Arrested Development Celebrating 20 Years With New Cd LIVING
Two time Grammy Award winner group Arrested Development has a new album titled Living. Arrested Development (AD) is a creative hip hop rap group. They are true veterans in the business. Arrested Development when they first came on the music scene shopped their music on cassette tapes. Two decades later with YouTube, I-Everything and Apps, AD has free reign to bring their rap act to the next digital and mobile music generation. Arrested Development is best known as rap’s most creative group and for spearheading live instruments with sampling. What made Arrested Development different? Their Christian values in a season when rap music became filled with violent lyrics and degrading women. AD sort to celebrated African-American culture and history. We are excited at their return of the fundamental Hip-hop vibe Arrested Development is known for.
I had the pleasure of speaking with one of the members Speech, to catch up on what’s next for Arrested Development. The last time I saw AD was at Jack The Rapper Music Convention (clearing my throat) one of the industries best music seminar, no longer and none have replaced. Most of Arrested Development fans know and remember Tennesee with Dionne Farris, People Everyday, Mr. Wendal, Africa Inside Me, Bloody and Greener. Their popularity caught the attention of film director Spike Lee, who used their song Revolution for the closing credits for the biopic of Malcolm X. Speech was dragged into a messy lawsuit with major record labels, publishing companies & a legendary recording artist. Because of that lawsuit, Speech and the group have had all their publishing royalties held, which is their main source of income. So touring has been their source of income and they are very thankful to their loyal fans and new fans. Arrested Development also had to address Fox for trademark infringement regarding their new series Arrested Development. These issues will not be addressed in this interview but you can watch TV One’s Unsung with Arrested Development for the 411 which will air July 2012.
Throughout the years Arrested Development have been performing and spreading Love, despite trials. “Love is the catalyst to repair every problem in our world. Sure, everyone of us cannot fix everything but by rolling up our sleeves we change the very fabric of what’s wrong in our world and make things better,” says Speech. Arrested Development is about “Life Music” from songs to serving. Getting in there with everyday people to change the worlds outcome. Speech (author of the book) What Is Success? How To Be Successful God’s Way, also, leads a ministry of artists & entertainers, choosing to mainly fight the battles people have on a more spiritual front. “The spirit is ground zero for whatever corrodes the world. I used to be more concerned with politics, cuz I thought it was where change happens, but I’ve since learned that the true battle field is in the heart. If you get a heart to see the world differently it affects everything from politics, family to relationships,” says Speech. Arrested Development’s guitar player JJ Boogie agrees; having met Speech in church. JJ now teaches advanced Bible classes and conducts lessons that help people think of the spiritual realm more practically. Speech & JJ, have informal bible studies with everyday people to help make the spiritual realm more relatable. Za’ (AD’s bass player) takes a more constitutional approach, teaching people to understand their rights as U.S. Citizens & uncovering ways the everyday person gets duped. “I want to empower people,” he adds. Eshe models and through the art of dance, trains inner-city kids to use their gifts for positive! The group donates their money & time to various organizations, foundations and equip inner-city students to reach their college goal. This group really knows how to put their money where their mouth is. I was very excited about their return to the States and had to catch up on what has been going on.
Nie: Well I am glad that you guys have a new release the industry is in need of that Arrested Development sound. Tell us where have AD been?
Speech: Well we are about to do a US tour in celebrating our 20 year anniversary. We have been touring in Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe, Australia and Japan. It’s going to be a good tour, since we’ve been overseas. It is great to come back and perform our old stuff and bring them up to our latest project Living.
Nie: I am in. You guys are going 2 decades strong. Do you still have the same members in the group.
Speech: For the most part but we have new members in the group like JJ Boggie on guitar, my man Za on bass, and Eshe on vocals what is funny, they are not actually new. They have been with us for the last 10 years but they will be new to those who don’t know all that has been going on with us.
Nie: So, for all this time you guys have been overseas performing?
Speech: Well, we took a hiatus for about in 1996. Everyone was able to attend to their family need. Member’s wanted to raise their kids and do other stuff. During that time off, I was able to do a solo projects. Then in 2000 we released records but we released them in Japan. To our surprise we ended up doing very well in Japan, so we stayed there for a while since the sales were good.
Nie: Wow! that’s cool. I am always amazed how well artists do overseas. You have been through it all, you have seen it all and I know you have learned a lot. Give us your perspective regarding the music industry and rap music.
Speech: Oh my gosh! Wow! It has changed in so many ways. I mean we’ve been around since cassettes. Now it’s all internet. I think in a good way, as a hip hop artist you are able to make more money than before. The bad side, I don’t think people really appreciate music like they did back in the day. When we were coming up, you enjoyed looking at the cover and reading the credits. There was a special interest and connection.
Nie: Yes! I agree. the digital market kinda killed that. Is Arrested Development a live hip hop band?
