Arrested Development (AD) are true trailblazers within hip-hop music.
Since 1991 they’ve championed revolutionary sounds, 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 their (Mr. Wendal) 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. Despite lyrics crafted specifically for blacks in a state of halted growth. And despite their topics being a analyzation and a celebration of black reality in America, their own parish were late in understanding and celebrating this group. The Grammy’s however, we’re among the first to understand! AD won two Grammy awards, Rollingstone Magazine named them band of the year in 92 and they were the first and to this date, the last in rap to win the Grammy’s Best New Artist award.
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 an NAACP image award (1993) plus a Soul Train music award. They we’re also the first African – American artists to donate to the African National Congress (ANC), sharing the stage with Nelson Mandela in South Africa! Their representation of black culture with eclectic, African clothing, diverse beats & pan-African lyrics, flew in the face of accepted and sometimes celebrated stereotypes of the black thug, the gangster, the pimp, the sex-craved hoe and the drug-dealer. Either you loved Arrested Development or you hated them, but you couldn’t ignore them.
They were the first to be celebrated and sell enough units to open minds & record executives budgets for the likes of: The Fugees, Black Eyed Peas, Erykah Badu, India Irie & The Roots. They brought recognition to the “civil rights” south in a Hip-Hop era that focused mainly on NY & L.A, giving way to hit groups like: OutKast, and The Goodie Mob. Arrested Development was the first in rap to have an elder (Baba Oje) who brought wisdom to the youthful energy of the rap. Their live band presentation, female and male members, and their message was poised to change the direction of rap forever! But that would not happen, some theorize that major labels sabotaged the groups success to keep the masses ignorant, others note the groups inner turmoil over money and power.
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 corporate moguls is a reflection of how the genre is losing it’s creative spirit and taking more of a “money is the bottom line” approach. We said in our first album, we won’t sell out and we haven’t, that’s what I’m most proud of”.
The group has had a number of member changes some include: DJ Kemit, Nadirah Shakoor, Montsho Eshe, Aarle Taree, Rasa Don, Headliner, Kennedy, TallBoy & Ajile. Since their beginnings in Atlanta Georgia they’ve always been a big collective of artist, dancers and even painters, thus guest artist frequently graced stages and recordings including: Dionne Farris, Laurnea, Paulette, Toni, Nicha, Foley, among others. The collective took a hiatus between 1995 and 2000. Since then they’ve released 4 albums, primarily overseas. Each album garnered the group top ten hits in Asia and tours throughout the world.
In 2012, the group releases a powerful mix-tape called, “Standing At The Crossroads”. (Signifying the degradation of the rap genre since the groups 20 year debut.) Their lead single, “LIVING“ and it’s music video (directed by: The Feel, The Ingredient & Speech) won the coveted L.A. MOVIE AWARD & was chosen as a finalist selection in the Peachtree Village International Film Festival. The Standing At The Crossroads mixtape is a motivational anthem with a world feel to it that once again analyzes, critiques and rebels against the status-quo content in rap today. The groups goal is to replace the state of Arrested Development in the African Diaspora with dignity, redemption and self-determination.