There are quite a few people who feel that music that is created to raise the consciousness of a particular community is irrelevant in the age of what William C. Bansfield calls the post-album age wherein the music created is commercially driven and marketed to a specific segment of society. Wise Intelligent, the front man for the influential hip-hop group Poor Righteous Teacher, always felt and continues to feel that he was galvanized by the spirit of the people to take up the mic to educate the masses. It is a tragedy that Wise Intelligent, who penned one of the best odes to Black women with “Shakyla,” is forgotten when it comes to bringing knowledge of self beat up and compressed into hip-hop form. “My thing is to touch through all your books and right into the heart of the man,” Wise Intelligent explains when asked what his mission is, “the natural law is in your heart. Love is the law and mathematics. All teachings are internalized and this is what I try to point out in my music.”
Poor Righteous Teachers (PRT) came on the scene in 1990 with the classic single “Rock This Funky Joint.” These Trenton, New Jersey natives dropped jewels made available from the teachings of Clarence 13X (affectionately known as Father Allah in the Nation of Gods and Earths) behind sparse and head nodding tracks. During the 1990s, PRT remained consistent with four albums which provided heavily needed knowledge and calls to uplift the Black community. What made PRT and Wise Intelligent so digestible is that they did not come off as preachy. Their aim was not to reach the college heads, but to reach the sisters and brothers on the corner. “I was locked up as a young man,” Wise explains, “this experience provided me the understanding of freedom. Freedom is very necessary. Crimes we were committing we were inflicting on our own people. We realized we were part of a problem because we were not helping our people. Then I came upon the lessons which gave us a black nationalistic foundation to begin to love our people. The state of the people today is what makes a group like PRT or Wise intelligent possible. When you have lawlessness, you need righteousness.” With this motivation, Wise Intelligent has written timeless joints that can be played for the young bloods and the grandparents as well. In his lyrics, Wise Intelligent has challenged, loved, inspired, and fought for his people.
Ironically Wise Intelligent, whose skill is matched by few, is never mentioned in the several questionable lists put out by numerous publications. “I guess I was the 51st MC,” he chuckled, ”the Source had 110, I must’ve been number 111th. It’s hard to understand why but I don’t dwell on it. I don’t force it. I write according to the time I write. The people need more. I am writing to that 19 year old whose mother is in jail. I’m writing to the sister who has to feed her children.” For Wise Intelligent, commitment does not stop at the mic. Currently, he is working on a book about brothers on the corner who decide to use their street prowess for revolutionary means in the same vein as Sam Greenlee’s Turk Freeman in The Spook Who Sat by the Door. He is also developing a youth organization that promotes everything from knowledge of self to literacy to savings and investment centered around the concept of LOVE, LIFE, LITERACY. In the meantime, Wise Intelligent will add to his discography with his upcoming album, “The Talented Timothy Taylor.”