A Brief Survey of the Sources of Black Esoteric Thought - Spirituality in Hip Hop Part III: The Nuwaubians
As African American religious belief branched out and took on numerous forms during the 20th century, many flocked to alternative spiritual systems in an effort to find answers to the particular and unique absurdities of life in the Americas. Black esoteric groups have provided inimitable answers to the incongruities of American life by redefining and reshaping the images and historical platitudes of White supremacy. Dwight D. York, renamed Malachi Z. York, organized the Nuwaubian Nation to reshape the narrative of White supremacy by using a wide variety of differing belief systems. They argue Black people are not only divine but are otherworldly, and while on this planet they are locked in a mortal battle against other extraterrestrial beings.
York began organizing the Nuwaubians in New York City in the midst of a well-established and diverse array of African American philosophies; in New York the Zulus, 5%ers, Moors, NOI and Garveyites all jostle for ears, minds and territory in already congested space. This may be the reason why York moved the headquarters of his organization to Atlanta, Georgia in 1993. However, law enforcement bodies argue that York was on the run from charges of child-molestation and statutory rape. Still, another theory suggests that York went to Atlanta because he regarded the city as an archetype of the mythical Atlantis, a perfect setting to usher in the next evolutionary stages of humanity. Regardless of the reason for the move, in Georgia York attracted many followers and was able to purchase land where he began building an ancient Egyptian themed compound for his followers.
Like the MSTA, the Nuwaubians refer to themselves as Moors and don the Fez, as well like Noble Drew Ali, York claims to be divinely inspired, a receptacle of celestial knowledge. Further, Nuwaubian narrative of humanity centers on the belief that Earth has been colonized and enslaved by otherworldly beings, and York along with other African American leaders (Elijah Muhammad, Noble Drew Ali, Malcolm X, Father Ali and Yahweh ben Yahweh, to name a few) have been charged to teach the truth about the planet and its inhabitants. To support his ideas and movement, York created a library of booklets and pamphlets called “scrolls” (numbering well over 400) that reference various holy texts (including the Qu’ran, Bible and Torah) and lost books which support the idea of an Earth colonized by malicious reptilians. Additionally, the Nuwaubians share many similar philosophic qualities of other African American esoteric movements of the 20th century, such as: a leader whose beginnings and knowledge base is shrouded in mystery, alternate understandings of the historical record, belief in the inherent divinity of Black people, ancient glory to be regained with a promise of future utopia for Black people.
York was also involved in the music industry during the 1960s, 70s and 80s as a vocalist and a producer with groups: Jackie and the Starlights, the Students and Passion. He eventually organized his own production company called Passion Productions and used music as a vehicle to spread his spiritual influence. While little is known about his artistic endeavors in music, the influence of his movement directly ties into Hip Hop culture through the Atlanta based group OutKast, specifically on their second album ATLiens. To elaborate, the entire motif of this album was steeped in the theology of the Nuwaubians and was a clear departure in artistic and philosophic focus from their debut album Southernplayalisticcadilacfunkymusic. The creative direction unsettled many in the Hip Hop community, arguably because the overall motif and perspective of the Nuwaubians was and is largely unknown. However, close examination of the lyrics and theme of the album reveal a fascinating presentation of Nuwaubian theological understandings. For example, the song Extraterrestrial features the lyrics “out of this world like ET/coming across your TV/Extraterrestrial/straight from ATL”, clearly referencing the beliefs of the Nuwaubians while simultaneously suggesting that there something otherworldly about the Atlanta based group.
To expound further, “Elevators,” the featured song and video of the album, in many ways announced a clear departure from the philosophic direction of the first album by featuring imagery that was replete with Nuwaubian theological symbolic expression. To explain, the motif of the group evolved to display their shift in consciousness: Andre 3000 traded his Atlanta baseball cap for a turban; and their Cadillac, which dominated the motif of the first album, was demolished, making it clear that the group was modifying its paradigm. Moreover, instead of continuing with the parking lot/club playa scenes from the first album, “Elevators” displayed the duo meditating in the forest with others who were also seeking spiritual enlightenment. Finally, all of this was set as the backdrop to a chase scene of sorts, where Andre 3000 and Big Boi are leading a group of Nuwaubian pilgrims searching for a promised-land while being pursued by government agents looking to thwart their efforts. Upon reaching this promised-land, the wayfarers are greeted by extraterrestrials occupying a land dotted with great pyramids. The Nuwaubian trek displayed in this video attempts to project an apocryphal utopia, an appendage consistent with their theological approach.
