Souls of Hip Hop

Throwback: Arrested Development

February 02, 2021 Arrested Development Season 2 Episode 1
Souls of Hip Hop
Throwback: Arrested Development
Chapters
0:51
Music & career
4:28
Japan
5:29
Founding Arrested Development
6:39
Producing for Spike Lee
9:43
Legal dispute with TV show
11:00
Hit me baby one more time
12:38
Going independent
13:21
Performing for Al Gore
14:48
Crunk in Atlanta
19:15
Mass media
24:07
Rise of social media
Souls of Hip Hop
Throwback: Arrested Development
Feb 02, 2021 Season 2 Episode 1
Arrested Development

In 2006, Arrested Development released their album "Since the last time" and were touring in Europe, where I got to hang out with them and interview their lead emcee & producer Speech.
 
We chat about their career, producing for Spike Lee, the depiction of hip hop in mass media, performing for Al Gore, legal disputes with the TV show, the crunk scene in Atlanta and social media's influence on the music industry.
 
You can find Arrested Development here:
www.arresteddevelopmentmusic.com/
www.facebook.com/OfficialArrestedDevelopment
https://twitter.com/adtheband
www.youtube.com/channel/UC2022fsgG83l0p0r2AunBxA
www.instagram.com/arresteddevelopment__
 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/soulsofhiphop)

Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

In 2006, Arrested Development released their album "Since the last time" and were touring in Europe, where I got to hang out with them and interview their lead emcee & producer Speech.
 
We chat about their career, producing for Spike Lee, the depiction of hip hop in mass media, performing for Al Gore, legal disputes with the TV show, the crunk scene in Atlanta and social media's influence on the music industry.
 
You can find Arrested Development here:
www.arresteddevelopmentmusic.com/
www.facebook.com/OfficialArrestedDevelopment
https://twitter.com/adtheband
www.youtube.com/channel/UC2022fsgG83l0p0r2AunBxA
www.instagram.com/arresteddevelopment__
 

Support the show (https://www.buymeacoffee.com/soulsofhiphop)

Unknown:

What's up, y'all. This is Speech from the mighty Arrested Development.

Welcome to Souls of Hip Hop:

