This man really needs no introduction, hip-hop icon, 1/3 of Brand Nubian, true believer in the hip-hop culture and 5% belief. He’s dropping his solo “The 5 Percent Album” June 27th on Babygrande….
HHS: What’s up man, how are you doing?
Lord Jamar: I’m great, I’m great.
You killed it on Oz and of course the guest shot on Sopranos. We know the album is about to drop, but what have been working on outside of music?
Actually, music has been the main focus. I’m getting ready to work with my man Sadat; he’s got an album coming out. I have some other acting projects in the works, but I don’t really want to speak on those things because I don’t want to jinx them.
I have to ask it, Brand Nubian new album….anytime soon?
I don’t know about anytime soon, but there will definitely another Brand Nubian album. This is definitely not the end; those are my brother’s one for all and all for one. That’s how we roll.
“The 5 Percent Album” drop on June 27th and this is your first solo album, why did you decide to drop a solo?
I always wanted to put one out, we all started as solo artists, but it never really happened. We would start working on a new Brand Nubian album, then I started working with Dead Prez at one time, and acting things would come up. I had songs that that I felt strong about, but I never had full body of work that I thought was the bomb until now.
How long did the album actually take?
The album took about a year to complete.
The new album is called “The 5 Percent Album”, to those that don’t know explain what exactly 5% is and why you themed your album after that.
5% is a culture, it’s not a religion, it’s a way of life, it’s like a reeducation from certain things we have been taught. The 5% represents the population of the planet earth that knows the truth and have knowledge of themselves. 85% have no knowledge of themselves and are easily influenced by the 10% who have knowledge but keep it from the 85% in order to be the bloodsuckers of the poor. The 5% are the ones that strive to teach the 85%. That’s what I have been doing since I got in the game.
Where would one to go to learn about the 5%?
There are things on the web and various schools in different cities. The first one is actually here in Harlem at 2122 7th Avenue in Harlem. That’s a physical place that one could go here in New York, you would have inquire about other cities, but that’s where you could go in New York. We also have schools in Brooklyn and various other places as well.
A lot of people get 5% and the Nation of Islam confused what would you say is the main difference.
They are very closely aligned, the Nation of Islam is more geared to the more mature constituency and the The God’s and Earth’s (5%) are geared more towards the youth, more toward our future leaders. It’s geared towards saving the babies.
The album “The 5 Percent Album” drops on June 27th on Babygrande, what do you hope the fans get from this album?
There are a lot of appearances with Wu-Tang members on the album, “Original”, “Same Girl” and of course the Rza banger “Deep Space” all feature Wu-Tang members. Have you always been in close ties with the Wu or did this come from the Think Differently affiliation and Dreddy Kruger?
The brothers from the Wu-Tang are members of the 5%, so we have always had that connection when we met years back. I think we always had intentions of doing something together, but things happen and we never came together. I happen to live on Staten Island right now and Dreddy of course has a good relationship with the Wu Camp. He is part of the Wu camp and he was helping me tie some of these brothers down and get them in the studio.
You do production on this album, but other than that you have a crew of relatively unknowns, run the list down for us.
First off I don’t have any famous producers on it. The main producers are myself, my brother Reality Allah he did “Revolution”. I got my man Big Throwback he did “On the Corner on the Streets” which is also on the 12″. I got my man Ginsu Dean who I met on myspace (laughs) ok, for real met on myspace. He ended up doing “Greatest Story Never Told” and “The Cypher” (writer note: could be “Decipher”) featuring 40 Bandits. He also co-produced “The Study of Lessons” which features Sadat X which isn’t on the advance that you have. Then I have like 4 or 5 joints from my dude Preservation and then I have a track from Bronze Nazareth and that’s it.
