Yes. I actually bought Lord Jamar’s first solo album when it was released on June 27th, 2006. And now, over ten years later, I deeply regret it.
I was (and still am) a child of the 90s.
But not the “Whitney Houston, Monica, Brandy, Aaliyah, Mariah” 90s that shaped so many coming-of-age gay boys. I genuinely had zero interest in that kind of stuff back then.
No, as I’ve discussed before, I was influenced by Hyper-masculine action movies stars and “gangsta rap” Hip Hop artists of the 90s. Nas, Mobb Deep, Tupac, DMX, Death Row Records…these were the musicians that made the soundtrack of my youth.
Near the end of the 90s I was finally introduced to Brand Nubian. They were a rap group consisting of Grand Puba, Sadat X and (the now infamous) Lord Jamar.
They had been out for quite awhile but I had always associated them with Old School Rap, in the same category that I put rappers like KRS-ONE and Public Enemy. They were dope rappers, but seemed to belong to my older cousins generation of Hip Hop.
But Brand Nubian reinvented itself in 1998 with the release of their fourth album, “The Foundation.” For the first time, they used outside producers like DJ Premier, Diamond D and Lord Finnesse, beat-makers that I already loved.
I dug Grand Puba’s lyricism. I loved Sadat X’s perfect nasally voice. And I loved Lord Jamar’s flow and the knowledge he was kicking. Plus he was a handsome dude.
Lord Jamar (born Lorenzo Dechalus) had a good little run as Supreme Allah on the hit HBO prison ‘soap opera for men’ show, “Oz.” This was one of my favorite shows back then. It was gritty, raw, hyper-masculine and featured tons of both homoeroticism and homosexuality. And peens, it had lots of peen too…including Lord Jamar’s.
For me, a young Black gay dude who didn’t identify with “the gay lifestyle” or “stereotypical gay shit” in any way, Lord Jamar was That Dude…
Well…at least one of them (Nas was still the H.N.I.C.).
Jamar was handsome, talented, exuded hip-hop masculinity and he was (seemingly) very intelligent. For decades he had been outspoken against police brutality, violence in the Black community, materialism and not supporting our fellow brothers and sisters. He seemed to be preaching Love over Hate in our community:
When will we make our Exodus? When will the guns
bust the other way instead of at the brother next to us?
That’s all that they expect from us, police stand by
Don’t believe the lie that they’re the ones protectin us
Projects, to see how poverty’s affectin us
Robberies, we lust objects of high quality
or so we think we slowly sink into the quicksand
With no support, like a bike that doesn’t have a kickstand
By the time Lord Jamar’s first solo joint, “The 5% Album” came around in 2006, I had long started dabbling into the teachings of The Nation of the Gods and Earths myself.
As a kid who officially discarded Christianity at only 12 years old, I sought out as much information that I could on many different beliefs. Islam didn’t stick (the whole ’emotional magical deity with a big ego’ problem still existed) but the “knowledge” that Five Percenters were spitting was at least in the right neighborhood. They were primarily centered around Science, Mathematics, Family and Teaching young people. All things I valued greatly. Many of my favorite rappers being Five Percenters (or at least familiar with their teachings) didn’t hurt either.
So I always immediately bought any album that heavily featured the teachings on them. Rakim’s “The 18th Letter,” The RZA’s group Gravediggaz album, “The Pick, The Sickle and The Shovel” and Killarmy’s “Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars” were among just a few Five-Percenter CD’s that got heavy rotation in my headphones.
I even learned from Five-Percenters that I knew personally, broke bread with them, befriended them…but eventually I realized that I was still an “other.”
Not only did I not subscribe to one of their most often discussed beliefs, that “The White Man” was the “Devil” created in the Caucasus Mountains by a Black scientist named Yakub, I was also gay. A no-no in an organization that was all about families and continuing your “seed” (aka having children).
So I slowly shed my ties to the Fiver-Percent Nation and started embracing my sexuality and individuality more. Eventually that lead to gaining fellow Black masculine gay friends and ultimately creating this website. A community where I could fit in as myself, since I didn’t seem to fit in anywhere else.
Lord Jamar faded away from my consciousness and the public eye…
Until DJ Vlad (who is oddly obsessed with homosexuality) gave Jamar a platform to speak what he calls, “Hip Hop Conservatism.” Which I guess means speaking, at length, against Gay people and Homosexuality.
At first, I wondered why Jamar has so much free time on his hands to hang out with Vlad and discuss Gays, and then I realized that the writing was on the wall the whole time.
Homophobia has been in Hip Hop’s DNA since its beginnings. I wrote a piece about this disappointing legacy called, “Hip Hop Has Always Hated You and Always Will, Deal With It” years ago and it somewhat still applies to today.
Many heterosexual artists in Hip Hop and people who were also raised by 90s Hip Hop culture, are not very gay friendly. Oh sure, they may tolerate gays out in public, but some of the things they say (both men and women) when they think there are not gay people around, is no better than what Lord Jamar says to DJ Vlad’s camera.
It does sting a little.
As I hold this Lord Jamar album in my hand, I’m ashamed that I supported him because this physical CD now reminds me that I’m an “other.”
As a non-diva worshiping, non-finger-snapping, non-salacious man…in the Gay community, I’m also an “other.”
But even in my own masculine dominant Black community as a college educated, self-employed, potential role model, with no criminal record…I’m especially an “other” because I also happen to be Gay.
Suffice it to say, I’m over my fandom of Lord Jamar and could really care less what he has to say nowadays. But I will admit that a small part of me wishes that he, and others I admired as a teenager/young adult, remained the heroes that I made them out to be in my young mind.