Poor Righteous Teachers

Part of the growing contingent of Islamic-oriented message rappers, Poor Righteous Teachers formed in Trenton, NJ, when teenage friends Culture Freedom and Wise Intelligent (songwriting credits are listed as S. Phillips and T. Grimes) decided to form a more positive rap group as an alternative to the gangsta style (which they vehemently defend). Joined by DJ and producer Father Shaheed, the group recorded two albums (1990's Holy Intellect and 1991's Pure Poverty) stressing their religious beliefs and philosophy; in spite of sometimes neglecting their music for their message, the albums sold respectably well. 1993's Black Business proved to be their most musically satisfying outing, drawing praise for Wise's ability to use the style and intonation of a reggae/dancehall toaster; however, it was also criticized for its liberal sprinkling of homophobia. New World Order followed in 1996. ~ Steve Huey

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