Arrested Development – 3 Years, 5 Months And 2 Days In The Life Of…(1992): Review

arrested

Produced by Speech
Label – Chrysalis/EMI

Critically adored on its release, “3 Years…” was in every essence the softer Southern response to the harder edged hip hop of the East and West coast. Brushing aside the machismo and nihilistic tendencies of the Gangsta rap phenomenon that had appeared on the scene, they espoused peace, love and Spirituality with stories of benevolence to the homeless, feminism, black unity and brotherly compassion. Resolutely optimistic, the messages are played over relaxed 60s influenced R&B rhythms which draw obvious comparisons to Sly & The Family Stone. Leader Todd Thomas (AKA Speech) delivers his lyrics with a relaxed, uncontrived, almost empyreal air, rarely evoking a sense of altercation for his positive direction.

arrested1

The highlight, “Tennessee” references the historical struggle for African Americans in the South, but rather than the obvious sloganeering, Speech’s ideology is to reclaim heritage on a Spiritual level to further enhance integration, peace and understanding. The rework of Sly & The Family Stone’s “Everyday People” is loose, down tempo, but fun and understandably the easiest sell to the masses. The unapologetic “Mr Wendal” casts the homeless man not as the victim, more the knowing sage living a life without the pressures of modern life. Unfortunately, the continuous sermonizing becomes wearing and there’s a feeling that the group’s profound visions are a little over earnest at times, bombarding the listener with line after line of politically correct passages at the expense of a decent engagement with the tunes. Pontificating on the world’s ills is fine, but one feels that the group would have been better served by offering snapshots of their vision rather than devoting song after song to self conscious musing. That said, “3 Years…” is still a fine album on the whole and a gentle reminder that 90s hip hop was not all threateningly dark and menacing.

7/10

Track Rating
1 – Man’s Final Frontier 7
2 – Mama’s Always On Stage 8
3 – People Everyday 8
4 – Blues Happy n/a
5 – Mr Wendal 8
6 – Children Play With Earth 6
7 – Raining Revolution 7
8 – Fishin’ 4 Religion 7
9 – Give A Man A Fish 7
10 – U 7
11 – Eve Of Reality 6
12 – Natural 6
13 – Dawn Of The Dreads 6
14 – Tennessee 9
15 – Washed Away 6

Tennessee

People Everyday

Mr Wendal

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