Twenty years ago, Arrested Development rose high above the gangsta-dominated world of hip-hop as a band with a social conscience. Their music brimmed with defiant lyrics of hope and their actions matched their words.
After winning the best rap single Grammy in 1993 for its anthemic prayer-like hit Tennessee, Arrested Development donated sales profits to Nelson Mandela and the ANC. The single Mr Wendal highlighted homelessness, and the group donated half its royalty earnings to the National Coalition of the Homeless. It bolstered the group’s popularity and the album 3 Years, 5 Months and Two Days In The Life Of selling more than four million copies, but when a new wave of negative hip hop artists, demeaning women, glorifying drugs and promoting criminality excited the corporate record companies, Arrested Development took a break.
A new line-up reemerged in 2000, and has been continually touring, although in 2010, the spiritual guru of the band, Baba OJ, suffered a major stroke and is still undergoing rehabilitation. Founding member and front man Speech is now working with producer and hit maker Kevin “Khao” Cates (best known for his work with Jay-Z, R.Kelly, Snoop Dog) to prepare new music, loaded with powerful lyrics and pulsating grooves.