Brand Nubian's Lord Jamar on Race: "Pitbull Is Cuban, Cuban Is Black, Macklemore's White"
Lord Jamar is a Five-Percent Nation hip-hop originator who is not afraid to crack on Kanye for his skirt, rip on Macklemore for his skin, or tell off anybody who he feels is forsaking the sacred science of hip-hop.
He's also got a problem with Rakontur's Tanning of America, and all the other white people ruining cool shit by pretending they invented it.
We here at Crossfade caught up with Lord Jamar before his WMC and MMW show at The Stage with Brand Nubian, the classic '90s hip-hop group that he helped found and make famous. Here's what he had to say about EDM, rock star DJs, and Pitbull being a black Cuban.
Crossfade: What is your history with Miami?
Ah, man, we've done a lot of shows in Miami. It's one of the first places we went to when we got a deal. Around 1990, '91. The label sent us down. Collins was a very different place back then. A lot of old people just sitting on the front porch. But we always enjoy Miami.
What do you think of electronic music?
Umm ... Y'know, it's cool. I'm not really into it too much. I like a little dubstep here and there. If I hear some EDM that I'm like, "Yo, that's crazy," then so be it. Everybody is free to enjoy it, love it. I'm not there to stop them.
What do you think of electronic DJ rock stars?
I'm not mad at the DJ rock star. I started as a DJ back in the day. What we know as a DJ today comes from hip-hop.
What is the origin of the phrase, "Word is bond"?
That comes from the Five-Percent Nation. It means that you don't break your word. That's all you have. Your word is your bond, and your bond is your life, and that comes from the lessons of the Five Percent.
What is the state of the Five-Percent Nation today?
We're about to celebrate our 50th anniversary doing what we always been doing. We're still teaching the babies and trying to reveal the truth.
Did you see that movie Tanning of America?
I only saw two episodes of it, but I saw some of it. I thought it was pretty inaccurate as far as the painting it tried to portray. Y'know, certain things were, l felt, blatant. Like, the segment on Tommy Hilfiger, I thought it was crazy they could show that and not show Grand Puba. Nobody would know who Hilfiger was if not for Grand Puba. The fact they skipped him over was an attempt to rewrite history.
What's that story?
Grand Puba was the first rapper to talk about Hilfiger in a song. Puba put him in a rhyme on the song "What's The 411?" with Mary J. Blige. He also wore his stuff in a video and talked about him more than once. He spoke on Hilfiger a few times. Snoop Dogg only knew who Hilfiger was because of Grand Puba.
I spoke to the director about how they also censored out Miami, and make hip hop look like it was all fuckin' New York and L.A and shit....They left out a lot of shit
That's true, they left out that Miami Bass, and they left out Uncle Luke too.
They were saying that it's not supposed to be a definitive history.
Yeah, well, that's what they're making it look like.They can hide behind that statement, but people are gonna look at it like a definitive history of hip-hop, and they didn't cover it properly.
The history of hip-hop is now being written. Who is writing it, and what are they leaving out?
It seems that just like a lot of other past history, this new history is being written by the imitators, not the originators. Basically, white people trying to rewrite history with white characters. And that's why a lot of Robin Thicke, and Justin Timberlake, and Macklemore, and people that do black music with white faces -- that's also part of rewriting history.
What do you think about Cubans in hip hop?
I always tell people, blacks and Latinos came up, hand in hand, in this hip-hop thing and did this together. We all come from that African origin. We were all slaves and got split up to different islands. Some of us went to America, some went to Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico. I think Cuban is black. Even if they don't think that.
What about a white-faced Cuban like Pitbull. How is he different from Macklemore?
A white-faced Cuban like Pitbull is still Cuban. He may be a white-faced Cuban, but he's still Cuban, and that's still black. We have light-skinned black people that can pass for white, but they're still black too. The difference is that Macklemore is white, and Pitbull is Cuban, and there's a difference in that.
What about Miley Cyrus?
I mean she's another one, comin' in, she tried to make black music now, after coming from really what her father did, which is country music. So I don't know when she started loving this black music. But she's trying to imitate it, and she's trying to come and do everything she can for attention 'cause she understands how the game works. She's a product of this society and the times we live in, and someone like that knows how to garner attention.
What do you think of that Pharrell song "Happy?"
I mean, all type of songs are necessary. It's a catchy little song. Y'know, he's happy. That's good. That's a good message. We don't wanna be sad or angry, so to make a song to promote happiness, that's a beautiful thing. Do I think it's a hip-hop song? No. But it's a great pop song.
Did you see the Katy Perry "Dark Horse" video had a sacred Islamic symbol in it that got consumed in fire?
I don't follow Katy Perry, so I wouldn't have seen the video.
Yeah, well pretty much that's what happened and then there was a huge online petition about it and the company had to go actually go and recut the music video.
Well, that just proves that people have the power, and if you raise your voice about something, you can get results. But you never get results if you just accept whatever images they show you. That's why we have to use our voice to make some change.
What is some good shit to be pissed off about right now?
Oh, a whole lot of stuff needs to be changed. All this talk about murder, and all this glorifying money and wealth, and all the feminization of men within hip-hop. All that needs to stop. It's detrimental to us as a whole and it needs to be spoken about and outraged on.
What's the Brand Nubian set gonna be like at The Stage on March 28?
We do the classics. All the songs you wanna hear, and some surprises.
Man, shout out all my people from Miami. We always have a good time down there.
Brand Nubian. With DJ Cash Money, plus DJs Heron, Klassik, and Self Born. Friday, March 28, at The Stage, 170 NE 38th St., Miami. The show starts at 10 p.m. and tickets cost $15 plus fees via wantickets.com. Ages 21 and up. Call 305-576-9577 or visit thestagemiami.com.
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