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April 22, 1992 - Image 11

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1992-04-22

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The Michigan Daily - Wednesday, April 22, 1992 - Page 11

Developing a
new look at life

by Scott Sterling
A rrested Development's debut
album, 3 Years, 5 Months, and 2
Days In The Life Of.., is a totally
fresh and long overdue vibe in the
hip-hop nation. Led by the 23-year
old rapper Speech, this collection
of "cultural-southern-hiphop-folk-
ethnic-funk" drops more science
on the state of Africans in America
today this side of KRS-1. Totally
void of any "ho" slapping, malt
liquor drinking or crotch-grabbing,
3 Years, S Months... celebrates
spirituality, a return to African
roots, and Black self-determina-
tion.
Backstage at the Industry night-
club after a rollicking and quite
bumping show, Speech explains
the gospel according to Arrested
Development.
"Life, death, and the struggle of
our ancestors, that's what we're all
about," says Speech. "You'll no-
tice the word 'life' all over every-
thing we present. We call what we
do 'life music.' We try to get peo-
ple to appreciate life. Because once
a person appreciates life, they're
gonna fight for their rights as a
person, and as a people."
Based in rural Georgia,
Arrested Development (DJ
Headliner, vocalist Aerle Taree,
percussionist Rasa Don, and dan-
cer Montsho Eshe, along with
Speech) emote a decidedly country
vibe. Their album cover, and video
for the single "Tennessee" are
awash with the images of nature.
The sounds of birds, rustling trees
and flowing water permeate tracks
on 3 Years, 5 Months...
"We're pro-country because we
grew up in the South, and for
Black people in general, the South
has always played a significant
role in African life," Speech ex-
plains.
"The South has many of the
traditions of our African ancestors
in their rawest form. For instance,
the Gichee language and the Gola
people in the Carolinas. The tradi-
tions they have are still very simi-
lar to Africa. They weave baskets
and make quilts just like they do in
West Africa."

Another prevalent theme in
Arrested Development's work is
religion. In the song "Fishin' 4
Religion," Speech casts a very cri-
tical eye on the current state of the
Black church.
"The Baptist church is passive
today," Speech says. "During slav-
ery, the Baptist church was like the
pillar of Black reality. It organized
us, it united us, it caused us to re-
volt, it caused us to plan.
"Today, the Black church isn't
addressing the problems that are
going on. You got Ice Cube talkin'
about a lot of legitimate problems
that are going on in the street, and
the Baptist church is either ignor-
ing them, or doesn't know they're
going on."
These problems that plague the
African American are such a con-
cern to Speech that he even ad-
dresses it journalistically.
"Me and this brother named
Hoover started writing this article
about a year and a half ago, when I
was a student at UWM (University
of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.) We
wrote an article called '20th Cen-
tury African,' as a way to reach out
to the Black community in Mil-
waukee, to try to motivate them to
get into a more productive mind-
state. Milwaukee is a destructive,
cooped-up, oppressed area for
Black people. Much like, I dare
say, Detroit. It was an extension of
our music that we were doing."
Getting A.D.'s message across
in their music is priority number
one to Speech. This was more than
evident during their show, where
Speech would often explain the
songs' meanings, while inviting
members of the crowd to join them
on stage.
"When we do a show, we call

Tinkham
fashions
seed beads
by Amy Meng
For those interested in Native
American artwork, Joyce Tinkham,
a local Nishga artist and craftsper-
son, brought her wooden and metal
looms to the University Hospital
Lobby to show her dexterity at
weaving beaded work.
Tinkham uses a vast variety of
seed beads - opaque, transparent
with paint swirls inside, iridescent,
pearled glass, smooth and faceted
with jagged edges. In a demonstra-
tion of her art, Tinkham shows audi-
ences how she uses a long bead nee-
dle and cotton sewing string to
thread through the multiple strings
attached to the loom, moving from
side to side as she strings a row of
beads on at a time. Beeswax is
added to protect the beads after the
weaving process is finished.
In her presentation, Tinkham ex-
plains that she plans her design on
graph paper before she works it out
on the loom in a grid-like fashion.
Inspired by everything she encoun-
ters, the artist uses geometric and
organic shapes to convey floral and
totem pole designs and animal mo-
tifs such as butterflies, fish, turtles,
and bears - symbols of nature.
Tinkham has created pouches,
pipe bags, belts, rosettes, and cos-
tumes on her looms. But she doesn't
stop there. She also embroiders off-
loom. Using the Nishga design,
she's embroidered a vest for her
brother's marriage ceremony, com-
plete with elk tooth trim, multi-col-
ored buttons arranged in the form of
a raven and a bear stitched into a
black wool fabric bordered by red
cloth.
In her work with the American
Indians Unlimited, which has be-
come integrated with the Univer-
sity's Native American Students
Association, Tinkham has sold wo-
ven and beaded baskets, earrings,
necklaces, bracelets, belts, and other
accessories at fiber guilds sales and
art fairs.
Keeping in touch with her Native
American culture, she participates in
the annual Pow-wow sponsored by
NASA and attends healing cere-
See TINKHAM, Page 13

Rapper Speech (front) and the rest off
opening the African-American mind.
think we're gonna roll up on stage
bustin' forty ouncers, we let them
know straight away that we're not
about that, no matter what the sit-
uation. That puts substance behind
the concept."
This idea of "substance behind
the concept" also influences what
the band wears. Eschewing Cross

his Arrested Development cohorts chill after a long day of horseshoes and

'We try to get people to appreciate life.
Because once a person appreciates life, they're
gonna fight for their rights as a person, and as
a people.'
-Speech
Arrested Development Rapper

about the current trend of "Afro-
centric" wear, especially the wave
of Malcolm X gear.
"I don't think that most people
who wear the stuff have any idea
what Malcolm X was all about,"
Speech says. "I think it's fraudu-
lent, it's exploitative, and I think
it's a shame. I don't think there's
any positive outcome from wearing
those X hats or T-shirts with no
meaning behind them. It's nothing.
X is a letter. Always has been, al-
ways will be."
With 3 Years, S Months... sell-
ing a staggering 100,000 copies in
its first two weeks on the rack,
Arrested Development plans on
hitting as many clubs and theaters
as possible to spread their hip-hop
philosophy.

When asked if he had any
words of encouragement to young
brothers and sisters eager to learn
more about their heritage, Speech
offered this advice:
"Demand your mothers, fathers,
grandparents. Demand them to tell
you about what they went through
as Black people in America, in the
thirties, forties, sixties or when-
ever. It can make it personal for
you.
"You might even be able to go
back to someone who was a slave,
or a sharecropper. Then, once
you've got a fire in you, then I
would suggest some books. Afri-
can History books, maybe a class if
your school offers one, reading
books like The Autobiography Of
Malcolm X. After that, live it out."

them celebrations," Speech says.
"We set a stage and a vibe for what
we're about. So even if people

Colors clothing for African Kinte
cloth designs made by Taree her-
self, Speech is very ambivalent

"Remember class,nowis the best
time to sell your old course books

at Mich
Nqw through the end of April
you'll get the highest price for your
old course books. So why haul
those heavy books home when you
can trade them for instant cash?
No matter where you pur-
chased your course books, our staff
will be happy to help you, and
there are no long lines.
We carry a huge selection of
U of M insignia items, -perfect
souvenirs for yourself, family and
friends.

igan Book & Supply"

I

/ ,

---------. ..................

IVISA.I

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t/ WZ

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