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Speech (Arrested Development) - conducted by Hugo Lunny  


Speech - A Travelling Man

December 2005

The mainstream took in groups like The Fresh Prince and Jazzy Jeff and Arrested Development as Hip Hop began it's popular reign in the mid 90's, and was a lot more innocent (on a mainstream level). Taking over the world through their singles like "Mr Wendal," Speech, the lead vocalist of the group acquired a wealth of experience and knowledge. Over the past several years, Speech has pursued a solo career on top of his involvement in the group. His latest venture, "The Vagabond" is in stores now.


MVRemix: What's your first memory of Hip Hop?

Speech: "Rappers Delight"

MVRemix: Do you remember the first time you saw your name on vinyl and do you recall the feelings you had when you saw that?

Speech: Definitely. I released a record when I was in high school, and my group, which was a Hip Hop group called "Attack"... When we first got the vinyl back, it was like having a baby. I mean I felt extremely proud and extremely excited to know that I'd been a part of a record.

MVRemix: Around the time you entered Hip Hop, Gangsta Rap and things along those lines were starting to flourish. What was it that kept you going on more of a conscious route?

Speech: Really, to be honest a few things. One, my mother and father own a newspaper, a black newspaper, and seeing and hearing all the different issues that were going on in the black community and seeing them deal with it really woke me up to the need to talk about the issues that are affecting us as a people. But also a lot of groups, probably my first group was Public Enemy that really inspired me to write music about the cause of lifting black people from the oppression that we face. Those were probably the two biggest things. There were other things as well but I think those were two of the biggest.

MVRemix: Tell me about "The Vagabond."

Speech: This record is a very personal record. It's a collection of songs that I've written at different times in my life, so it's sort of a compilation to me. Each song is a story in and of itself about my life. I feel like it goes all over the place which is why I want call it "The Vagabond." I feel like it has a little Hip Hop, a little bit of world music, it has a little bit of soul music and a lot of odd stuff in it and also some samples and stuff like that. So I really feel like it just went over the place, but in a good way. I think that it's a really honest piece of expression for an artist. I think, at least to me, we've sort of gotten into a machine where you know exactly what people want and you give them exactly what they want, instead of giving people an honest expression of self and I felt like this record was a little more deeper like that.

MVRemix: How does it compare to "Spiritual People" and "Hoopla"?

Speech: To me it really doesn't compare, I think all of them are slightly different. To some people I've heard it said about my music that it's all a good feeling type of music and I think that it's true. I definitely have my sort of signature style which is part of who I am. But other than that I think it's a different experience, I think. As people get into it, there's a song called "Walkin' In The Sun" that really talks about personal things that I've gone through and I think it's just a broad experience, the record. So I think it's different than those other two.

MVRemix: How did the Neneh Cherry collaboration come about?

Speech: There's a group called One Giant Leap out of the UK, a very influential group. They travel around the world and they record different artists, tribal singers, tribal drummers. All the way from India to Africa to Russia to the states. They also record singers and philosophers and they asked if I could be involved with this project and I said, "Yes." They did Neneh Cherry in the UK and asked her to write for the same song. Because of technology we weren't even in the same room but we were able to do a song together. I knew Neneh Cherry anyway from my experiences of touring so it was just a great opportunity of touring.

MVRemix: Ten years ago, did you envision that you'd still be rapping today?

Speech: I did. I wanted to be rapping until I was sixty or seventy. I felt like I'd still be rhyming or still doing music and still making an impact and having an impact on the game.

MVRemix: What is it that you're most proud of with Arrested Development?

Speech: For one it's I'm probably very proud at the fact that I come from a small town, Millwalke, Wisconsin. There's not a lot of groups that come from my town and don't have a lot of role models to look at like, "Wow, you're signed to a label." Infact, I didn't have any. And so I'm very proud of the fact that I was able to persevere and do something to make an impact across the world from something I'd wrote that really not a lot of people from my home town had been able to do. I'm also grateful that I met some incredible people that make up Arrested Development that I wouldn't have been able to do any of it without these people involved. I'm really just grateful for the collaborations of the group and really the fact that I was able to do it from such a small beginning.

MVRemix: What's the current situation with the group?

Speech: A lot. We've been doing albums, what we call "secret albums" which have been released overseas; we haven't released them in America yet. We did one called "Hills of The Harbour" it did very well in Japan. We only released it in Japan and we did another album called "Among The Trees" which we released in Japan and Europe and Australia. All of those did very well for us, we had a number one single from the "Among The Trees" album. The single was called "Honeymoon Day," it was above U2 and Usher. I mean it's just been a great journey. We've been doing 20,000 seaters over there and it's just really exciting. We've been doing a new album for America as I speak and of course promoting my solo record, so there's some really exciting possibilities for the future. I don't like to brag a lot about what we're gonna do, but I think it's some really important music. I think it's gonna do well.

MVRemix: Which label will the record be coming out through?

Speech: We're not sure yet, to be honest we're just in the recording stages and financially we've been blessed enough to record the album without a label so we're just recording and we've got some great producers. We've got Mike Mansini, he produced Joss Stone, he produced Digable Planets, he's producing on this record. A brother named Sam Hollander, an old school producer from back in the day is producing on here with beats, myself, so it's really exciting.

MVRemix: A couple of years ago you had some issues with the FOX TV show "Arrested Development" using your group name. what's the current situation with that and do you watch the show?

Speech: I have seen the show, but it's not my taste. We did settle with FOX television, so we're cool with everything. We're happy that the show has been able to be successful. We're happy that we've been able to gauge some type of respect from that network through our settlement they know that we mean business and we're a serious business and we really respect what the name means to us and what we've been able to accomplish with the name from the public's viewpoint. At the same time the show's doing well and we really wanted the show to do well so we're happy for them.

MVRemix: Do you remember the first film you saw?

Speech: The first film that I saw I probably don't remember, but the first film that I saw that made an impact on me was "Jesus Christ Superstar."

MVRemix: What about a favourite?

Speech: One of my favourites was "Terminator 2."

MVRemix: A la "Fight Club," "If you could fight any celebrity, who would you fight?"

Speech: [chuckles] That's a good one brother. I think I'd like to fight 50 Cent.

MVRemix: Do you reckon you'd win?

Speech: I think I would.

MVRemix: What do you think is the biggest misconception people have of you?

Speech: That I would lose a fight against 50 Cent.

MVRemix: Apart from promoting the album, what upcoming projects do you have in the works? collabo's etc.

Speech: I have been doing a lot of collaborations with Japanese artists. A brother named Gaku MC, MC Hasabe, One Giant Leap out of the UK. We just did a collaboration with a brother named T-Y-Ty from London as well. We do a lot of touring and travelling overseas and there's been so much love from overseas artists. Hip Hop to me is so refreshing over there that I've really been inspired to do stuff with them because you don't have to do much posturing, it's more about the art of Hip Hop.

MVRemix: Any last words?

Speech: Definitely, check out my Speech "The Vagabond" album. If you haven't been into my solo career, I think it's really a treat and I think that people will be pleased to sort of vibe with it. Tell them to hit me up at www.lifemusik.com






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