Lord Jamar: Each One, Teach One
HipHopDX: Now since both of your former group-mates, Sadat X and Grand Puba, have released a few solo albums, apiece, during their hiatus' from Brand Nubian -- Why have you opted to wait so long to join them with an individual endeavor??
Lord Jamar: I didnt feel like I had a complete body of work that I felt comfortable with putting out. I had songs completed throughout the years, a few hits (but) I was doing other things (like) acting, (finding & producing) Dead Prez. Everytime I started to do my solo project, things would come to me -- Different projects.
HHDX: Even furthermore -- At what point did you actually decide that you were interested in pursuing a solo career?? And, will this new release, in any way, signify the group's ultimate demise??
LJ: No, this does not signify the groups demise, (but) I have always been interested in a solo career. I started as a solo artist.
HHDX: What specifically gravitated you towards the teachings of the Five Percent Nation??
LJ: There are more rappers in the Five Percent Nation, than (there are ) in Minister Louis Farrakhan's Nation of Islam [NOI], because the NOI doesn't lend itself to Hip-Hop. The NOI is a very structured and rigid organization. Hip-Hop is very loose, and free. The two don't compliment each other. Where-as the Five Percent Nation is more In the street, and is already respected, and accepted by the Hip-Hop generation. The Five Percent Nation also isnt anything to do with straight Islam. I know of a few rappers who are straight Muslim, but they dont outnumber those in the Five Percent Nation. I am not an oppressor of Muslims. I have no fear of them. We in the N.G.E. [Nation of Gods and Earths a.k.a. The 5 Percenters] are not Muslims. To be a Muslim is to submit to the will of Allah, and practice the religion of Islam. To be a member of the N.G.E. is to come in the name of Allah, and to study I.S.L.A.M, which stands for I S.elf L.ord A.nd M.aster. See, 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. The 5% message has something for everyone that wants to learn. It's true this nation was started to empower poor black youth, but the lessons taught are ones we can all use.
HHDX: With your forthcoming debut you decided to go with a concept album versus a more mainstream set -- Tell what prompted your decision to do so??
LJ: I feel you should speak on what you should know. This [Knowledge of Self] is what I have been dealing with for the last 23 years. I have never made mainstream music.
HHDX: For someone who has yet to hear The 5% Album -- How would you describe or define the overall vibe and sound of this project??
LJ: Hard Body...God Body.
HHDX: It's titled, simply, The 5% Album -- What does this name represent to, and for, you??
LJ: I represent my Nation [Nation of Gods and Earths]. I represent truth and power.
HHDX: How long has it actually been in the making??
LJ: One year.
HHDX: How were you able to assemble such an ill team of guest collaborators??
LJ: As far as Wu-Tang, through my man (and A&R) Dreddy Kruger, and everyone else is my family.
HHDX: How do you feel that this new project measures up to your previous group [Brand Nubian] efforts??
LJ: It measures quite well. I personally think it is one of the greatest things I have ever done.
HHDX: Sonically, how would you say it either differs and/or compares to those same earlier releases?
LJ: Sonically, it is as good, or better, than all of my other projects. I learned from each album, and applied my experience. An example would be with the song, 'Study Your Lessons,' (it) is the knowledge I have obtained from The Everything is Everything [sans Puba] album, as far as the live instruments, the production, etcetera.
HHDX: Let's take it back to your very early beginnings...Tell me your entire back-story -- How did it all begin for Lord Jamar??
LJ: (Well, I was always) listening to my moms 45s. I (first) started (out) as a deejay.Then, I got into emcee-ing. As a deejay, I was into scratching, cutting, tricks and spinning behind my back. I was 14 or 15 years old -- I was nasty.
HHDX: Growing up in New Rochelle, New York -- Who were your strongest musical influences??
LJ: James Brown, Jackson 5, Marvin Gaye. My moms use to listen to a lot of Country, too -- Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson. I grew up listening to Bambaataa, Cold Crush (Brothers), Treacherous Three, (Grandmaster Flash & the) Furious Five.
HHDX: At what point did choose music as your lifelong profession??
