Arrested Development (group)

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Arrested Development
2018 Arrested Development Promo picture
2018 lineup
Background information
OriginAtlanta, Georgia, United States
GenresAlternative hip hop
Years active1988–1996, 2000–present
LabelsVagabond Records & Tapes
Associated actsThe Black Eyed Peas
One Love
Jason "JJ Boogie" Reichert
Tasha Larae
Fareedah Aleem
Isaiah "Zā" Williams
Past membersHeadliner
Kamaal Malak
Montsho Eshe
Aerle Taree
Kwesi Asuo
Nadirah Shakoor
Rasa Don
Baba Oje (deceased)
Nicha Hilliard

Arrested Development is an American alternative hip hop group that formed in Atlanta in 1988. It was founded by Speech and his ex-best friend Headliner as a positive, Afrocentric alternative to the gangsta rap popular in the late 1980s.


Arrested Development was formed in 1988 by rapper and producer Todd Thomas ("Speech") and turntablist Timothy Barnwell ("Headliner"). The group's debut album, 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of..., was the number-one album in the Village Voice's 1992 Pazz and Jop Critic's Poll[1] and in The Wire's 1992 Critic's choice.[2] The group won two Grammy Awards in 1993 for Best New Artist and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group, and were also named Band of the Year by Rolling Stone magazine. The debut album sold over 6 million copies worldwide and greatly influenced acts such as The Black Eyed Peas.

“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 the their native South (harmonica, acoustic guitars), added uplifting, gospel-tinged lyrics and became one of the most successful crossover acts in rap.”

- from The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001)

A few months later, the group was approached by film director Spike Lee, to compose a song for his upcoming biopic based on the life of Malcolm X. The group then recorded "Revolution", which appeared on the oldies-dominated soundtrack for the film, as well as the second half of its closing credits when the film was released in 1992.

Their 1994 follow-up Zingalamaduni, although Grammy nominated and critically acclaimed wasn't as successful and sold poorly due to restructuring of the record label personnel and severe lack of promotion. After the group broke up due to "creative differences" in 1996, Speech released a solo album which shot up the charts in Japan. The group reunited in 2000 and has been touring and releasing records via Speech's Vagabond Productions and Speech Music. Aerle Taree didn't return to Arrested Development because of vocal problems and DJ Headliner refused to rejoin the band due to business differences between himself and Speech.[3] Today Aerle is a poet and converted from Buddhism to Christianity.[4] DJ Headliner has since gone on to start his own business called Creative Royalty Group.[5] In 2010 Baba Oje had a stroke.[6]

Dionne Farris contributed guest vocals on "Tennessee" and toured with the band however was never actually a member.

Baba Oje is the group's spiritual elder. He and Speech met at the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee when they were both students. Baba Oje was 57 years old at the time.

In November 2003, the group sued the Fox network over the name of the TV show Arrested Development.[7] The suit is referenced in the Arrested Development episodes "Public Relations", "Motherboy XXX", "Sword of Destiny", 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" and donated the $20,000 proceeds to UNICEF.

The group's follow-up to their 2004 Among The Trees was Since The Last Time, released internationally (not in the U.S.) on September 18, 2006. Since The Last Time was later released in the United States on October 30, 2007, on Vagabond Record & Tapes, Speech's boutique label.

In March 2007, they toured Australia as part of a triple-bill, along with Simple Minds and INXS.

In 2008, Arrested Development teamed up with The Black Eyed Peas and performed at The Concert for Peace in Jerusalem, Israel to promote peace among Palestinians and Jews.

In 2010 the group released their ninth album Strong under Vagabond Records and Tapes, and licensed to the Japanese record label Cutting Edge, on December 9, 2009, and had a top ten hit with the single "The World is Changing" in Japan. In an interview with Songfacts, Speech explained that the track "Greener" takes on the issue of climate change from the perspective of the African American community.[8]

On January 8, 2011, they with Emmylou Harris performed at the festival first night of the Sydney Festival in Sydney, Australia to 50,000 people.

In August 2012, the group released its 10th album Standing At The Crossroads, recorded while touring internationally. The album, given away for free from the group's official website, took a lo-fi approach and was recorded entirely on a Mac laptop.[9] The same month they announced a new tour throughout the United States and Australia to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

On October 9, 2016, Arrested Development performed at the Delicious Festival in South Africa. A line up that included The Jacksons, Macy Gray, De La Soul, Elements of Life, Roy Ayers and local food celebrities Reuben Riffel, Sarah Graham. The next day members of Arrested Development drove out to Soweto and as usual encouraged many children at an orphanage then paid homage to Nelson Mandela at the location of his home.

In January 2018, Arrested Development performed on the Trumpet Awards television show to a viewership of 2.6 million people.

In May 2018, Sam Bathrick’s transformative film 16 Bars premiered at the Docland's Film Festival. Todd “Speech” Thomas of activist hip-hop group Arrested Development works in a unique rehabilitation program in Richmond, Virginia, to help prisoners write and record their own songs. The film focuses on four inmates who battle cycles of incarceration and addiction. a documentary starring Speech made premiered at the Docland's Film Festival and quickly won audience choice.