throwback edition. Between 2004 and 2015, I interviewed many hip hop artists and recently discovered some of the recordings in my archive. We want to share a selection of our favorites and bring you these throwbacks in between our regular episodes. Enjoy. In 2006, Arrested Development released an album called "since the last time". They were on tour in Europe to promote it and I got to meet up with them and have a chat with their lead emcee and producer Speech. So your new album starts off with this sample. "What have you been up to? It's been so long since we've heard from you folks on wax." So I would like to know, what have you been up to? Basically, the group has been really busy in the studio, we've been making this album, we've also been doing some other more underground albums, we released a record in Japan called heroes of the harvest, we released a record in a few other markets with a record called among the trees. And we knew that a lot of people who's going to be listening to this album, because this is a worldwide release, is going to be people that only knew us from the 90s. You know, so we wanted to give them a record that we felt like was a good sort of comeback album, then, since the last time is that, On your song "miracles", you say that you're too old to worry about whether a record will flop or not. What have you experienced that gives you this confidence? Basically, I feel like a lot of artists right now are afraid to flop, you know, so they don't want to speak about the things that they really may want to speak about. Right now in the hip hop game, there's a lack of exposure of artists that are speaking about anything other than the main stuff that's being exposed, it's the pimp / hoe game, the whole drug dealing game, the whole, you know, materialistic thing. that's being exposed, but every other side of hip hop isn't being exposed to a lot of artists out there. They see what stuff is getting put on, they see what stuff is making it and so they're scared to do anything other than that, because they feel like Yo, if I do anything else is not gonna get the time of day. It's all in miracles. I'm just saying, I'm not scared of it. You know, it's like, Okay, well, I've been in this game for too long for me to be scared of not making it. And we've made hit records, we sold 5 million, we've sold less than 5 million. So we've had the ups and downs. And for me, I just feel like you know, I gotta be true to who I am. In the title song "Since the last time" you spit the bar: Now we got the labels kissing our behind parts, we desired art, and never sold out for the high chart positions. That's exactly right. You know, for us, since the very beginning of our records, you know, we said on "give a man a fish", we said we won't sell out just to be sold out. And it's still the truth. Now, I mean, for us, we've really, as a group decided what's most important for us is to make music that's real, and true. And even if it doesn't really hit the charts, or capture the mainstream attention, like our first album did, we just wanted to make sure we stay true to something. You have been in the game for over a decade. How does this album show your evolution as artists and as a group? I think you're gonna hear a lot more live instrumentation on this album, you'll hear a lot more of the group members. You know, on the first album, I did most of the production and stuff. So I think on this album, people will be pleased to hear Xay on bass doing his thing. And JJ Boogie on guitar and he she's singing, Nisha, singing, Roz doing his thing. And, I mean, you're gonna just hear a lot more vocals, from the other group members, a lot more input from them. And also, I think the topics are a lot more different than what you tend to hear in most mainstream hip hop right now. So people will be really encouraged to see that that's basically stayed the same from the first stuff like, it's still very different from a lot of hip hop that you hear right now. You're often touring in Japan and have released several projects exclusively in Japan. What do you find unique about Japan and what attracts you to it? You know, I think Japan has been a like a savior for me and my family, especially because my solo career jumped off there in 1996. And I released my album everywhere, my solo album, but Japan really grabbed to it. And it was the number one record for weeks at a time and ever since then, I started releasing records only in Japan and I feel Like, they really get into the music because they look at it like an escape, you know, music that makes them happy, because that's a very stressful culture, you know, they have to do good in school, it's like part of their culture to do good in school, part of their culture to get a great job. And a lot of people commit suicide over there. A lot of people don't know that. But a lot of young kids literally commit suicide because of the pressure. I think a lot of our music sort of gets them an escape. Back in 1988, you found Arrested Development together with Headliner. How did you come up with the idea for the group? What inspired you? Honestly, I think it was a step by step process, because I had been doing hip hop for years before that. But in my local city, Milwaukee, which is where I'm from, the Midwest of the United States. And I'd released some records there and it was just more b-boy, just straightforward hip hop. And as I got older, I started to sort of find my voice better. I started to say, like, Okay, I'm not really like Run DMC, although I love that group, or I'm not like LL Cool J, although I love him, I got something a little unique that I need to be speaking about. And so my cultural viewpoints started to form and Public Enemy helped me with that with some of their music. And of course, I studied a lot and also groups like Sly and Family Stone and just seeing more opportunities to have more group members in the group really inspired me. Groups like soul to soul from the 80s inspired me. So I think other artists and other situations really was the thing that inspired me to start a group like Arrested Development. Spike Lee once asked you to write the