets’ ‘Dial 7 (Axioms of Creamy Spies).’  Metaphors of ‘cream’ and ‘creamy,’ both referring to ‘the cream of the planet earth’ and thus to members of the black diaspora, run throughout the song.  The first lines of Sara Webb’s sung introduction initiate this metaphor (‘We are the creamy spies, the cream always rises up’) and the last lines of the introduction call for unity among ‘creamy spies’: ‘Hey, we can make life better together, not divided / Universal, original, creamy.’” (53)  This song begins with a D diminished chord, followed by a D minor chord, and then the A minor chord that fills the remainder of the song. 

Brand Nubian’s song Allah and Justice, “a reference to and praise of Clarence 13X (Allah)”(56), features a continuous diminished riff from the pianist played over D minor and G7.  Yurikawa notes that “the lyrics of ‘Allah and Justice,’ with a different but clearly related melody, constitute the Five Percent Nation’s anthem, a song collectively sung during Five Percenter gatherings.” (119)  Miyakawa is of the opinion that the efficacy of Brand Nubian’s preaching on the theologically inspired tracks from their second album, In God We Trust, “must be weighed against other songs from the album, such as their misogynistic ‘Steal Ya Ho’, ‘ homophobic ‘Punks Jump Up to Get Beat Down,’ and the violent ‘Pass the Gat’ and ‘Black and Blue.’  Ultimately, fans must be left with the sense that Brand Nubian is not always primarily concerned with spreading the Five Percent gospel.” (131)

Brand Nubian’s song Aint No Mystery features a recurrent guitar riff of D, Ab, B, Ab, and F#.  This riff outlines a diminished triad of Ab, B, and D, with Ab and D forming a tritone.  The lyrics reject a theology of mystery.  “Preacher you could never be my teacher, dealing lies and deceit for some brothers from the street.  Know that the Black Man is God (the Black Man’s God).  There is no mystery.  It ain’t no mystery.  Who is that?  The Supreme Black Man, that’s who!  Hoo, that’s the man!  It ain’t no mystery.  First soul, black like coal, the Original One, with the power of the sun.  Allah’s God, always has been, always will be.  Never could be a fucking mystery.  But you pray for Jehovah to come.  That’ll be the day when you leave the slum.  Until that time, you just keep eating swine, drinkin’ cheap wine on the welfare line.  Who’s the clown that didn’t paint Jesus brown?  Everybody knows the man was original.”  In the theology of black Islam original refers to a member of the divine black race.  Rabbi David Kasher writes of hip-hop’s God-complex.

Lakim Shabazz’s song The Lost Tribe of Shabazz begins with a bass line of E, D, E, and F#, which seems to establish E as the key center.  The song also begins and ends with a tritone of E and Bb from a sample of a piped instrument.  A saxophone riff of a diminished riff of E, Eb, Db, and Bb coincides with the phrase “this really bothers me,” at :53, and “lost tribe of Shabazz,” at 1:19.  At 1:20 the piped tritone reenters with the twice repeated chorus “our people will survive America.”  The diminished saxophone riff is also repeated twice, the second time coinciding with the words “will survive.”  At 1:50 the diminished sax riff coincides with the words, “tricknology fools ya.”  The diminished sax riff is again repeated twice during the chorus, the second time coinciding with the words, “will survive,” at 2:29.  At 2:52 the sax riff coincides with the phrase “these companies would lose.”  At 3:35 the third statement of the chorus, “our people will survive America,” coincides with the third occurrence of the piped tritone riff.  At 4:07 the diminished sax riff reenters coinciding with the phrase “will survive,” as at 4:12.  At :18 and 3:45 a second sax riff is played, outlining an A7 chord; however, this riff concludes with a diminished phrase of Eb, D, and C, with a final A note implied. 

The tonality employed in The Lost Tribe of Shabazz reinforces the lost quality of this ‘tribe.’  The bass line suggests a key center of E.  The diminished sax riff suggests a key center of Bb.  The piped tritone alternates between both centers.  The blues sax riff suggests a key center of A7.  In the final verse Lakim Shabazz pronounces his hatred for “oreos.”  The Urban Dictionary defines this term as “A[n] insulting termed often used by blacks to denigrate other blacks as ‘Black on the outside, white on the inside.’  White on the inside meaning anything from speaking proper english, getting good grades, liking music that isn’t hip hop, rap or R&B and having a diverse group of friends.”  

