I got a chance to meet up with Arrested Development at Music Fest and follow up with an interview with Speech (Lead Vocals). Learn how they got started and where they are going from here:
DeAnna Brown / Speech
How exactly would you describe your music?
We call it life music. it’s a mixture of hip hop, soul, blues, folk and afro beat. But honestly we tend to go where ever we want at the time. That may include some Jazz as well. We want to mash it up a bit.
How did the group get started?
We started in 1987 at the Art Institute of Atlanta, I was looking for a DJ, and Headliner became the first member, other than me. After that we both were looking for more members. We started to do shows in local clubs and met more & more people that added to the vibe of the music.
Our most interesting find was Baba Oje’, I met him at School, and I always wanted an elder in a hip hop group. He’s now 76 yrs. old and rocks stages worldwide. It brings back the days when the youth and the elders did things together. The whole generation gap, is relatively a new thing.
Who is a part of Arrested Development?
It’s Me, (Speech) (Lead Vocals), Baba Oje’ (elder), Eshe (Dancer), RasaDon (Drummer), Za’ (Bass), JJ Boogie, (Guitar), Tasha (vocals), and 1 Love (vocals)
I see that you’ve been on tour, what would you say is your most
We had two shows to do in one day! Both of them were high profile shows and one of them was in my hometown of Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
We did a 3:00pm show in Denver, Colorado, with 20,000 screaming fans. Directly after the show we were escorted by Denver Police to a private air strip, we boarded our own private Jet (a first for us), and flew to Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Police escorted us (with sirens blaring, and traffic pulling over)to the largest venue in the city! The venue (the Lake Front ampitheatre) was one that I had grown up seeing my greatest music heroes in. So I was excited! Plus my high school friends and family were all waiting on my arrival! We got there just in time to perform! It was one of the greatest moments in my career!
Who has inspired you?
De La Soul, Public Enemy, Sly & the Family Stone. Of course there are STILL groups that inspire me today, so the list goes on, but those were some of the biggest.
Your music seems to have an inspirational vibe to it, how important do
you believe that is?
I grew up in a family of activists. My mom owns the largest Black newspaper in Wisconsin. (The Milwaukee Community Journal), My dad helps with that same paper. So our morning talks were about the community and what the problems were. BUT also what some solutions were too. That made it easier for me to make music that understood issues, but also spoke solutions.
A few weeks ago you got a chance to perform at Memphis’s Beale Street
Music Festival, Did you have a good turnout?
It was one of the biggest turnouts of the entire event! You couldn’t see the end of the crowd that came to see us. The promoter said they had never seen anything like it!
How do you feel about the current rap game in the South?
I think it’s lop-sided. The south has lately been branded as only the crunk scene. When in reality, it’s more broad in it’s contribution. Just look at Outkast, or Cee-lo (Gnarles Barkley), and of course Arrested Development. I am proud of the south for it’s musical contribution to the world!
Are you a fan of Memphis rap music?
Not really, but 1 Love, and Za’ (two of our members loves it!) :-)
What should we be expecting from Arrested Development in the future?
We want to stretch the boundaries of what’s considered black music and black culture.
What would you like to say to your fans?
We thank you so much! Our ride in this business has been amazing! We have given time and money to Sudan, Nelson Mandela & the ANC, the national coalition for the Homeless, Organizations fighting Human Trafficking, Green Peace, etc.
We appreciate your time and Good Luck to you and the crew in the
future. Stay Up!
Thank you guys for the love!