Baba Oje died of leukemia on October 26, 2018. His age is reported to be 86–87.[10][11]

In 2018 Arrested Development released their most recent album Craft & Optics.[12]

Also in 2018 Speech produced and launched a docu-series called The Nigga Factory [13]


Live in 2018


  • Speech - Lead Vocals (1988–1996, 2000–present)
  • Rasa Don - Drums (1990–2006)
  • Montsho Eshe - Dancer/Choreographer (1990–1996, 2000–present)
  • Isaiah 'Za' Williams III - Bass (2008–present)
  • One Love - Vocals (2008–present)
  • Jason "JJ Boogie" Reichert - Guitarist, Mix engineer & Producer (1998–present)
  • Tasha Larae - Vocals (2008–present)
  • Fareedah Aleem - Vocals, Dance & Choreography (2004-present)

Former Members

Baba Oje onstage in 2009
  • Headliner - Turntables (1988–1996)
  • Aerle Taree - Vocals/Stylist (1990–1996)
  • Baba Oje - Spiritual Elder (1990–1996, 2000–2018; his death)
  • Foley - Bass (1994–1996)
  • Ajile - Vocals (1994–1995)
  • Kwesi Asuo - Vocals (1994–1996)
  • Nadirah Shakoor - Vocals (1994–1996)
  • Nicha Hilliard - Vocals/Dancer (1996–2008)
  • Kamaal Malak - (1994-1996)



Year Album details Peak chart positions Certification
1992 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of... 7 3 4 32 30 6 48 3
1993 Unplugged 60 38 18 26 40
1994 Zingalamaduni 55 20 34 34 54 31 16
2000 Da Feelin' EP
2001 Heroes of the Harvest
  • Label: Vagabond Productions
2003 Extended Revolution
2004 Among The Trees
  • Label: Vagabond Productions
2006 Since The Last Time
  • Label: Vagabond Productions
2010 Strong[25]
2012 Standing At The Crossroads[9]
  • Label: Vagabond Productions[26]
2016 Changing The Narrative[27]
  • Label: Vagabond Productions
2016 This Was Never Home[28]
  • Label: Vagabond Productions
2018 Craft & Optics
  • Label: Vagabond Productions



Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications Album
US Hip-Hop
US Dance
1992 "Tennessee" 6 1 34 14 27 34 12 24 18 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of...
"People Everyday" 8 2 6 6 6 20 6 27 2
"Mr. Wendal" 6 6 1 7 30 31 42 2 4
"Revolution" 90 49 Malcolm X (Music From The Motion Picture Soundtrack)
1993 "Natural" 90 59 34 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of...
"Mama's Always On Stage" 22
1994 "United Front" 66 Zingalamaduni
"Ease My Mind" 45 14 43 11 33
"Africa's Inside Me"
2000 "If Dey Ask" Da Feelin' EP
"Hit The Road Jack" Heroes Of The Harvest
2004 "Honeymoon Day" Among The Trees
2005 "A Lotta Things To Do"
2006 "Down & Dirty (Clap Your Hands)" Since The Last Time
2010 "The World Is Changing" Strong
2011 "Living" Standing At The Crossroads
2016 "Up" This Was Never Home
"I Don't See You At The Club" Changing the Narrative

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "". 1993-03-02. Retrieved 2012-07-28.
  2. ^ "The Wire 30 records of 1992". 1993-01-01. Retrieved 2014-07-17.
  3. ^ 13 years later, Arrested Development returns
  4. ^ Alexander, Andrew. (2009-07-15) Speakeasy with poet Aerle Taree | Speakeasy with ... | Creative Loafing Atlanta. Retrieved on 2014-04-24.
  5. ^ Headliner’s revival
  6. ^ [1] Archived April 24, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ "Arrested Development Sue Fox". Retrieved 2014-12-08.
  8. ^ "Greener". Retrieved 2010-03-09.
  9. ^ a b "Arrested Development » Standing At The Crossroads - 13 FREE Songs". Archived from the original on 2012-08-14. Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  10. ^ "Arrested Development Member Baba Oje Has Died At Age 87". Essence. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  11. ^ "Baba Oje, Arrested Development's Spiritual Guru, Dead at 86". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 1, 2019.
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ Arrested Development - Chart history. Billboard. Retrieved on 2014-04-24.
  15. ^ Arrested Development - Chart history. Billboard. Retrieved on 2014-04-24.
  16. ^ a b Australian (ARIA) chart peaks:
  17. ^ a b German chart peaks:
  18. ^ a b " > Arrested Development in Dutch Charts" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  19. ^ a b c " > Arrested Development in New Zealand Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  20. ^ a b "Official Charts > Arrested Development". The Official UK Charts Company. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  21. ^ "1993 ARIA Albums Chart". ARIA. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  22. ^ "Gold & Platinum searchable database". Archived from the original on 2016-06-24. Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  23. ^ a b "Gold & Platinum searchable database". Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  24. ^ a b "Certified Awards". Retrieved 2014-10-05.
  25. ^ "STRONG : Arrested Development : avex network". Archived from the original on 2012-02-25. Retrieved 2012-01-03.
  26. ^ "Arrested Development - Standing At The Crossroads (Album Review)". Retrieved 2012-09-12.
  27. ^ Pace, Brian (February 2016). "The Pace Report: "Narrative Homeward" The Arrested Development Interview". Retrieved 2016-02-20.
  28. ^ "Arrested Development's Speech On New Album, Kendrick Lamar and Black Lives Matter - Interview".
  29. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Arrested Development > Chart History > The Hot 100". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  30. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Arrested Development > Chart History > Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  31. ^ "Billboard > Artists / Arrested Development > Chart History > Dance Club Songs". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  32. ^ " > Arrested Development dans les Charts Français" (in French). Hung Medien. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  33. ^ " > Arrested Development in Swedish Charts". Hung Medien. Retrieved 2017-03-23.
  34. ^ a b c "Gold & Platinum: Arrested Development". Recording Industry Association of America. Retrieved April 13, 2018.
  35. ^ "BPI Awards - bpi" (To access, enter the search parameter "Arrested Development" and select "Search by Keyword"). British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved April 20, 2018.

External links[edit]

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Marc Cohn
Grammy Award for Best New Artist
Succeeded by
Toni Braxton
Preceded by
DJ Jazzy Jeff & the Fresh Prince
Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group
Succeeded by
Digable Planets