The 606 Club was jumping to the sounds of Arrested Development, a night that was totally different to a normal night in this small Chelsea Jazz Club.
I could not call myself an Arrested Development fan, I remember their excellent rework of the Sly and The Family Stone classic ‘Everyday People’ but know little else of their work but curiosity got the better of me and I had to see a group of their stature playing in such a small venue.
The 606 was packed and as soon as the band took to the stage and Fareedah Aleem danced her way through the jam packed room the audience was energised, the energy inspired the band and for seventy minutes the place was rocking.
I did not know many of the songs but during the non-stop performance, they certainly sang ‘Revolution’ and ‘Ease my Mind’, and ‘People Everyday’ and there were samples of other well known songs including Bob Marley’s ‘One Love’. Speech’s vocals were the hub around which everything turned, supported by excellent vocals from One Love, Tasha LaRae and Fareedah. Eric Dozier played keys, Corey Raymond drums and William Montgomery bass. The band provided the excellent platform for the vocalists to sing and involve the audience who always responded with vigour. William was remarkable because he kept his cool persona whilst the rest of the room was going crazy.
When the set finished the audience rightly stood, applauded and hollered their appreciation.
After the show Fareedah shook hands with most of the audience and stayed on stage and was photographed with many individuals, we saw this all happening in front of our table. I am not sure how much the other band members interacted but I would be surprised if they did not. It was a night when due to the closeness the audience and band were one, creating an incredibly electric atmosphere.
This was a night I will remember, I may never buy any of Arrested Development’s music but I would definitely go see them perform again, I wish the energy in the room could have been bottled.
BABA OJE the elder from the 2x Grammy Award winning group ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT passed this morning at 4am after fighting acute Leukemia, he was 86 years old. Baba was the oldest member of any hip-hop collective and his mere presence in rap spoke volumes for the genre and for a generation looking for symbolic wisdom and answers. He was an activist for the homeless, a military veteran, a world traveler, spiritual advisor to the group, strict vegan, dancer, vocalist and avid roller skater. His family & friends are scheduling service arrangements for him next week Friday. We will deeply miss Baba Oje and ask for prayers for his family.
Personal quote from Speech...
I met Baba hanging with the young dudes while I was in college, he was always super cool and always willing to talk to the youth! I gathered up the nerve to ask him to be in my hip hop group, he at first said no. But he later reconsidered when he thought about the fact that a young black man was striving to start a positive rap thing. However, we both found out that this partnership was bigger than we even knew. We both learned later that Baba knew my parents and in fact, was the best man in my mother and fathers wedding way before I was even thought of! That's the spiritual bond we shared, he was literally like family to me, I will miss him terribly. - Speech
Personal quote from Eshe...
I love you so much Baba️I will miss our many talks my dear friend. So glad I had a chance to chat with you one last time a few days ago. Your energy and fiery spirit will be missed. My dancing partner on stage... the elder of Arrested Development. I salute you. May your soul REST IN POWER. You will forever be my Baba Oje!!!!️ Condolences to all of Baba’s family and friends. To my Arrested Development fam..... sending you love and peace.
The songs of Arrested Development bring me back to my youth. Their debut album 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of… with hits such as Tennessee and Mr. Wendal spoke to my teenage self in a powerful way. They radiated consciousness, positivity, and energy and weren’t afraid to address real life and real issues. They were on the forefront of the conscious Hip Hop movement and a major player in the development of my personal love of the genre. I never had the opportunity to witness them perform at that time, so when I saw they were coming to Cleveland this past Friday I jumped on the opportunity to bear witness to this timeless and powerful collective of artists.
Performing at the House of Blues Cleveland, Arrested Development delivered a high-powered production that infiltrated the audience with energy and positivity. They were preceded on stage by Jahi—a school executive, dedicated to supporting the youth in the Oakland area, as well as a powerful lyricist and artist. Jahi delivered as he promised, “30 minutes of conscious lyrics.” He woke the audience up and prepared them for an evening characterized by truth in experience and expression.
’s arrival on stage met with massive approval from the crowd as they dove right into two timeless hits with Mr. Wendal and Raining Revolution. Throughout their performance the energy was high, their enjoyment was evident, and their message was clear. They weren’t, and have never been, here just to perform and get a paycheck. They are artist and activists who use their platform to share a message while truly enjoying the expression of their craft.
Arrested Development took the crowd on a trip through the history of Hip Hop making call outs and offering tributes to Tribe Called Quest, among others that were trail blazers along side them through the years. Speech took the time to tell the story behind their hit Tennessee, sharing how he lost his favorite grandmother and then his brother, Terry, in the same week and was “feeling some type of way.” They dedicated their performance of Ease My Mind to Phife Dog. And throughout the night they would cycle back to Raining Revolution, ultimately settling into an a cappella moment involving the audience—as the unified voices raised up to fill the space I found myself with an awareness so clear I was covered with goosebumps. The lyrics of this song (and many of their others) from more than 25 years ago are just as pertinent and applicable today.
The power of their performance amazed me. The amount of the show dedicated to those old timeless hits combined with the artistry and clarity in their voices made me feel like this show could have occurred decades ago. The energy never waned and their enjoyment was infectious, leaving everyone in a space of positivity. All of the members regularly stepped to the front of the stage, out of the spotlights, where they could see and connect to their audience. And at the end of the night they took the time to shake their audiences hands, 1 Love and Fareedah even stayed to chat and take pictures with people before retreating back stage.
When you see a band perform whose peak of popularity was close to a quarter of a century ago, you never really know how it will go. In the case of Arrested Development, nothing was lost—perhaps, something was gained. And the only complaint I have is… I wanted more.