theme song for his Malcolm X movie, which became the song revolution. Can you tell us about the process and how that made you feel? It was incredible. Spike Lee has always been a hero to me, he's been a hero to the black race. His cinema is probably some of the most important cinema and black cinema - period - from the beginning to now. And he's made more stars in black cinema than any other director in the history of movies for black people. I mean, he's brought about Wesley Snipes, and so many others, Denzel Washington and so on and so forth. Samuel Jackson and he gave so many people opportunities. So I feel like, you know, Spike Lee was a hero. So for me, to be summoned or for the group to be summoned to make something for him, especially for the X movie, it was a lot of pressure, it was a lot of stress, because the group that had just done something for him was Public Enemy, which is one of my heroes in hip hop. So they had done an incredible job at "Do the right thing" with "Fight the Power". And we were hoping to do the same type of Anthem, it didn't come off as good as fight to power. But we did our best, you know. Doing something for Spike Lee, that's just ... the press is like, so all over that. That it was just ... it was a huge opportunity. I really respect him for giving us a chance. In 1992, you put out your first album, which was a huge success and won two Grammys. Why do you believe that your second album wasn't quite able to leverage that success, at least sales wise? I think it was probably a few things. But one of the things was that the record label we were on EMI at the time, had folded on the inside and crumble from the inside out. We didn't know that until it was too late. But basically, it folded right after that record. And so myself as a solo artist, Gangstarr, D'Angelo, Arrested Development, all of us had to go find other labels. So D'Angelo went to Virgin, Gangstarr went to a smaller label, Arrested Development broke up, and my solo career, I went and did stuff in Japan. So I think that was one of the reasons. The other reason I think, the hip hop climate was changing. And it was turning into more of the P. Diddy time period, Biggie was really becoming a huge force in the game. Wu Tang was becoming a huge force in the game. And it was just a different time period for hip hop, I think it was becoming more of the Hype Williams video. And you know, that of the shiny outfits to watches, the whole, what would be known as the bling bling thing was sort of making its mark at that point. And Arrested Development is totally opposite of that, you know, and I mean, we we like nice cars and stuff like that. It's not like we're against it. But as a group, I mean, we're from the rural south. And, you know, we're talking about revolution, and it's just a totally different energy. So I think it was just, it just changed up on us. When Fox Network came out with the TV show Arrested Development, you sued them over the name and violation of your trademark. Can you tell us about that experience? It ended in our favor. It was good. We ended up settling out of court for that battle. And it turned out good for all of us, you know. I mean, they got a chance to use the name for their TV show, we were able to get some financial things from the deal. And the TV show, I mean, it only lasted I think two or three years. So it didn't do what we thought it was going to do, which was basically sort of take over our name, in a sense, you know, the history of cases like this was not too inspiring for us as a band, there was a band called Living Color in the 80s. And there was a TV show called in living color. And nobody remembered the band. Everybody remember that TV show, and it was a TV show called survivor, which still is in America, and there's a band called survive, and nobody remembers the band. Everybody remembers the TV show. So we had a lot of examples of things that didn't encourage us. So that's one of the reasons we felt like we had to fight it. But because Arrested Development, the TV show stopped, it didn't take over our name, in a sense. Talking about TV shows, you competed in a TV contest called "Hit Me Baby One More Time". How did you get into that? That was a pretty interesting time period, because they had a show called "Hit me Baby One More Time". And it was a corny show. As far as the description of it, we had never seen it, it was already a hit in London or something. And we were a little apprehensive or scared to do the show. But once we got there and we decided to do it, we felt like you know, it's good to reach millions of viewers. We're about to release a record, that it gives people a chance to know that we're back out. And if we win, we'll be able to give money to causes that we really believe in and so we did it. And it turned out great. I mean, we did win. Millions of fans were reintroduced to the group in one day. And we were able to give $20,000 to the Sudan. So for the issues of Darfur, and that was great. And we got a bunch of press from it. So for us it was ... it ended up being a really good day. How did you come up with the name Arrested Development? How it really started is a friend of mine just thought of the name. And I said, Man, that's just a hot name. Then as most groups do, you know, you come up with a name. But then you think of well, what can we use this name for? And what does it stand for, for us? And we came up with how in the black community, we feel like it's in a state of Arrested Development. And so we use the name as like a, basically like a tag of what we're up against. We're up against this state of Arrested Development. Why did you decide to leave the major label and go independent? To be honest, it was more so out of necessity. I mean, we realized that there was a lot of people that hadn't heard my solo music, we were releasing it in Japan. But other labels and other territories weren't interested in it. So we decided to start releasing it ourselves. And that was the best move we could have ever made. Because now we sell a lot of copies of it throughout the world, through email and sending out stuff. And we own the rights to it. And