The negative evaluation of oreos by rappers contrasts with the positive associations of this concept in the past.  In the late eighteenth century English poet William Blake wrote The Little Black Boy, who states, “I am black, but oh, my soul is white.”  In the early twentieth century Afro-American pianist Fats Waller wrote Black and Blue, with the phrase, “I’m white inside.”  The Five Percenters’ association of the cream in oreo cookies with white culture seems to contradict their association of the cream used in hot beverages with black people.  Breau’s version of Tyner’s Ebony Queen could be called Oreo Queen as it begins and ends in Tyner’s ‘dark’ minor mode, yet modulates to an ethereal and ‘bright’ major modality in the middle.  

The lost quality of The Tribe of Shabazz also characterizes GZA’s song Swordsman.  The bass line, F, D, and C, seems to have no relation to the eerie synth riff moving from F#, through A and Bb to C, thus outlining a tritone.  The first two notes of the sampled acoustic bass riff in Micranots’ song Culture outline a tritone.  The lyric begins: “This is original, indigenous.  This is all that we know that we have….(die-die-die for they culture) [I-Self Divine]  We dealin’ with sound, filling ya crown with immaculate concepts.”  The discordant tonal structures are not “original, indigenous,” or “immaculate.”

Paul Gilroy associates hip hop with what he describes as “revolutionary conservatism….in a gloomy presentation of black humanity composed of limited creatures who require tradition, pedagogy, and organization.  This seems to go hand in hand with a fascistic fear and contempt of the masses.  Ice Cube has reported this revealing conversation with his sometime mentor Minister Louis Farrakhan: ‘Mentally he told me, the people are babies.  They are addicted to sex and violence.  So if you’ve got medicine to give them, then put the medicine inside some soda so they get both and it won’t be hard for them to digest.'”  (Against Race, 206) 

Fascist Origins of Rastafarianism

The African Orthodox Church was founded by George Alexander McGuire, by the direction of Marcus Garvey, in 1921.  Roi Ottley: “[Garvey] had been a convert to the Roman Catholic faith, and for a time was a devout follower – it was in fact the Saint Mark’s Roman Catholic Church which provided him with his first platform in the United States.  But he felt the logic of an all-black world demanded a Black God….The fundamental outlines of the Roman Catholic Church were borrowed, even to much of its ritual and liturgy, and the Holy Trinity acknowledged – in black, of course.  An impressive service was held at Liberty Hall, and a ‘Special Form of Divine Service’ was performed by His Grace, Archibishop McGuire, for the purpose of ‘canonization’ of the Lord Jesus Christ as ‘the Black Man of Sorrow’ and the Blessed Virgin as a Black Madonna.” 

Garvey “admonished both whites and blacks that the purity of the races was being endangered.  ‘It is the duty of the virtuous and morally pure of both the white and black [192] races,’ he declared, ‘to thoughtfully and actively protect the future of the two peoples, by vigorously opposing the destructive propaganda and vile efforts of the miscegenationists of the white race, and their associates, the hybrids of the Negro race.’  A racial doctrine of this sort brought him the open support of the notorious E.S. Cox, of the Ku Klux Klan, and that of John Powell, of the Anglo-Saxon clubs.” (Black Nationalism, 193)  The St. John Coltrane African Orthodox Church traces its roots to Garvey’s church.

Byron Rushing, in A Note on the Origin of the African Orthodox Church, calls Ottley a “source of misinformation,” and quotes Theodore Draper (The Fantasy of Black Nationalism): “He [Garvey] founded an African Orthodox Church in which God was Black, angels were Black, and Satan was white.  The church held meetings to deify the ‘Black Man of Sorrows’ and canonize the ‘Black Virgin Mary.'”

Paul Gilroy: “According to the historian J.A. Rogers, in a 1937 interview quoted in what has become a celebrated passage from the second volume of The World’s Great Men of Color, Garvey himself compared his organization’s activities to those of Hitler and Mussolini: ‘We were the first Fascists.  We had disciplined men, women, and children in training for the liberation of Africa.  The black masses saw that in this extreme nationalism lay their only hope and readily supported it.  Mussolini copied fascism from me but the Negro reactionaries sabotaged it.'”  (Against Race, 232)  Gilroy: “Common enthusiasm for ritual, pomp, and sacralization of the political sphere led Garvey repeatedly to claim kinship with Hitler and Mussolini and to desribe himself as their inspiration.”  (Race, 330)  

In 1937 Garvey claimed in a London interview with Joel A. Rogers that, as Rogers reported, his Fascism preceded that of Mussolini and Hitler.  “We were the first Fascists,” [Garvey] said, “when we had 100,000 disciplined men, and were training children, Mussolini was still an unknown.  Mussolini copied our Fascism.”  Later the same year he declared that the “UNIA was before Mussolini and Hitler ever were heard of.  Mussolini and Hitler copied the program of the UNIA—aggressive nationalism for the black man in Africa.”