LJ: When I was 17 years old, I met Daryl C from the (legendary)Crash Crew. He was feeling me, and he was the first to make me feel I was nice enough to make a record. I always knew that, but he validated it for me. Although I already knew (Grand) Puba, it was around the same time when he approached me to say he wanted to work with me after hearing me rhyme at a block party. It was the time in my life that I decided to clean my life up to pursue my goal of music.
HHDX: What string of events led to your first recording contract with Elektra Records??
LJ: Puba had made a record prior as (a member of) the Master of Ceremonies. We did not have a name, or demo, and Puba knew Dante' Ross (of the Simulated Dummies). (That was) when he was still at Tommy Boy (Records). After spending a lot time in our mans studio, listening to a bunch of people record, we finally got a chance to record a demo. We finally made one song, and Dante' loved it. He told us he was leaving Tommy Boy to go to Elektra. He said he loved the song, but we still needed a name. After playing with many different ideas, we came up with Brand Nubian -- Then we were the first group he signed at Elektra.
HHDX: Where did the name Lord Jamar actually derive from??
LJ: It derived from me getting knowledge of myself. When you first come into the knowledge, you choose a righteous name and you get rid of your slave name. Lord Jamar is actually my name, not just a MC name.
HHDX: Lyrically, where do you draw your inspiration(s) from??
LJ: My inspiration comes from the mood of the beat. (It) tells me what the song is about. Or, if the beat has a vocal sample, it will tell me what the songs about. I may have an idea already.
HHDX What do you feel has been, and will continue to be, the key to your success??
LJ: Staying true to who I am, (and) not trying to do something that I know that is not me. Hip-Hop is about real shit. When people see that you are real, you will always have a place in their heart. The love of Hip-Hop (will sustain me), and the belief that there is a segment of the population that wants to hear what I have to say.
HHDX: Why do you feel that the masses aren't seeing more relevant emcees, like yourself, from the that 'Golden Age' of Hip-Hop??
LJ: I am not sure that a lot of brothers are staying sharp enough to be able to put anything out right now. And, the way the market is now, a lot of people who were successful then, will not be successful now.
HHDX: With projects such as The 5% Album -- Do you think that we, as a whole, will begin to see more and more of these artists emerge from obscurity?
LJ: First of all I am not trying to represent any segment of Hip-Hop. I am not here to represent all of the 'Golden Age' rappers. I am timeless. I have no beginning or ending -- I am here to represent my Nation.
HHDX: I know, as of late, you've been doing your Thespian thing with appearances on Oz, Law & Order, Third Watch, and, most recently, Sopranos -- Will you continue to expand in this arena?
LJ: Yes, I plan to continue acting. I have an indie film coming out soon called They're Just My Friends. And, I am in negotiations for a few more projects.
HHDX: On a more serious note -- Are happy with the current state of Hip-Hop music that we know of today??
LJ: No, it would be unfair to say that I am happy with the current state of hip hop music...
HHDX: Tell me something that people do not know about Lord Jamar??
LJ: That I am a deejay, and that I did all of the scratching on this album. Listen to 'Give It Up' and 'Advance the Game,' as well as all of the previous Brand Nubian albums.
HHDX: And, in your time-off, what do you enjoy doing??
LJ: Being with my kids, being in the crib, staying (on) the computer -- Regular sh*t.
HHDX: What has been your biggest career highlight??
LJ: We did a show at Syracuse University, with Run DMC, and we were so hot at the time that Run DMC asked us to close the show. And, at a different time, Russell Simmons told us we were the greatest group in the universe.
HHDX: Futuristically speaking, what does the future hold for Lord Jamar??
LJ: Groups under my belt. Major movies under my belt. (Plus) a couple of more Brand Nubian albums, and a few more solo albums.
HHDX: Any parting words??
LJ: Peace to everyone who supported me from the beginning. Peace to my Universal Family, and everyone who supports real Hip-Hop.
Lord Jamars The 5% Album hits stores on June 27th, 2006
For further information, and to preview tracks from the forthcoming album, please visit: