Rap COINTELPRO Pt 3 (Five Percent Nation & the Golden Era)

Cedric Muhammad

In the last of our three-part series on COINTELPRO and its possible application to the Hip-Hop Industry and Community we take a look at some of the work that the U.S. intelligence community has performed via media outlets. The purpose in doing so is to establish that in fact, there exists documented evidence that the U.S. government has used T.V. Stations, radio stations, newspapers and their editors and journalists to spread misinformation, lies and half-truths designed to destabilize Black and progressive organizations.

Furthermore, said reporters and editors have been used to actually spy on such organizations as well as on liberation movements in foreign lands – all on behalf of the U.S. government. The New York Times revealed some of this in 1977 – showing that Reuters, CBS and several newspapers had been used by intelligence agencies.

The most instructive example, relevant to the education of the Hip-Hop community, that I have been able to locate in regards to finding an example of how media outlets were used to destabilize Black groups and organizations, is the work the FBI accomplished through media outlets in the 50s, 60s and 70s against the Nation of Islam. This example should be combined with a thorough knowledge of what the FBI did to oppose the Five Percent Nation of Islam, particularly from 1965-1967. Why? Because these groups (NOI and Five Percenters) are still around today and arguably have had more impact on the evolution of Hip-Hop than any other force – spiritual, political, economic or cultural. That point is almost beyond debate, just weigh the impact that the NOI and Five-Percent teachings have had on Rakim, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, Wu-Tang Clan and Lauryn Hill. And then look at the impact these individuals and groups have had on Hip-Hop, America and youth culture in general.

Minister Farrakhan and Jabril Muhammad

In a book entitled This Is The One, written by Nation of Islam Minister Jabril Muhammad (he was known as Minister Bernard Cushmeer when he wrote This Is The One) the question of the coordination of media outlets in a propaganda war against the Nation of Islam was raised. Keep in mind that Minister Muhammad began writing this book in the late 60s when COINTELPRO was not known to be in existence by the general public. This kind of reminds me of the situation that we find ourselves in today, where, for the most part members of the Black and Hip-Hop Community don’t have public knowledge of any intelligence campaign being waged against them by the FBI, CIA or NSA. Here is the actual quote of what Minister Muhammad wrote in his book which he began in 1968:

Back In 1959, the white press, as if on signal, launched a furious attack on Messenger Muhammad and The Nation Of Islam, following the dishonest portrayal of us entitled: “The Hate That Hate Produced.” Through such publications as Time, U.S. News and World Report, Newsweek, The Reporter, Esquire, Confidential, True, Saga, and a host of other magazines and newspapers; white America spewed forth a flood of articles, both superficial, spurious and poisonous in nature. A few among them did a creditable job, as far as they went. But the bulk of what was written was insidious and rotten to the core. But it did not hurt us.

There is plenty of evidence to show that much of the material was deliberately misleading. There are instances when reporters found interpolations in the text of their stories that were altered, here and there, by their “bosses” so as to misrepresent their findings of the Messenger and his followers.

The white people – newscasters, commentators, etc.,–have lied in concert. The television newsmen were not, and are not, above editing their films in such manner as to actually tell lies to their viewers. They conspired to deceive the public regarding Messenger Muhammad. This can be proven with ease. Members of a large orchestra do not accidentally play the same tune.

Mattias Gardell

Was Minister Muhammad right? According to a White Swedish Scholar, Mattias Gardell, he was absolutely correct. In Mr. Gardell’s book, In The Name of Elijah Muhammad: Louis Farrakhan And The Nation Of Islam, published in 1996 (28 years after Minister Muhammad began his book) Gardell verifies the truth of what Minister Muhammad wrote. Gardell writes:

In 1959, the FBI launched a large-scale media campaign. In this first phase, the FBI briefed selected journalists who wittingly channeled the view of the bureau to the American public. The special agent in charge (SAC) in Chicago, wrote:

“Originally the program was centered around espousing to the public, both white and black, on a nationwide basis the abhorrent aspects of the organization and its racist, hatetype teachings. This was done in such leading magazines as Time, U.S. News and World Report, Saturday Evening Post etc., as well as through newspapers.”

The sudden outburst of media interest is commented on by NOI apologist Jabril Muhammad (then Bernard Cushmeer). His view might have seemed overly paranoid to some readers, but Cushmeer was correct: “Back in 1959, the white press, as if on signal, launched a furious attack on Messenger Muhammad and the Nation of Islam…white America spewed forth a flood of articles, both superficial, spurious and poisonous [sic] in nature…They conspired to deceive the public…Members of a large orchestra do not accidentally play the same tune.”

In the notes in his book, Gardell makes reference to the actual FBI files that he saw, on which he bases his statements.

For context, for those so inclined, get the Church Committee Report, go into the Congressional Record and look into the Second Session of the 94th Congress and get Senate Report Number 755. You will find, very clearly, the various lies, tricks and evil which the U.S. government directed at certain groups in order to destabilize and destroy them. All of which are maneuvers used in modern warfare.

Go to the FBI’s own online website and read the files that they have released pertaining to COINTELPRO and how they had virtually every organization that even thought of doing any good under surveillance. The address is http://foia.fbi.gov/room.htm

Many dope emcess were members of the Five Percent Nation

Again don’t forget to play close attention to the Five Percenter file which is available in two parts. And lastly, apply what you see to what happened to the Hip-Hop community, particularly what happened to the industry after the golden era of Hip-Hop consciousness, which in my opinion, ran from 1988-1992.

(*update Jan 2011* peep this article on Influence of Five Percent Nation)

Was it an accident that the industry moved so dramatically away from this era? Was and is there any interaction between intelligence officials and music industry executives like there is between the CIA and executives in other industries (I hope most of you are aware of this and are familiar with industrial espionage and how the government relies upon business executives to supply info on other countries, governments and citizens that it does business with in foreign lands – to the skeptics, if you don’t know anything about this please do some research of your own or reserve judgment until I write about this in a future A Deeper Look)?

What about the dramatic impact that marijuana and now ecstasy is having on the Hip-Hop community? To what degree has the FBI, Justice Department and DEA coordinated its crime fighting and war on drugs and “gangs” with those who work in the music industry? We already know that the U.S. Drug Czar Gen. Barry McCaffrey, works with news outlets and editors and “rewards” them for content that is viewed as helpful in the “war on drugs”. If you are unfamiliar with this please visit Salon Magazine‘s expose on this at

Propaganda for dollars


Prime-time propaganda

And never forget how the war on drugs has hurt and not helped Blacks and Black Youth in particular. This month a slew of studies came out about this.

And remember, Gen. McCaffrey’s position was made a cabinet-level position by President Clinton. He is officially part of the executive branch of the United States government.

Finally play particular attention to how the East Coast-West Coast feud was played up in the media and how freely the FBI and police departments gave info to journalists covering the supposed “feud” and the murders of Tupac and Biggie. Get your hands on old newspaper articles that came out in major cities the week after Biggie’s murder, in particular. And of course please re-read my series in its entirety, whenever your schedule permits, things that were a bit foggy when I first began this series may now be more clear, hopefully.

May we learn the lessons of history and not have to wait 28 years before we figure out what has been going on today. If I seem paranoid to some of viewers, then I consider myself to be in good company (smile).

Thanks for staying with me during this series.


Cedric Muhammad

Friday, June 30, 2000

original article: http://www.blackelectorate.com/articles.asp?ID=139

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Rap COINTELPRO Pt2 (Wu-Tang Clan & The Village Voice)

Cedric Muhammad

Last week we raised the possibility that an organized attempt had been and still is being made to destabilize the Hip-Hop industry and thus the community. We briefly looked at the murder of the Notorious B.I.G. and raised some unanswered questions surrounding his death; introduced some important background information regarding the FBI’s COINTELPRO which was dedicated to destabilizing Black and progressive organizations, especially in the 1960s and 70s; and posed a challenge to Black intellectuals to apply their knowledge of the tactics used by the U.S. government to oppose Black leaders, to Biggie’s murder in particular, and to the Hip-Hop Industry/Community in general.

We also pointed you to a Brill’s Content article that shows how the L.A. Times has been involved in disseminating false information regarding Biggie’s murder. We also took pains to mention that it was this story and one prior to it that brought Suge Knight’s name into the mix as allegedly involved in Biggie’s death. We openly questioned that if the L.A. Times article is misinformation wouldn’t that point to Mr. Knight’s innocence and we asked who was the original source in the FBI/LAPD that fingered Suge Knight? What was their motive for doing this, through the media? I hope that some of you, in your study of COINTELPRO and other programs, are familiar with the manner in which the FBI and CIA used reporters and media outlets, print and TV, to plant stories, have articles written and spread malicious lies – much of which was directed at getting groups that otherwise could have worked together to fight one another.

