Arrested Development took the light, funky sound of the Native Tongues school of hip-hop (De La Soul, Queen Latifah), blended in the folk-blues instrumentation of their native South (harmonica, acoustic guitars), added uplifting, gospel-tinged lyrics, and became one of the most successful crossover acts in rap.
Todd Thomas (Speech)'s father owned a disco, but by high school he was a budding DJ who listened exclusively to hip-hop. In 1987 he moved to Georgia to study at the Art Institute of Atlanta. There he met Tim Barnwell and formed the unsuccessful 'Disciples of a Lyrical Rebellion'. They started going by the names 'Speech' and 'DJ Headliner'. In 1988 they decided to change direction. Rejecting gangsta-rap expressions like "nigga," "bitch," and "ho," they incorporated their Christian values into politically and philosophically charged songs that celebrated African-American culture and history. Inspired by Speech's belief that the black community needed spiritual rebirth, they renamed the group Arrested Development.
With the addition of drummer Rasa Don, the group's music became softer and funkier. By the time of its 1992 signing to Chrysalis, Arrested Development had expanded into a coed and multigenerational group, including Aerle Taree, Speech's cousin and designer of the group's clothing, dancer/choreographer Montsho Eshe; and elder spiritual adviser Baba Oje.
'Tennessee' featured the singer Dionne Farris, another "extended member" who ultimately left the group and had her own Top 10 single, "I Know," in 1995.
Aerle Taree departed and three new members joined for the summer 1994 release, Zingalamaduni, which means "beehive of culture" in Swahili.
In the 1990's he wrote a column for the Milwaukee Community Journal, his mother's newspaper, and lectured on college campuses.
In November 2003, the group sued the Fox network over the name of the TV show Arrested Development. The suit is referenced in the Arrested Development
episodes "Public Relations", "Motherboy XXX" and "For British Eyes Only".
In June 2005, the group won the first round of NBC's television series contest Hit Me, Baby, One More Time, performing "Tennessee" and covering Los Lonely Boys' "Heaven." They gave the proceeds ($20,000) to UNICEF.
Submit Interesting Facts