Knowledge Of Self – Poor Righteous Teachers
February 15, 2007, 6:00 pm
Filed under: Album Reviews

Although Poor Righteous Teachers’ influence within the genre of hip hop is undeniable, I am the first to admit that I have slept on their material somewhat. They are one of those groups that I know are great, like almost everything I hear and yet have never been lucky enough to come across their albums on used CD hunts and am unwilling to pay the often extortionate prices that they go for on Amazon/EBay. I did have the good fortune of stumbling across their fourth album ‘The New World Order’ though, and in response to a request from Vlandro over at Underrated Hip Hop, I’m throwing it up.

The group’s roots lie in the teachings of The Nations of Gods and Earths, more commonly known as the Five Percent, and this conscious outlook permeates the majority of their material. ‘The New World Order’ is no exception, with lyrical content often surrounding the progress of the ignorant, the semi-enlightened and those that have true knowledge of self. Wise Intelligent is definitely the strongest of the group’s two MC team, and in fact, Culture Freedom contributes relatively little to the album other than joining in for chorus hooks and the odd verse here and there. There are some pleasing guest spots on here as well, with Nine, Brother J, The Fugees and KRS all making appearances.

What I like about this album is that the production still comes off relatively hard; there are enough kicks and snares to satisfy any fan of the mid ’90s era. There is also a strong reggae influence on some of the cuts with appearances from reggae legend Jr. Reid and Sluggy Ranks which are generally successful (I find ‘Dreadful Day’ a little bit cringe-worthy). The rap/reggae standout for me is ‘They Turned Gangsta’, which is about as good as any cut that I have heard that has combined elements of the two genres.

Very few hip hop artists have managed to make the turbulent transition between eras within the genre without coming off as behind the times, overly try-hard or in the worst of cases, straight wack. Considering that this was the group’s fourth album, it is remarkably consistent and feels uncontrived. There is a sense that PRT were still following their own musical course here without feeling the pressure to adhere too closely to contemporary trends within the genre. For this reason, ‘The New World Order’ is a success, and it is a demonstration of the talent and longevity of the crew. Just writing this has made me realise that I need to wake my sleepy arse up and get a hold of their earlier material: any links and comments greatly appreciated.

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