Last week, I also openly stated that it was my opinion that the image and rumors of an East Coast – West Coast Hip-Hop “war” were a fabrication of the media and perpetuated by local and federal police departments prior to and during the investigations into Tupac and Biggie’s murders, in large part via information fed to reporters in various media outlets. We will conclude this series next week on this crucial point of the role of the media, in particular its role in COINTELPRO of yesterday and its possible continuation today. This week we take a very brief look at a more recent situation in Hip-Hop that again raises the possibility that the Federal Government has ill- intentions for the Hip-Hop Community.

A few weeks ago, the Village Voice published an article alleging that over the last year a white government informant was in some capacity representing members of the multi-platinum group, Wu-Tang Clan, while the group was under criminal investigation. After reading the article, it is readily apparent that it was a sensationalized story designed to reflect negatively upon Wu-Tang.

The story also appeared to be crafted in great part because while the headlines emphasized the supposed connection between this white individual and Wu-Tang, the article deals more substantively with the individual’s alleged real connection to white organized crime figures in New York and Miami. The individual is reportedly a government informant in a case involving Mob figures in New York and Miami. So while real evidence allegedly links the individual to Mob figures, the Village Voice cover and headlines and subtitles focused on a very unclear connection between the “informant’ and the Hip-Hop group. Most of the information on that front is anecdotal in nature that informs the reader of little.

The real story is this individual’s relationship with white underworld figures and the feds yet the Village Voice markets the piece, which was picked up by news services all over the world, as quality reporting that somehow connects this individual’s relationship with the U.S. Government with his relationship with Wu-Tang. The piece doesn’t live up to that billing. It never connects the dots but to an unsuspecting and innocent reader, it does open the Clan up to suspicion not only in terms of a link to the feds but also in terms of criminal activity. I found that to be peculiar and yes, the deliberate intention of the Village Voice. In the weeks that have followed the piece, many people have spread more rumors, gossip and innuendo regarding the Clan over the Internet and many people seem to have only read the sensational headlines but have not analyzed the story or the motive behind it with a critical mind.

To me, the aim of the Village Voice and/or whoever may have helped them craft the story, was to discredit the Clan inside of the unforgiving world of the New York Hip-Hop community and to discredit them among their core group of fans. It also attempted to portray the group as unintelligent but it definitely did not seek to prove that the individual was really working on behalf of the government specifically against the Clan, though the article and headlines imply otherwise.

This is one of the factors that makes me believe that someone bigger than just the Village Voice may have been behind the story – how else could the government come off clean and the Clan looking rather uncomplimentary. Remember, the story is supposed to be about feds, Wu and this informant but it ends up really only being about the informant and Wu. What happened to the feds?

Village Voice Article drew suspicion Capadonna & Ghostface

The reason why I stress that point is because I believe the writer(s) could have proved or disproved whether the informant was working against the Clan if they so desired and from reading the piece, I believe that the writer(s) has discussed the government’s surveillance of Wu-Tang with enough people in the know, to be able to determine whether or not this government informant is directly working against Wu-Tang or if he is only with the group strictly for business purposes as he gives evidence on the alleged Miami/New York crime figures. The writer(s) simply asks why the informant was working with Wu-Tang in any capacity and spends the majority of the article lampooning and mocking the group. And again, he leaves the feds unscathed.

The Village Voice sought to harm the group’s reputation by negative implication and innuendo. The story, to me, seemed designed to destroy the Clan’s street credibility not prove any thing about this informant working for the feds against the Clan. If they had done that (proved the informant was working against the Clan) the Village Voice would have proved the existence of COINTELPRO. No, the informant angle is the hook that draws you in to read garbage about the Clan. And I found it very interesting that no one in the community that prides itself on its “consciousness” came to the defense of the Clan, even to intelligently alert the public to the possibility that the Village Voice article may point to something bigger than Wu-Tang.

Lord Michael Caruso & Rza werte also targeted in Village Voice article

This could have helped others even those who I know do not like Wu-Tang personally or what they represent in music or ideology. If you are in the Hip-Hop community, personal dislike of the Clan won’t cut it on this one. The Hip-Hop community owes it to itself to defend itself from what many people, more than just myself, know to be a deliberate attempt to destabilize and destroy the real and potential cultural, economic and political impact of Hip-Hop. From my limited vantage point, everyone seemed caught up in the sensational aspects of the story and not the potential threat it posed to the entire community. This is another aspect of the indolence of the Hip-Hop community that I referred to last week.