OutKast was known for altering their motif and philosophy with each album to signify their evolution as artists, however with each offering, traces of their past mindset and artistry lingered, reminding listeners of their growth process. Their Nuwaubian experience also continued on subsequent albums, bleeding through in certain phrases, artistic styles and imagery. Moreover, there are other groups and individuals that have presented the beliefs of the Nuwaubians, such as Erykah Badu, the Roots and Killa Priest, but none as flamboyantly or loudly as OutKast. Again, what this suggests is that there is vibrant spiritual expression within Hip Hop culture yet to be fully explored, that pushes against accepted norms.
 Paul Easterling, “The ‘Nu’ Nation: An Analysis of Malachi Z. York’s Nuwaubians,” Julius H. Bailey, “Sacred Not Secret: Esoteric Knowledge in the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors,” Stephen C. Finley, Margarita Simon Guillory and Hugh R. Page, Jr., eds. Esotericism in the African American Religious Experience: “There is A Mystery…”. (Boston: Brill Publishing, 2015), 198-209, 210-224.
 Julius H. Bailey, “Sacred Not Secret: Esoteric Knowledge in the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors,” Stephen C. Finley, Margarita Simon Guillory and Hugh R. Page, Jr., eds. Esotericism in the African American Religious Experience: “There is A Mystery…”. (Boston: Brill Publishing, 2015), 210-211.
 U.S. v. Dwight D. York, a.k.a. Malakai Z. York, etc. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, D.C. Docket No. 02-00027-.
 David Cay Johnston, ”Wesley Snipes to go on Trial in Tax Case.” The New York Times, January 14, 2008, http://www.nytimes.com/2008/01/14/business/14tax.html?_r=0. The Nuwaubian compound caught the eyes of many in law enforcement, however, they also attracted many from the entertainment industry, including Wesley Snipes.
 Robert Dannin, Black Pilgrimage to Islam. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002), 18. Dannin discusses the track of the Fez for the MSTA specifically and African American Islam in general, however, the Moors themselves argues that the head gear is very ancient and is evidence of the Lost City of Atlantis.
 “A Personal Note From The Receiver,” http://holytablets.nuwaubianfacts.com/thereceiver.htm.
 Stephen Finley, “Mathematical Theology: Numerology in the Religious Thought of Tynnetta Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan,” Stephen C. Finley, Margarita Simon Guillory and Hugh R. Page, Jr., eds. Esotericism in the African American Religious Experience: “There is A Mystery…”. (Boston: Brill Publishing, 2015), 123-137. This chapter deals extensively with NOI concept of the Mother Wheel.
 Julius H. Bailey, “Sacred Not Secret: Esoteric Knowledge in the United Nuwaubian Nation of Moors,” Ibid., 211.
 Malachi Z. York. Are there UFO’s Extraterrestrials In Your Midst. (Atlanta: Free Will Offering, Holy Tabernacle Ministry, 1995), 58. The Nuwaubians believe that Europeans evolved from reptiles. Further, they stake a claim to the planet Earth, while propagating the notion that white people are a group of covert galactic invaders whose ancestry is reptilian, as opposed to mammalian.
 Malachi Z. York "El's Qur'aan 18:60–82, What It Means Today" The Truth (Bulletin), The 7 Heads and the 10 Horns (1993), 12
 Outkast, Speakerboxx/Love Below, “Unfinished,” recorded 2003. Andre 3000 speaks to this point in the song: Unfinished on the double album.
 Outkast. ATLiens, “Extraterrestrial,” recorded 1997.
 Quincy Jones, III, The Art of Organized Noize, documentary release March 21, 2016 (Netflix). This particular song was produced by Andre 3000 and Big Boi, whereas the majority of their production was done by Organized Noize.
 Outkast. Aquemini. “Aquemini,” recorded 1998. Also, some of the clothing worn by Andre 3000 in videos and at award shows there directly influenced by the Nuwaubian Nation.
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