Making everything that had gone before in the world of hip-hop sound rather passé.
Daryl Easlea 2009-07-30
Arrested Development breezed on to the scene in 1992 and made the year their own with this, their super-confident debut. 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days In The Life Of... (the exact length of time it took for the group to get a recording contract) was one of those records that arrived fully-formed, making everything that had gone before in the world of hip-hop sound rather passé.
Formed by rappers Speech and Headliner and inspired by Public Enemy, Arrested Development espoused afro-centricity, feminism, love and harmony, and were an antidote to the machismo of Gansgta Rap, then very much on the rise.
3 Years... was rightly lauded at the time; it is resolutely upbeat – none more than on Give A Man A Fish with its chorus, ''give a man a fish he’ll eat for a day, teach him how to fish he’ll eat forever''. The three US Top 10 singles, People Everyday, Mr Wendal and Tennessee seemed to be everywhere. People Everyday, which updated Sly and The Family Stone's Everyday People, showed how they could embrace the past while modernising the message. The tale of a man having to use violence in self defence against a gang is like most of their work, deeply thoughtful with a generous splash of wit (''I had to take the brother out for being rude'').
For a while they were invincible; the album won the group Grammys and a position in all year end charts. Arrested Development couldn't maintain the momentum, and after one further album, they split. Although some of 3 Years... hasn't dated well, overall, it still sounds vibrant, vital and resolutely on-message.