5 Ela, formerly known as 5 Elementz, have been a strong force in Detroit's hip-hop scene since 1996. Rapper Proof (1973-2006) was once part of the group, who were all produced back in the day by J Dilla (1974-2006). These days, 5 Ela is composed of DJ Sicari, Thyme, and Mudd, who have just released their first new recording, Global Warming 2022, since a series of three vinyl 7-inches in 2011. We spoke with them to catch up. They chose to answer in one voice, as a group, and so we present their responses to you that way.
Metro Times: How did you come up with the name of the album?
5 Ela: The title comes from the change we all see in the earth today. When the body gets warm and has a fever, there is nothing bad about the fever that is burning up whatever germs exist within the body — that's global warming. It's the birth on a new genre and era. [We call it] the "Starfleet Official" genre, and the spiritual era of hip-hop.
MT: What made you guys decide to go in this direction for the new album?
5 Ela: We are artists, and we create with love and the intent to spark creative change. The culture needed a boost. The lack of spiritual knowledge is the one thing that got us put into slavery in the first place, and it is the only thing that can free our minds and allow us to see through our own fog. Society has become a slave to their lowest self-esteem. We have to do better.
MT: How has your music changed since you guys first started out?
5 Ela: Our music has spiritually matured, like we have. The producer we work with, Black Beethoven, plays all his music live. And we come together and mash up all types of music to give you what we have today.
MT: The track "Police State" talks a lot about what's going on now with police brutality. Was that the intention?
5 Ela: It's basically about the current state of the police even though this has been happening since the police have existed in this society. The song is nothing new, just a reminder of the current state of things.
MT: The album has a lot of spiritual overtones and undertones. None show that more than "The Secret Life."
5 Ela: Yeah, "The Secret Life" was inspired by our ancient practice in priesthood. We are Kabbalah Mekubbal, and wanted to share one of our favorites songs and chants with the world, to top off this spiritual awakening of global warming. Shalom to our fellow men of the faithful. The track expresses gratitude, love, truth, peace, freedom, and justice towards the most High.
MT: What other artists are featured on the album?
5 Ela: Omari King Wise, Duminie Deporres, Keys Blake, DJ Los, Finale, Loe Louis, Journalist 103, Awesome Dre, Venus Sky, DJ LaJedi, Cold Men Young, 87, Bryce, CoolBeanz, Pepper Holton, and Marcellus Hogan (Sicari).
MT: 5 ELA has been around for 20 years now. What do you think is the reason your careers never went as high as others?
5 Ela: We are timeless and known all over the world. Our goal has always been to add to the culture, not be famous. We have brought thousands of people to a spiritual path and created genres. It's all about what you want out of it. We are successful, and becoming more successful by the day.
MT: When MT first interviewed you guys in 2004, you had some harsh words for Proof back then. How important was it that you guys mended ways and became friends with Proof again before he died?
5 Ela: Really wasn't harsh, just the truth. We are family so it worked itself out. We had a great time before he transcended. Big Proof forever!
MT: You guys come from an era where emcees sold CDs from the trunks of their cars. Have you found it challenging to sell and market your music in the social media age?
5 Ela: No. This is where we were mentally, already. We wanted to be able to get our music directly to the people and now we can. We love it!