4.09.2010

Exploring the Nation of Islam's influence in entertainment

by Jesse Muhammad for The Final Call Newspaper

Most young people today may have heard of the song "Juicy" by the late rapper Notorious B.I.G. but very few may know whose music he sampled to produce that hit track. It originated from legendary jazz musician James Mtume, who was personally invited by the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan to present this week during the three-day conference.

“There has been a breakdown in the generational transfer of music,” said Mr. Mtume, who has produced jazz albums for decades. Mr. Mtume's band (named Mtume) is best known for their 1983 R&B hit song “Juicy Fruit” which was sampled by Biggie Smalls, Warren G and even Jennifer Lopez.

“Many of the young people today don't understand the history and a lot of it involves my generation,” said Mr. Mtume. “There is a need for the older and younger generations to come together.”

During this workshop, titled “The Influence of the N.O.I. in Entertainment,” Mr. Mtume examined how our people have been introduced to the knowledge of self through poetry and music stemming from the Teachings of the Most Honorable Elijah Muhammad. At last year's convention, a panel spoke on the N.O.I.'s impact on Hip-Hop and Minister Farrakhan wanted this seminar to expand to other genres.

“The N.O.I. had a programmatic influence on entertainment. Meaning you had many artists who followed Elijah Muhammad just not in bow ties and suits or headpieces,” noted Mr. Mtume, who first heard the Teachings of the N.O.I. as a teenager.

According to Mr. Mtume, to the surprise of many in the audience, the names of legends influenced by the N.O.I. included John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis and even the Mtume band.

“We all supported the conscious movement. You can support things in different ways. That's what I mean by the Nation having a programmatic impact because it touched many that were not members,” said Mr. Mtume, who once recorded with the great Duke Ellington.

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