I personally served as management to Wu-Tang a couple of years ago. I no longer do so. To the best of my knowledge, which I think is pretty good, the Clan was never involved in any of the criminal activities that they were or are currently under investigation for. I do not and never have, for one moment believed that they are guilty. Of course, I did not see everything that everyone was doing but I am confident that I was certainly in a position to know whether or not a gun-running operation was being organized and ran by the group. I am not afraid to go on public record in defense of the group or the truth of what I know.

But the Federal Government wants to pin these charges on the Clan.

What I can tell you that the Village Voice did not tell you, is that several individuals who have been arrested and/or charged with crimes in New York City and who have never had any affiliation with the group, have been offered reduced sentences or no time at all in exchange for either saying that they were connected with Wu-Tang when they committed their alleged crimes or in exchange for directly infiltrating the music group.

This is a fact. A fact that the Village Voice should know about with all of its connections in the entertainment community and law-enforcement. And these individuals being approached are young Black males not an alleged white informant who is linked to some white mobsters in New York or Miami. That is the real story if the Village Voice is so interested.

The goal of the Federal Government, the FBI included, is to lie and link Wu-Tang and others to a supposed Hip-Hop industry- wide crime network. I know that as early as 1995, several young Black music executives, other than Wu-Tang, and their actual places of business were under surveillance and “investigation” by the Federal Government allegedly for committing various crimes. Not only have individuals under the supervision of the criminal justice system been approached in an effort to make cases against high-profile individuals in the industry but so have white lawyers and white music executives who deal with these individuals. This is common knowledge inside of a few circles in the music industry; even marketing plans of certain artists have been taken by federal investigators. We also know that the IRS has been and is unfairly targeting several Hip-Hop artists and their business enterprises for audits. One day, this will all come out.

For those who persist in wanting to see all crime-fighting efforts as above reproach and legitimate, I can tell you that for whatever illegal activities that may or may not have been perpetrated by various individuals in the music business, the Federal Government has gone above and beyond what is fair in their investigation of the Clan. Asking individuals to straight up lie and say that they are connected to crimes that never occurred and to make up affiliations and even to ask suspects to infiltrate Wu-Tang is not legitimate crime fighting. I also do not see it as simply a case of a “few bad cops”. I see it as a deliberate attempt to destabilize and discredit not only an influential group but also an entire industry and cultural force.

To me, it is certainly reminiscent of COINTELPRO where the goal was not to arrest guilty individuals but to arrest a cultural and political movement. For those who have studied COINTELPRO, it is interesting to learn of all of the Black celebrities and entertainers who have/had government files. I hope everyone in the Hip-Hop community will become much more alert and those who have first-hand knowledge of what I am talking about will begin to compare notes with one another. This isn’t a game or fantasy although some will persist in doubting to the very end. Next week at http://blackelectorate.com/ we will look at some historical evidence that shows that the FBI and CIA used reporters to spread pieces of misinformation to the public and actually helped journalists write false stories. Could this be happening today?

Cedric Muhammad

Friday, June 16, 2000

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Rap COINTELPRO Pt1 (Death of Biggie)

March 9 2011.. I wanna leave people with a recording of one of the last Biggie radio interviews before he died. This was done the Thursday before his death at KMEL with Sway and the Breakfest club...

One of the interesting side notes to this is when Biggie initially did this interview it sounded like he was being coy when asked about his involvement with 2Pac’s death. It angered many of the people listening, so much that came Sunday morning when word got out about him being killed, people called up to the station celebrating..

It wasn’t until years later that when listening to the interview we realized that Biggie’s slang and word phrasing had been misinterpreted.. When Victor asked him about Pac’s death Biggie responded “We Ain’t that Powerful yet‘.. What he actually said was ‘We ain’t that powerful yo‘.. The phrasing where you end a sentence with ‘yo’ was not commonly heard or used at least in the Bay that time.. so folks thought he was being funny..Listen for yourself and then read this insightful article..

-Davey D-

Cedric Muhammad

For years, while I was in the music industry I would hear stories from so-called “conscious” artists about how the government had effectively neutralized and destabilized various pro-Black, Progressive and Civil Rights organizations through the FBI’s Counter Intelligence program (COINTELPRO). Then they would inform me that they “knew” that COINTELPRO-like tactics were being exercised today.