it gave us the idea of licensing our music throughout the world, even with Arrested Development, and owning it. And that's just been one of the best things we've ever done. You once got to perform for the presidential campaign of Al Gore and Hillary Clinton. How was that like? We did, well I did. It was with my solo career. And it was very cool, because I never understood how much politicians do have to serve. I mean, they really are servants to some extent, because they're around so many people, and they have to stay on their game, you know, to have to smile all the time and be nice all the time is it's pretty intense. And just working with the Secret Service was really interesting as well, the very high security. It's way higher than any rap gig, you know, even 50 cent, you know, it's higher even than 50 cent gigs. And it's like, you know, just Secret Service all over your equipment, checking the insides of your equipment for bombs. And it's just very intense, but it was cool. I really enjoyed hanging with Al Gore and Hillary Clinton and their daughter is it was all good. It was a good experience. I'll remember it forever. If you became president of the United States, what would you change? Well, I feel like that's, you know, it's a very far fetched thought, you know, it's hard enough to think of a black person is president, which I hope will happen soon. But it's even harder to think of me as President, but I think I would change a lot of things. I think, more than likely I would be assassinated in the first month. You're living in Atlanta right now. What is your opinion of the booming crunk scene? I get it. I'm not a huge fan of it because I think I'm just too old for it. To be honest. I'll take it's like it reminds me of Music I used to listen to in high school. And there's nothing wrong with that, you know, I feel like that's there needs to be music for high school, I only think I do think is wrong with it is this, the topics are adult topics. So like, in other words, strip clubs, which at least in America, you have to be 18 to even get into one or the drug game, which is more of an adult topic, and get the melodies and the feel of the music is so young. And I feel like that's pretty self destructive as far as just sending these very adult messages, like wrapped up in very elementary melodies, and very elementary v feelings. And I feel like that's so I don't even think the artists are doing that on purpose. I just think that it's sad that it's, it's, it's most effective to the youngest crowds. When if it was just for adults, then it's all good, because we could talk about strip clubs, it's all right, we're old enough to know if I want to do it, or if you want to do it, whatever. But kids is sad, you know, it's like, even if they don't know what I'm in love with a stripper means it's just sad that that's their favorite song. I'm in love with a stripper. It's like, I don't think kids should be exposed to that just yet. They should be a little older to decide what they want to do with that, okay, I'm down with that I want to go to strip clubs, or I want to, I want to sell drugs, I want to use drugs, whatever. But when you're younger and you don't eat, you're not able to really tell the difference between everything that's going on and tell what's right or wrong. is sad because they're being exposed to it too early. How have you seen rapid change as a genre from the mid 80s to the mid 2000s. Honestly, I feel like the biggest change that has happened is in the exposure of hip hop, meaning mainstream media, TV and radio and press has been only showing one side of hip hop lately. They've been showing the materialistic side, the gangster, the drug thing, the strip club thing, but they're not showing all the rest. And on top of all the rest from Jurassic to Roots to Common to Talib to Strange Fruit to, you name it, T.I. I mean, so many groups out there that all are called underground now, like the most groups in hip hop are called underground. And there's a few groups that are called mainstream, or called hip hop even like, now they're the ones is called hip hop and all the rest is called alternative hip hop or underground hip hop. And it's so sad because the stuff that's called mainstream is just a small fraction of what's out there. You got so much out there. It's not been exposed in the same way back in the golden era. I think they call it the golden era because you had everything you had Public Enemy talking about "Fight the power", you had NWA saying "F the police", you had Ice-T saying "cop killer". Then you had "2 live crew" saying hey, we want some booty. And then you had MC Hammer saying Can't touch this. Yeah, a tribe called Quest's Bonita Applebum. But yet everybody, and they were all on the charts. The charts were filled with different producers, different coasts, Too Short was large on the west coast and Oakland, Dr. Dre and NWA were large, P.E. was on the East Coast. Just, you know, it was this variety of stuff, right now, you know, on the charts, at least, is basically going to be a same people, your Jay Z's, your 50s, you know, your Game, stuff like that. And then of course, your Crunk stuff, at least in the states is really big. T.I. & Ludacris, blah, blah, blah. And, but they all basically talk them up pretty much the same type of topics in the club, having women, having cars and rims and jewelry. Maybe they talk about selling drugs, what they used to do if they used to sell crack or used to sell Coke, or whatever it is that same type of stuff to talk about. And nobody's talking about consciousness, political things or, or even about hip hop per se, like none of them are even talking about hip hop anymore. It's just about those things I just mentioned. I believe the push for this type of content is mainly coming from the media, especially because they like to categorize and decide what they promote. I agree. I feel like media has been the best and worst thing for hip hop music. And, you know, the truth is, especially media nowadays has become so small, huge companies have merged together to make even huge companies. And less and less people are control of more and