Arrested Development are planning to reintroduce their Southern blend of
hip-hop, rhythm and philosophy to the world.
They're set to begin recording a new album in May, their first since
1994's Zingalamaduni. They plan to release the new record later
this year. "This'll be the first time we've been together as a group in
five or six years," Speech, the group's songwriter, said Thursday.
In the meantime, Speech is getting ready to release his second solo album,
Hoopla, which hits stores in July.
Arrested Development received almost immediate acclaim for their 1992
debut, 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life of... , which
included such catchy spiritual and political tunes as "Tennessee"
(RealAudio excerpt) and "Mr. Wendal"
(RealAudio excerpt). They landed a headlining spot along with rockers
Alice in Chains on the following year's Lollapalooza tour.
Speech (born Todd Thomas) said he and the other five members of the
group -- DJ Headliner (born Timothy Barnwell), percussionist Rasa Don,
dancers Montsho Eshe and Aerle Taree, and spiritual advisor Baba Oje --
have worked out the personal differences that caused them to go their
separate ways after Zingalamaduni, which is now out of print.
"Our attitudes weren't really right at the time," Speech said. "God made
it work out for us."
Speech said he has written eight songs for the upcoming sessions, though
he doesn't know if those songs will make the record or not. The group
will record at Speech's home studio in Fayetteville, Ga., 25 miles south
First, though, the 30-year-old Speech will be working to support
Hoopla, a more R&B- and vocal-oriented album than the two
Arrested Development records.
The cheery, bouncy album features the combined results of recordings
Speech made over the past three years. He said he was legally prohibited
from releasing an album in the United States for two years after his
label, EMI Records, folded in 1997.
He did not sit idle, though, spending considerable time in Asia -- especially
Japan -- where he released a shorter version of Hoopla in 1998. He
said he received positive feedback.
"It came at just the right time," Speech said of his overseas sojourn.
"I wasn't on hold. I was able to keep an outlet for performing."
He signed with TVT Records, an independent label, last month. Lisbeth
Cassady, a TVT publicist, said it was unclear whether the Arrested
Development album would be released on the label as well.
The first single from Hoopla will be "Clocks in Sync With Mine,"
a laid-back piece of Otis Redding-style soul with a chiming guitar riff
and layered vocal harmonies.
Speech said the song is dedicated to his wife, Yolanda. "She understands
me, and I appreciate it," he said.
The album also includes a cover of reggae icon Bob Marley's "Redemption
Song," which Arrested Development has performed live.
"As an artist, I'm driven by this concept of freedom," Speech said. "The
song's been like an anthem for me. I still break out in tears during
performances of it."
Jonathan Daniel, Speech's manager, said Hoopla demonstrates his
client's maturity as an artist and his satisfaction with life. "He's
very comfortable with his world," Daniel said. "He's grown up a lot."
Speech, a Milwaukee native who began his musical career with the gangsta-rap
group Disciples of Lyrical Rebellion, said he looks back on Arrested
Development's accomplishments with fondness.
But he said he doesn't consider the group a forebear to bands such as
the Fugees, which incorporate soul, acoustic folk and hip-hop.
"It's all building blocks," he said. "We couldn't have done it without
Public Enemy, the Jungle Brothers or A Tribe Called Quest. At the same
time, artists like the Fugees or Erykah Badu couldn't have done it without
us. But now we're using the success of Lauryn Hill to re-enter the mix.
So it's all building blocks."