Nine times out of ten after I asked them a question or two I realized two things immediately 1) how little they actually knew about the FBI’s programs and its aims and objectives 2) these artists wouldn’t recognize COINTELPRO today if it hit them in the face. It is not just artists who suffer from this problem, most Black people today don’t have a working knowledge of exactly what the U.S. government did to destroy Black organizations and discredit Black leaders. And the many Black intellectuals that I have met, who seem to know COINTELPRO inside out, don’t seem to be able to identify aspects of the programs existence today. I really came to realize this through their inability to see how the phony East Coast – West Coast Hip-Hop “War” of 1995-1997 had been fabricated and perpetuated by the media, police departments and yes, even the FBI.

Virtually everyone who was in the Hip-Hop industry during that time frame knew that there was no real war of East Coast Rappers Vs. West-Coast Rappers. There were a few personal problems between parties on both coasts but there was no organized conflict as the media portrayed it. Yet everywhere I went, I was constantly asked about this supposed war. Clearly, the Black Community fell victim to the propaganda. I was always saddened that the people who had been the greatest victims of misinformation in the 1960s had fallen the hardest for it in the 90s. It was just a small indication, to me, of how little the Black Community has really learned of and from what went on in the 1960s and 70s, in particular.

When the Notorious B.I.G. was murdered in 1997, the LAPD, NYPD and even the FBI fed reporters stories about the possibility that Biggie had been murdered as a result of a “rap feud’. If you can, go back and read the first stories 1 week within the murder, in N.Y. and L.A. papers first and then other big-city newspapers and you will be able to see the numerous “sources” of reporter’s stories on the murder that furthered this line of argument and spread it throughout America (and don’t forget that the media advanced this argument after Tupac was murdered the year before).

If you do a little more research you will see that the whole time Biggie was in L.A., he and Puffy were under police department and FBI surveillance. They were even under surveillance on the very night Biggie was killed. The question that has never been investigated properly by the media or raised by Hip-Hop writers, Black intellectuals and COINTELPRO experts was why were Biggie and Puffy being watched by the FBI and why hasn’t anyone been arrested for Biggie’s murder if the government had been watching their movements that closely? Did they see everything else that Biggie was doing but just happened to miss who killed him?

In 1999 when I first heard that the FBI was investigating the supposed possibility that Death Row Records head Suge Knight was involved in what happened to Biggie I didn’t believe it. I immediately dismissed that allegation, which was blasted throughout the media, MTV and Black radio in particular. I especially found it odd that the news of this “new” development was dropped right around the 2nd anniversary of Biggie’s death. It seemed it had been done for “maximum impact”.

I did not accept that it would take the FBI 2 years to figure out who killed Biggie especially if they had been watching him when he was killed. They are not that stupid, something else was going on, I figured. Then late last year the LA Times drops this story that supposedly links a few individuals to Suge Knight for some “murder for hire” scheme.

Now, it turns out, according to Brill’s Content in a story that we ran on BlackElectorate.com two weeks ago, that the whole story was a fabrication with no documentation. And that certain editors at the LA Times tried to cover up the fact that they knew the story was bogus. They very quietly tried to counter the original story with another one but the damage had been done to the reputation of an innocent man who may be suing the paper as a result.

But what I recognized in the Brill’s Content story and media coverage of the misinformation the L.A. Times spewed out was little or no mention of the fact that the original story and media hoopla surrounding it supposedly linked Suge Knight to the murder of Biggie. Virtually no one has brought up this fact in Hip-Hop media circles. Again, another indication of the indolence of the Hip-Hop community and a sign of how little supposedly “conscious’ individuals know about the history of the “struggle” they claim to represent. At times it is as if the Hip-Hop community is asleep.

So, who was really behind the attempt to link Suge to Biggie’s murder? Was it simply the error of a reporter? The original story refers to the LAPD as “sources” of information for the story. And what has the FBI been doing watching not just Biggie and Puffy but several Young Black Hip-Hop label Executives and Artists?

These are questions that should have been asked by the Hip-Hop Community and its media outlets. And certainly by Black intellectuals who claim to be such authorities on the government surveillance programs of the 1960s and media misinformation. Surely they, if no one else, should have seen a pattern developing.

Next week will get a little deeper into the possibility that the FBI has and is trying to destabilize the Hip-Hop community.

But in the interim I ask that everyone read up on COINTELPRO at:


As well as Brill’s Content’s expose of the LA Times misinformation on Biggie’s murder at:

http://www.brillscontent.com/current/notorious05_23_00.html …..(this site is now defunct)
Please Read It. You have a whole week!

Cedric Muhammad

Friday, June 09, 2000

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