more people's viewpoints of the music. So when you have like an American is basically three major labels that exist right now. All the other labels are under these three. And so when you have that situation, there's less and less people at the top. Make it decisions about what's going to be signed basically, same thing with radio, most radio stations are owned by one or 2, 3, 4 companies throughout the United States. And when you got that, they're all playing the same song. So it's become, like 52 states and become like one state. And so it's a sad situation, because one state will likely play 40 or 50 songs. Well, now the whole United States is playing 40 or 50 songs, while all the rest of those groups are left to fend for themselves. And it's, it's like the wild wild west out there. Everybody's on the internet. Everybody's trying to get interviews, if they can't, everybody's touring. We're just trying to stay relevant. Because all the other styles of hip hop other than the gangster stuff is sort of like an inconvenient truth for mainstream media, and they don't want to deal with it. The gangster stuff they love dealing with because ultimately mainstream media, it fits their lifestyle. Mainstream media is basically about making money, they want advertising. So gangster, hip hop fits that because gangs, hip hop's talking about going out and get yourself a Rolex or going to get in a Bentley, or going to spend your money at the mall. What do you got on? What are you wearing? So all of that fits the format? It's like, Okay, well, that's pumping up consumerism, well, mainstream likes that because then the advertisers for Courvoisier can advertise and Busta singing a song about it, and P Diddy is talking about it and everybody's sort of supporting it. And Courvoisier is rich, and everybody's rich, and everybody just has fun, political stuff doesn't fit that format. So it's like, they keep that ... they sort of have a closed door. And they don't say it. But that's what's happening. And it's clear cut because groups like the Roots are very influential in hip hop, but they're not large. They're influential, but not large. They're not being promoted. You know? Talib Kweli is influential but not large. Whereas Jay-Z, Jay-Z is influential and large, it's a difference. You know, Dr. Dre is influential and large. Eminem same difference, but all of them are still talking about basically the same things. What would it take for the media to change its depiction of hip hop? Well, I think it always takes mainstream media or mainstream powers that be a long time to catch on to anything. You know, I think when Eric B and Rakim did it, it was truly new at the time, you know, when Slick Rick was doing it, it was really new, it was fresh. But it took them a takes mainstream media a long time to finally catch on, but when they catch on, they tend to take over. And they also tend to dilute it. And what I mean by that is Eric B and Rakim still had consciousness, though. You know, the truth is, they were wearing big gold chains. They were on Bentley's or Rolls Royce cars, but Rakim was also talking about 5%. And he was talking about, you know, the crescent and the star. And he was talking about, you know, raising up consciousness and Africa and all types of different topics. Whereas right now, at least, most what are called bling bling. I hate all these titles, but I think you'll know what I mean. Most bling bling artists aren't talking about too much of any of that they just talking about. They just keep in just the car part, just the gold chain part, and all of that they're not taking the consciousness with it. Do you think that the hip hop community can change the image and content of hip hop in the media? You never know, man, you never know. I feel like I believe in miracles though, I do believe that things can change. But we as the people got to make it happen. We got to stand up and stop being you know, she led to the slaughter. I feel like we got to really make our voices be heard about what we want to hear and our music. You know, Zulu Nation was trying to do that. They put out an email to everybody and like, yo, let's stand up. Let's tell these radio programmers what we will allow and what we won't allow it. He was talking to the hip hop nation. But not everybody really stands up. So one of our songs on our album is called stand is just saying stand up for what you really are about, just take that chance to make it happen. What are your thoughts on the recent rise of social media? I think it's good. I have no problems with MySpace, you know, I feel like it's blown up for a reason it's blown up number one, because people are struggling to find new ways to promote things. You know, a lot of really good groups I hear on MySpace, you know, I would never hear them anywhere else. Groups from here groups from overseas all the wa to United States. People ca hear stuff that's independent That sounds better than a lot o the stuff that's mainstream, t be honest. But you wouldn't hea it if it wasn't for MySpace. Yo Speech. Thank you so much for the interview. Do you have any last words you would like to share? Definitely, man. First of all, good interview. I appr ciate it. I appreciate anyb dy that researches and you know knows what they're talking abou when they speak to us and seco d of all, thanks to the fans here that support our musi . We really appreciate it. It's been 17 years of what we do an we definitely know for a fact t at we couldn't do it without he people that support us. So t ank you. Our theme music was beatbox by Denis the Menace and produced y Zede. A big shout out to th brothers from Switzerland The background music was produced by Taki Brano, a big hank you to our broski fro Providence. Our podcas basically runs on coffee. T keep our show running, you ca support us by buying a co fee through the link in our how notes. I am Candy. I'm DJ Razor Cut and this is Souls of Hip Hop.

Music & career
Japan
Founding Arrested Development
Producing for Spike Lee
Legal dispute with TV show
Hit me baby one more time
Going independent
Performing for Al Gore
Crunk in Atlanta
Mass media
Rise of social media