APRIL 2021 INTERVIEW – Staying in tune with Arrested Development’s frontman, Speech.
I am stoked to shoot some questions in the direction of this multi-award-winning prolific and philosophic songwriter, rapper, and producer, Todd Thomas better known as Speech, who is a Hip Hop trailblazing 2-time Grammy awarded artist who leads the Legendary Afro-Centric progressive Hip Hop act, Arrested Development for over 3 decades, since 1988. Speech was 1 of many who watched in horror as the world was devastated when Trump’s Loyalists stormed the US capitol, so he took a stand, sat down, and penned his authentic, passionate, proactive, social, and political masterpiece. This artist has put his MC talents, artistic integrity, and passion for socio-political issues to quick use as he delivers his anthemic call-to-action single, ‘A Different World.’ “The rebellion that happened on January 6th was the curtain being pulled back on race, lies, and darkness in America. This song had to be made to become proactive in shaping our collective future,” stated Speech, as he continued to share, “It’s obvious that about half of America is living in a fictitious bubble, and are responding accordingly; that’s why I wanted to share facts about the lawlessness and hypocrisy that was occurring.” He went on to say, “we may be at the start of another Civil war, and a lot of bloodshed.”
Hello, Speech! I hope this finds you well and looking for Spring to arrive, I am excited to ask you a few questions, so here we go!
Q. 1 DEB: Contrary to popular belief, making it in the art of Music isn’t merely a game of luck. It requires talent, strategy, a determination based on visions and goals. Your career allowed you to share stages with the World’s most legendary minds of all time, Nelson Mandela, Minister Louis Farrakhan, Hilary Rodham Clinton, and Barack Obama. Explain what it was like to be surrounded by these influential beings? SPEECH: “It’s an honor to be in the presence of greatness, especially knowing that it’s your music that has gotten you there. You realize the power of what you do, the meaning it has on the world, and the places it allows you to go if you’re successful. It never gets old to me.” DEB: As well, share with your fans your creative writing process and what your secret is to embracing negativity and channeling It positively? SPEECH: “My writing is varied. It always depends on what’s in front of me. If it’s a beat from another producer, I’m inspired by their unique perspective and allows me to tap into a side of my spirit that I may not have tapped into before. And when I have music equipment around, I tap into what those things are. I also love to simply run errands and drive around while thinking of a song, it helps me clear my mind and allow the inspiration to flow through. I find it helps to embrace truth whether negative or positive because it helps you approach music from an honest place. It’s the honesty that appeals to the listener.“
Q. 2 DEB: Arrested Development is an 8-time Platinum, 4-time Gold, and 2-time Silver selling act whose historically revered music has always played a deeply positive role in the transformation of society and some consider how their art relates to current social-political landscapes or how their music can address these themes. Your new song, A Different World, definitely expresses this. Would you say your 5 solo albums and Arrested Development’s 14 studio album catalog of songs further touches on social and political issues? SPEECH: “Yes, it’s safe to say that my music has always been about change. My mother and father were & are political activists and taught me and my brothers to be a force for good in this world. My mom owns a black newspaper in Milwaukee Wisconsin (The Milwaukee Community Journal) and my dad was an entrepreneurial juggernaut.”
Q. 3 DEB: Walk us through your album entitled Expansion? SPEECH: “Expansion is really a mellow & enjoyable escape from the cut and paste pop scene. It has pop elements but is very daring and vulnerable. I was blessed to work with a lot of young & vibrant talents from around the world. This album is about positive dreams.”
A Different World follows Speech’s release of his first solo EP in 14 years, Expansion Pt. 1, and is included on his 2021 full-length album, Expansion; there’s also an extended version of the single available with six versions — including instrumental, acapella, and a remix featuring Configa. A Different World features lyrics such as, ‘I’m a black man that’s double jeopardy/Black plus a man that’s black all of that in white supremacy/We’ve already known America’s not our home/We’re just citizens with no representation of our own/Uh, but we pay taxes, some as soldiers for the chief/While the commander in chief’s a proud boy wearing sheets, leading goons in the streets/Having no accountability/There can’t a civilization without civility.” Speech makes the changes desperately needed and painfully clear.
Speech goes on to share that “on the night of the terrorist attack that already killed five people, I did a YouTube post, and I posted various things on social media, “but none of it seemed adequate — especially from a music documentation perspective. So, I went into the studio, pulled out my Beat Thang, sampler, etc. The jazz/boom bap energy for this song was intentional.” He further states, “It’s meant to be throw-back energy from the 90s-type approach. In my opinion, those sensibilities lend themselves to reflection, grooves, and hope, while still showing the urgency of this moment. I also purposefully rhymed with a higher pitch cuz I wanted my emotions of helplessness and rage — but also engagement — to come through.“
DEB: Speech, list some of the ways you have chosen lately to engage with your fans whether it’s within the top echelon of international circles or based on your own community involvement or virtually despite the covid-19 pandemic challenges and restrictions? SPEECH: “It’s been hard. We usually have access through tours and promotional events, but COVID has ditched that. Nowadays, we do a lot more online engagement and virtual performances.”
Speech mentions, “this is a time for goodhearted people of all races that love hip hop to show the world a path to peace and truth,”
and he adds.
“Plot, plan, strategize, organize, and mobilize. Please spread the vibes. We aren’t helpless — we can make a different world.”
Don’t delay folks, enjoy the new video for A Different World today by visiting https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qvyXVGTtAM
Also, A Different World Track Leads 15 Fresh Cuts in a NEW Solo LP, entitled ‘Expansion‘ and both are available NOW.
Stay in tune with Speech and Arrested Development by checking out their social platforms today! https://www.brotherspeech.com http://www.arresteddevelopmentmusic.com https://www.arresteddevelopmentmusic.com/shop https://www.arresteddevelopmentmusic.com/music https://www.facebook.com/BrotherSpeechOfficial https://twitter.com/speech__?lang=en https://www.instagram.com/speech__/?hl=en https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9qvyXVGTtAM&feature=youtu.be https://brotherspeech.bandcamp.com/album/expansion-full-album https://open.spotify.com/album/39L58VJg2TwS3EJlwGiG2A?si=GGqX5nHkQQC6w93YTx_jCg&nd=1 https://open.spotify.com/artist/0ATg66209dS5nFsvobJlRt?si=zJPSqyn3TTCiKXCczEYFyA&nd=1 https://open.spotify.com/album/4qvZDRDBfxJlHONzkEAY3A?highlight=spotify:track:1X9FgjFLJj0KJaDOdX1MxD https://open.spotify.com/album/4qvZDRDBfxJlHONzkEAY3A?si=vVatQrLeQoKmB350EOmgbg&nd=1 https://music.apple.com/us/album/expansion-full-album/1552058837?uo=4&at=1l3vwYf https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B08VV95W28/ref=dm_ws_sp_ps_dp
Thank you so much for your time today Speech, it was a true honor.
Stay safe, and keep the musical faith, D. at The Wire MEGAzine – on the scene since 1989 http://www.thewiremegazine.com