Tuesday, February 25, 2020

File Under NJ Deep Cuts: Scott Lark Meets PRT

Okay, I was feeling lazy today.  I wanted to go back and listen to a Poor Righteous Teachers song without actually getting up and fetching the record.  So I searched it up online, and it doesn't appear to be anywhere on the 'net.  I mean, there's a listing for it on discogs, the 12" is for sale on a few online shops, and of course it's listed on my PRT page.  But not only does the music not seem to be available anywhere, but there's virtually no information out there about it, including the fact that it's a rare Scott Lark guest spot.  Well, I guess this is the exact kind of situation I started the site for, so hey world, let me tell you about this record.

"Save Me" b/w "Dangerous" is PRT's last record together (Wise Intelligent is, of course, still very active solo), having come out in 2001 on Fully Blown.  Or maybe that should be "Dangerous" b/w "Save Me," since if you look closely at the label scanned above, the "Save Me" side is marked both Side A (on the left) and Side B (at the top).  That's not the only error on the label either (the also list the Street version as Clean and vice versa).  Anyway, "Save Me" / "Dangerous" is the Teachers' only record for them, but Fully Blown was a nice, albeit short lived little label, having put out collectible singles by artists like Chubb Rock, Paula Perry, Prince Po and was responsible for pretty much Scoob Lover's entire post-Big Daddy Kane career.  Throw in the fact that I like this substantially more than PRT's previous indie single on Exit 7A, and yeah, Fully Blown was good stuff.

One thing that might be helping this rise above their 7A stuff is that it's entirely written and produced by PRT, whereas their previous indie material was often credited to unknowns like Mr. Mims and Masada.  Admittedly, you might've spotted The Almighty Scratch Devastator Lyvio G.'s name on the label, but he's just listed as an Executive Producer, which I think just relates his connection to the label overall rather than any musical involvement in the song itself.  Besides the main "Produced and Written by Poor Righteous Teachers" credit, those proper names under the song title are the three members of PRT.  Of course, one would assume that Scott Lark wrote his own verse, so who knows.  I doubt anybody's getting screwed out of bajillions in royalties here no matter how it breaks down.

So yeah, "Save Me."  This definitely sounds like it's from 2001 alright, with this kind of smooth studio pop sound and Culture Freedom's verse especially sounding rather Bad Boy inspired.  And I know, that probably sounds like the last thing you want to hear about a PRT record.  On paper, it's a left-handed compliment, but as a one-off, they make it work for them surprisingly well.  They way each verse rides the rhythm is super catchy, and everybody's wordplay is clever without being saddled with dated punchlines.  Plus, the hook is this brilliant vocal sample loop of Olive Oyl from the Popeye cartoons crying out for help that adds a real, classic/ quirky 45 King element to the song. No, it's not as great as their classic Profile singles, but it's honestly pretty dope.

And Scott Lark has the freshest verse of all, which is saying something, because Wise Intelligent very rarely gets shown up by anybody on a record.  It's all silly lyric bending, with the focus on sounding good rather than saying anything particularly witty or insightful: "bananas, I kick ill stanzas in my pajamas."  That's just the playful nature of the song, and it's hard to be mad at hearing the Teachers cut loose and having a little fun for once.  There's also an uncredited female MC on here (I mean, both guests are uncredited, but I know Scott Lark when I hear him), who probably comes weakest of the bunch, but she still holds up her portion of the song well enough.  If anybody has any idea who that is, please comment; I'd love to know.

Anyway, flip this over and we get another nice one: "Dangerous," which lets them bring back their reggae side.  It's got a more natural sounding instrumental, a sung chorus, and Wise Intelligent deftly bouncing billions of syllables.  If "Save Me" was an amusing excursion, this feels more comfortably at home in the Teachers' wheelhouse.  Who else could reference Amadou Diallo while spitting game to a girl?  It all makes you wish they'd managed to get that Declaration of Independence album they'd been working on out there (were these two songs meant to have been on it, or were they recorded exclusively for Fully Blown? I have no idea), if only to prove they could still do it even without Profile's backing.  And maybe Scott would've received some more shine if his name was actually printed on the jacket credits of an album that made its way into peoples' homes.  Oh well.  That's indie record collecting for ya.  At least this neat little 12" is out there and inexpensive.

1 comment:

  1. Declaration of Independence was briefly available as a digital download. I dont think this was on it.

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