Speech: We play live instruments and we sample. My background as a Dj is what contributed to the concept. Actually, sampling helped me to understand live music performance better. Some of the sample grooves we used, would be from live bands not drum machines. We were the second hip hop group to use live music. The first was Stetsasonic and second was Arrested Development. We believe in that tradition of bringing that type of vibe to our music. Another way the industry changed. In 1996 a law was passed The Telecommunications Act of 1996. That allowed these big corporations to monopolize the media. One company can own all the radio stations, newspaper, video channels and that is when BET got brought out. Which means less people are making the choices regarding the music that would be played on the airwaves. It took away from the golden years of hip hop when you had everything from Mc Hammer to Public Enemy and everything in between on the radio. Now you just have one thing on the radio and pretty much everything is left out there.
Nie: When you say out there its cyber world. The cyber world we now call the internet. However, it is the catalyst that is developing effective approaches for artist such as your group AD and others too return to the market and reach fans. I am an example. When I heard AD was coming back on the scene I visited your site, I am listening and loving the new single and now I have the access to one of my favorite groups. Then you have internet radio, what is your take on that?
Speech: Internet radio has helped out a lot. The only thing wrong with that is getting people to know that you are there. Compared to mainstream radio we all know the call letters and know where to find them. We may not listen to them anymore because they are not playing the variety of music that is really out. I mean yeah! a lot of things have changed in the industry both good and bad. We have seen a lot of trends come and go and we just want to stay current.
Nie: In all of this what have you learned? Being signed, not signed and returning back to the scene?
Speech: Umm, I have learned a lot but I don’t want to give away too much. We have an Unsung episode coming on TV One next month July and it would pretty much answer your question. I encourage people to watch it and it will explain a lot of things. One thing I will share. When we came out we had to be the artist, tour, market and promote and figure out what pockets of the United States would enjoy our sound. It is different from a Rock group who just gets to focus on their music. Labels know what to do with Rock and Pop music. However, the labels had no clue how to deal with hip hop music and that is one thing hip hop artist have to know. They must know how to market themselves. Also, being a conscious group there were a lot of politics. Today, since most of the labels are owned by one company unlike before. That one company’s viewpoint regarding conscious music will overrule the day. If that company does not believe in conscious music they are not going to push it. There are only 3 big labels today. When we first came out we had a choice because there were different labels. So, if one label didn’t feel good about our music we just went to another. That option is no more.
Nie: What about the freedom of being independent in the new age technology?
Speech: It is incredible to be an independent artist. The creativity and freedom is good. The tough thing about it is getting it to the mass. Distribution is the key. Online you can potentially reach the entire world but POTENTIALLY is the key word. You still need advertising dollars. So, it will take longer with no money to let people know you are out there and it will take a real budget to let people know you exist. This is an issue we have to find a way to overcome.
Nie: I totally, agree with you. Advertising is key and what I have learned is you have to know someone because the advertising dollars is locked up like you said with the telecom act. If you are not in the mainstream or know. Then there is No Ad Dollars for the internet radio and online African American networks to really say hey I am here. Which makes for us to partner like they do and be committed to the mission of getting the news out about new artist or previous artists returning to the market. One of the reasons I started the UBM and our partnerships have help us to survive in this changing market for 13 years. I have a new campaign going on now with artists who have come by UBM as “Key Players.” I thank you for being a “Key Player” as well and I believe the Revolution of quality music in our community will have a voice. Especially, through UBM. I feel so comfortable speaking with you. I can talk music all day go figure. So, tell us about the album get some more PR in this. Lol
Speech: You can expect the Arrested Development vibe on Living. Now that we are back together again 1 Love is one of the lyricist on the album and really shines. It’s like when Phife was let loose with Tribe Called Quest. Some of the Songs have a banjo playing. This album has a mixture of sound a little of everything on this one.
Nie: When will the album be available?
Speech: July 2012 can visit our website and Living will be release on I-tunes and all the online outlets. We are even releasing a vinyl version. When you visit our site you can enter to win a day with us and be featured in our next video. So, Urbanbuzzmag.com visit us www.ArrestedDevelopmentMusic.com.
Nie: Well, Speech it has been a pleasure just talking with you and you have UBM’s media support as Arrested Development returns on the scene. One thing I find is an artist can do the whole PR circuit and then it’s over. The reason why we call our guest “Key Players” which is our signature tag, we agree to stay in contact. It’s not just, oh this group is coming out with a new project but you can always calls us or email us when you’re in NYC and keep us in the loop, so, we can keep our readers in the loop . So, thanks so much for stopping through.
Speech: We will be in NYC soon at BBQ’ s, so check for us next month we are doing a lot of shows and want everyone to come out and celebrate with us and don’t forget to watch the Unsung “Arrested Development.”
Nie: I will watch since you won’t give up the jewels. Lol, Again thank you and I will see you when you get here nyc. God’ Will.
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