New World Order is Curtis Mayfield’s final album. He was paralyzed during the recording, but still managed to both sing and oversee the project. According to Australian radio station Triple J, Mayfield managed to painstakingly record his songs by lying on his back, the only way he could get enough air into his lungs, and singing one line at a time. After he recorded each line, the songs were edited together.
The album received a generally positive rating on AllMusic, where it was described as "a touching, moving comeback from Curtis Mayfield". The songs were described as "hit-and-miss", but it was said that the main strength of the record was that it illustrates Mayfield's ability to make music which is still vital.