Back in 1996, I was still picking shredded Memorexes of my beatdown double-decker tape deck. Panasonic. One blown woofer.
For the record: I shredded my New World Order tape. Twice.
Curtis Mayfield was a paraplegic when this one dropped. That's why they only shot one video for it—the title track—and he couldn't even tour to support it. Too bad; because NWO was phenomenal.
New World Order is just a clinic on how to make a dope concept album, regardless of genre. But as street albums go, NWO is one of the best ever. Curtis didn’t just drop songs he gave you floetic theses and symphonic stories. Each title was like the opening statement or hypothesis then he’d spend the next 4-7 minutes mixing soul, new jack, doo-op, 70s funk, neo-soul, everything he pioneered to show ‘n’ prove.
New World is no different.
From the opening track to “Goddang Song” and Oh So Beautiful” dude paints a picture of an Ossie Davis type older head speaking to younger generations with a lotta flavor and wisdom. The New World Order is coming, it’s just a question of whether or not you’re gonna be part of it or apart from it.
I remember bumping NWO back and forth with Jay’s Reasonable Doubt so it sounded like an old head conversing with a youngin’ gone horribly wrong.
Come to think of it, “Here But I’m Gone” plays like Jay’s Reasonable Doubt compressed into one somber, syrupy guitar lick seasoned track: How did I get so far gone/where do I belong/and where in the world did I ever go wrong/if took the time to replace what my mind erased… That could easily be a grown man’s answer to “D’evils” or “Can’t Knock The Hustle”.
The rest of the album is just beautiful writing, soulful arrangements and timeless stuff from a master.
Check out a few choice slices from NWO:
We People Who Are Darker Than Blue