the exception of perhaps The Roots no other group in the
history of hip-hop has offered such an alternative to
the aggressive negative gangsta rap pushed forward onto
a gullible public. Indeed, with the exception of perhaps
the audiences at the Jazz Cafe, London to which they
returned on a regular basis since they began touring
again in 2000 most of us forgot how popular they used to
4 million sales of a debut album in 1992, the most
critically acclaimed recording for MTV Unplugged in 1994
and two Grammy awards. But they were always more than
just musicians, they were a socially conscious and
politically aware movement determined to leave their
mark on the world with donations to the homeless and
others through their music sales.
Their return to 'wax' to use the term applied by lead
vocalist and AD founder Speech in the title track of
the new album is a 12 track celebration of 'life music'
with infectiously swinging grooves and socially
conscious vibes. Overall they appear to be on a mission
to bring together all of the positive people of the
world so that hope can be brought to the challenges of
life. In 'I know I'm bad' the wordplay lyrics
of Speech refer to the greater importance of spiritual
wealth above anything of a material nature whilst the
addictive,boucy and summery 'Sunshine' speaks
with great emotion on the issues involved in falling in
love with a white girl and rising above the prejudices
to focus on the person underneath. Eshe, the groups main
dancer takes the lead vocals on the raggafied 'How
far is Heaven' a philosophical question
posed to those in challenging situations. Throughout the
album the female vocalising at times can bring
goosepimples to the fore no more than on the jazzier yet
still soulful 'Caught Me.'
year a friend persuaded me to go and see a free concert
on Santa Monica Pier. It turned out to be Arrested
Development having a party with thousands on the beach.
Just another day in LA? No, this was Arrested
Development showing people a good time through
their music and leading the way along a road which
we are all going down but this time finding hope and
love on the way not violence and hatred.
is a milestone album. Thank God they are back!