So you met Ginsu Dean on myspace? (laughs)
Word, I met him on myspace. I don’t know I just felt a vibe and gave him a chance. He emailed me some tracks and I was like yo, it’s hot. He also did those tracks on a SP1200. For all those that don’t know what they mean, that means 10 seconds of sampling time. You have very little time and you have to be able to freak it. He freaked it and his philosophy of that machine I like too. He wants to make the SP1200, that classic hip-hop machine relevant in today’s music. I think he has a chance to do that with those tracks because those tracks are very strong. So yeah, I met him on myspace, it was crazy.
I have to say “Here Comes The Sun” is my favorite track on the album, you use the Sun as a metaphor for the “Black Man”. Explain it’s significance.
In our lessons there is a lot of symbolism and analogies. We talk about knowledge, wisdom, and understanding which are also symbolic to the black man, woman and child and is also symbolic the sun, the moon and the stars. The black man is the sun, the woman is the moon and the child is the star. Literally on the song I’m talking about here comes the sun and relating it to that symbolism. That’s why it has a deeper meaning to those who have knowledge of self because they really know what I’m talking about. To anybody else it might just sound like clever sun analogies, but it definitely has a deeper meaning.
Who produced that song?
I actually produced that song. Unfortunately it will not be on the final version of the album. It’s a Nina Simone sample but George Harrison actually wrote the song. All the music on the song, I played and the only sample is when you hear “here comes the sun” but they won’t clear the sample. But it is on the 12″ single as a bonus track and it is going to be on a limited edition version of the album downloadable from Itunes.
Don’t you think that not being able to sample like you could in the early nineties is really taking away from the soul of hip-hop?
Exactly, “The Sun” for instance, I had to recreate most of the music because there wasn’t a lot of it there. At one point when I was producing I was making keyboard beats, and just playing the samples myself. When we first came into this, we were on a real sampling vibe, digging in the crates and such. Even though I’m good at playing the music I’m not classically trained I just play by ear. The sampling that’s part of the soul of hip-hop, the business kills the art. It’s not just in hip-hop I see it in film where the independent artists can’t do what they want to do due to financial limitations. It’s very messed up, because we want to eat off this but at the time the commerce part of the business takes away from the real quality and the creativity that could really come from it if people were able to do what they wanted to do.
“Here Comes The Sun” was supposed to set it all up for the listener and after the introduction it was that song that would bring you into my world. Although I have found another song to introduce my world to the listener called “Original Man” with Raekwon and it has an intro from Minister Farrakhan that starts it off. He says “All my brothers from Brooklyn will you raise your hands” and then he goes through all the other boroughs. The song has great energy and still brings you in my world, but my original idea was to bring you in my world with “Here Comes The Sun”.
What would you say is your favorite track on the album?
I love them all just like you love all your children. One of my favorites and one of the songs that I am most proud of would have to be “Greatest Story Never Told”. From the way that I put that down and the whole way it went. I usually don’t write bars that long, 30 bars and such. I think I told the story well and I’m really proud of that.
Will we see another Jamar solo or is 1 enough?
I’m sure you will see another solo, I got things to say. I’m sure you will see another Brand Nubian and you will see another Lord Jamar. It all depends on the response I get. If it’s anything like the response I’m getting so far from this album, I think definitely you will see another one.
The critics and fans alike are hailing this album as something relevant for today’s hip-hop culture. It’s nice to see somebody not compromising what they were to us in ’94 even though its 12 years later and still be able to have an impact.
12 years later and still doing it. Honestly, some people can’t necessarily do it 12 years later and sound current and sound like they can hang with whoever is out here right now. Some people for whatever reason just lose touch with the whole craft. Maybe we were fortunate that we never blew up crazy crazy. I was always in touch with what’s going on, street shit and the youth emcees.
So what’s next….give us a run down of the rest of 2006 for Lord Jamar.
Man, just going out there and hitting the road and supporting the album. Just doing my thing, going over seas and all that.
Thank you for your time; it was a real honor to interview a legend in hip-hop, any last words?
Peace to everybody that supported me since the beginning and supports me in everything that I’m doing. I’m not going to let you down and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing and coming with that quality. Of course, go buy the album June 27th. “The 5 Percent Album”….get it.
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