Arrested Development and their emceeing spokesperson Speech have traveled the entire realm of what it is to be a Hip-Hop group. From Grammy recognition to indie free releases; chart topping to ‘big in Japan’ status; shaking hands with Nelson Mandela, legal wrangles with big TV studios and always keeping vibrations positive whilst tackling social ills… Here is our interview with Arrested Development
Q. ‘Delusions of Adequacy’ was slated as finished in 2013.. when can we expect it and what is the main message you want listeners to take away from it?
I’m very picky about what goes out & when. The album of that title, is indefinitely on hold. I’m waiting for a new musical platform that will promote music better than existing label situations, THEN I could see releasing that material.
Q. In the past, you [Speech] have alluded to being a teacher if you were not a Hip-Hop artist. With Bun B, GZA, Killer Mike as well as yourself etc conducting lectures at various universities, have you given thought to what you would teach over a whole semester?
It would be my pleasure to teach about Black history, but also connect the dots between our past, present and future. I started a website called, BlackExistence.com in the meantime, that starts with that same mission.
Q. What makes ‘Black Environmentalism’ so specifically relevant to the Black community in the hood? Can it be compared to the relationship of ‘(black)’ womanism’ to euro-centric feminism?
Environmental issues aren’t exclusive to any group of people or class. By nature, our food, air and energy supply is a human issue, that everyone should be aware of. The fact that Europeans have been the main group spot-lighted within this movement is quite sad because, indigenous peoples have historically been the catalyst for environmental activism. So in essence, it’s always been the brown people’s passion & movement, that has more recently been adopted by Europeans as well.
Q. Who do you check for in the current generation of Hip-Hop arists? What draws you to a new artist?
I’m a fan of music and hiphop in particular, so I listen to pretty much anything, but what inspires me, is surprising to most people. I tend to like Drake, Jay-Z, Kanye, J. Cole, Kendrick Lamar and the like. I’m a fan of big concepts and they tend to try various big concepts in their material, as opposed to simply releasing a single that sounds good or radio friendly. I also like to see evolution in artists. (This is regardless of whether I agree with their lyrical content) So, any artist that comes with a concept, I tend to enjoy what they deliver.
Q. You have interacted with Nelson Mandela. What social leader(s) today (known or less familiar) would you want to build with?
I admire Farrakhan probably the most, after him, people like Sharpton etc are all people I respect. My belief is that, anyone who chooses to carry the flag of justice as their life passion, I want to help that cause. Like my music passions, endorsing a leader, doesn’t mean I endorse their entire message, it just means I respect their hustle and the niches that they cover.
Q. Everywhere across the world, Black people are persecuted. Whether it’s black kids shot by police in the States or indigenous dark skinned people in Asia being treated like 3rd class citizens. What is the first step in finding solutions for this pandemic?
The biggest problem is a change of consciousness. Once we see ourselves as one, united by a common ancestry, glory and struggle, then we can see our present day desire for freedom as a continuation of our ancestor’s struggles. We pick up where they left off, not start a new. We are empowered and uplifted, positioned to stand on the shoulders of our ancestors. We are not alone whether American, Asian, African etc.
Q. What advice would you give to younger artists in developing a compelling and exciting live show?
Get inspired by our past legends and their shows! There’s a lot to lean on. Artists like Sam & Dave, Parliament, Prince, Michael Jackson etc. they set the bar high, we should try to bring it like that!
Q. Females are still under-represented in Hip-Hop. Please shout out your favourite female Hip-Hop artists and tell us why we should check for them
Some of my favorites are Nikki Minaj — simply for her presentation and flow. (Not her content) I like M.I.A for her originality in visuals, musical selection and flow. Lastly, Ana Tijoux for her music and flow (although she rhymes in French)
Q. What do you do to have fun away from music?
I love movies, tv binge watching and nature.
Q. Does the name ‘Arrested Development’ being used for a show about a upper-middle class white family still piss you off?
No. What does make me mad is that FOX as a big corporation had no respect for us and our trademark of the name. They had to pay us for that disrespect.
Q. If y’all could have any superpower what would it be?
To be at peace
Q. Where are your Grammy figurines?
In my living room on a shelf with spot lights on them. We’re proud of our many successes!
Catch Arrested Development in the UK this year! For more details click here.