Arrested Development (AD) are true trailblazers within hip-hop music. Since 1991 they’ve championed colorful sounds, while spreading a unique mixture of consciousness and musicality around the globe. AD’s hit song “Mr. Wendal“ brought much needed attention to the plight of the homeless and the group gave half of that singles royalties to the National coalition of the homeless. Their dance smash, “People Everyday” (Metamorphosis mix) addresses the tension between ignorance & consciousness, while paying homage to Sly & the Family Stone.
MTV’s Buzz Clip was the first major video outlet to play their music video, “Tennessee” which exposed them to the broader world. Spin Magazine, New York Times, LA Times among many others juggernauts featured AD on their covers. Later, the group would also become recipients of the NAACP image award (1993) plus a Soul Train music award.
Despite their topics being an analyzation and celebration of black reality in America, people of all backgrounds relate to Arrested Development’s music. The Grammy’s we’re among the first to “get it!” AD won two Grammy awards (1993 – Best New Artist & Best Rap Single – Tennessee), Rollingstone Magazine named them band of the year in 1992 and they were the first, and last rap group (thus far), to win the Grammy’s coveted Best New Artist award.
Arrested Development was reportedly the first African – American artists to donate to the African National Congress (ANC) to end the pains of apartheid. Sharing the stage with Nelson Mandela in South Africa (1994) was a highlight for the group! Their representation of eclectic African clothing, diverse beats & pan-African lyrics, flew in the face of the mostly celebrated thug, pimp, sex-craved jezebel and drug-dealer stereotypes.
Arrested Development was the first ever in rap music to have an elder (Baba Oje) who brought wisdom to the youthful energy of the group. AD was the 2nd ever in hip-hop to tour with a live band, to have female and male members, plus boast a message of hope, change and celebrating life. They were poised to change the direction of rap forever, but that would not end up happening. Some theorize that major labels and other powers sabotaged the groups success to keep the masses from activism and consciousness. Others note the groups inner turmoil as the culprit.
Either way, the collective took a hiatus between 1995 and 2000. Since 2000, they’ve released numerous albums primarily overseas, each garnered the group top ten hits in Asia and major tours throughout the world. (See 20th Anniversary Tour)
When asked recently about the state of hip-hop during the last two decades, AD front man Speech, commented “there is little to no balance; the flood of rappers turned moguls reflects how the genre is losing it’s creative spirit. We said in our first album, we won’t sell out just to be sold out and we haven’t, I’m very proud of that”.
The group has always been a big family of members. Present members are: Speech, 1 Love, Tasha LaRae, Fareedah Aleem, Za’, and JJ Boogie. Previous members include: DJ Kemit, Nadirah Shakoor, Montsho Eshe, Aerle Taree, Rasa Don, Headliner, Nicha Hilliard, Kennedy, TallBoy & Ajile. Since their beginnings Arrested Development has always been a collective, thus guest artist frequently graced stages and recordings. Some notable guest include: Dionne Farris, Laurnea, Paulette, Toni & Foley (Miles Davis).
In 2012, the group released a powerful mix-tape called, “Standing At The Crossroads” (signifying the choice of ignorance or freedom). Their lead single, “LIVING“ and it’s music video (directed by: The Feel, The Ingredient & Speech) won the coveted L.A. MOVIE AWARD, among many other film festal awards. “Living” went to the top of the college radio charts in the U.S. and #3 on the pop radio charts in Malaysia.
The rest of Arrested Development’s biography is still being written with new music, tours and collaborations, their newest album being “SPLASH.”