Rapper Raz Fresco Shares His Journey into Toronto's Five Percent Nation

We premiere a new video by the Toronto rapper and have him explain what being a Five Percenter means to him.
July 19, 2016, 3:39pm

Photo by Brendan Jessamine

Toronto rapper Raz Fresco's style is inspired by classic 90s New York rap like Wu-Tang Clan, and he also shares their old allegiance to the philosophies of the Five-Percent Nation. It's most explicit in his song "Godbody" and we're premiering the video for the song with an essay by Raz detailing how he came into the Nation and what he feels its value is today.

The name "Five-Percent Nation" comes from the notion that 85 percent of the people on planet Earth have been made dumb, deaf and blind. 10 percent of the planet are the rich blood-suckers of the poor who know the true reality of God but teach the 85% that there is a “mystery god” in the sky to pacify and control them. Only 5 percent are the righteous teachers who teach that God is true and living and not a mystery but shown and proven through man.

In school, I never learned that black people were the fathers and mothers of civilization and started things like mathematics, astrology, reading, and writing. I’m no conspiracy theorist but I’m pretty sure these things were kept away from me purposely. When I learned about who I truly was this gave me pride in myself and with truth comes power. I put that truth in a song to lead some of my people back to that same truth without trying to beat them over the head with it. If I just big up myself like "Yo, it’s the godbody" in a cool way, I felt like a kid would be more likely to adapt the lingo and eventually come across the meaning, just like how I did. From there the power of truth would be in his or her hands.

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The meaning of “Godbody” is simple. It means that you see God when you look at the body of man and that there is no mystery god in the sky. The original man is God. It’s the same thing Jay Z meant on “Heaven” when he said: "Arm, Leg, Leg, Arm, Head / this is godbody." I made this track to be one of the more uptempo joints on the Pablo Frescobar album. At first, I didn’t intentionally make it to be some type of Five Percent anthem, per se. The way I wrote the verses ended up forcing me to change the hook I previously had. Since I was using a lot of slang from the Nation in my first verse I ended up just going with “godbody” for the hook.

“Godbody," “cipher,” and “word is bond” are common phrases which through hip-hop have burrowed their way into everyday slang. Some other dope songs that utilize Five-Percent slang are Nas’ “Watch Dem Niggas”, Rakim’s “Move the Crowd”, Jay Electronica’s “Exhibit C”, and Joey Badass’ “95 Til Infinity.” Before I joined the Nation I was using certain slang that comes from the Gods. After I learned the significance of our very long struggle as a people I didn’t want to be one of the rappers that borrowed Five Percent slang terms to sound cool but didn’t actually study the lessons meant to help better my people. It’s way too many rappers like that already.

I met Born King, my educator within the Five-Percent Nation in 2014 and was introduced to the Nation properly through him. However, I didn’t just join right away. Born King and I remained in contact and I kept studying and learning myself. I eventually realized the Five-Percent Nation of Gods and Earths had the same objectives that I had in mind. The fact that you had to internalize your lessons and thousands of years of history and science was something I saw as key to me being a dope MC and being able to drop it in my bars cleverly for kids to soak up. Since its inception, the focus of the Nation has always been reaching the youth. As an MC I was trying to drop these facts for the youth and not just memorize them but be able to understand the timeline of history as clearly as I could and as far back as I could possibly go. These two things are what made me hit up Born King like, “Yo God, I’m trying to start my lessons”

My stage name as an artist is Raz Fresco but my righteous name within the Five-Percent Nation is "I Power Allah." I wasn't born into the Nation and that name was not given to me. Rather, I had to "draw it up" or earn it myself. With the Gods, you have to show and prove everything you say without a shadow of a doubt before advancing in your lessons. It was the exact opposite of my church experience where all you needed was blind faith. The process of becoming a Five Percenter is a relationship you develop with your educator and yourself.

The journey into the Nation is also a transformative process that changes the way you process information and act. It’s the process of making strong men and women who will empower themselves and their communities by sparking positive change and teaching the truth about life. In ancient cultures, there was always this notion of information being passed down from mouth to ear, so the lessons are given in that same way. Many great men have come and gone and one common thread that binds them all is their ability to use and live by the truth. When I look back at a person like Malcolm X or Marcus Garvey, it occurs to me that they were powerful only because the truth flowed through them. I wanted that truth and to wield it like a sword. I wanted to be able to talk clearly about my history with pride and get black people back into knowing themselves.

Raz Fresco is a hip-hop artist from Toronto. Follow him on Twitter.