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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 1992 | Capitol Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Widely adored when it appeared in 1992, Arrested Development's debut album, 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of... seemed to herald a shining new era in alternative rap, when audiences and critics of all colors could agree on the music's importance. Of course, that didn't happen, as Dr. Dre instead took gangsta rap to the top of the charts with The Chronic. In retrospect, 3 Years... isn't quite as revolutionary as it first seemed, though it's still a fine record that often crosses the line into excellence. Its positive messages were the chief selling point for many rock critics, and it's filled with pleas for black unity and brotherly compassion, as well as a devotion to the struggle for equality. All of that is grounded in a simple, upbeat spirituality that also results in tributes to the homeless (the hit "Mr. Wendal"), black women of all shapes and sizes, and the natural world. It's determinedly down to earth, and that aesthetic informs the group's music as well. Their sound is a laid-back, southern-fried groove informed by rural blues, African percussion, funk, and melodic R&B. All of it comes together on the classic single "Tennessee," which takes lead rapper Speech on a spiritual quest to reclaim his heritage in a south still haunted by its history. It helped Arrested Development become the first rap group to win a Grammy for Best New Artist, and to top numerous year-end critical polls. In hindsight, there's a distinct political correctness -- even naïveté -- in the lyrics, which places the record firmly in the early '90s; it's also a bit self-consciously profound at times, lacking the playfulness of peers like the Native Tongues. Nonetheless, 3 Years... was a major influence on a new breed of alternative Southern hip-hop, including Goodie Mob, OutKast, and Nappy Roots, and it still stands as one of the better albums of its kind. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 2001 | EMI Gold

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 1994 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

The follow-up to Arrested Development's hugely acclaimed debut, Zingalamaduni was something of a letdown, and not just because conscious rap's moment in the sun was over for the time being. The record is simply less exciting, falling prey to too many aimless grooves that don't always capture the effortless earthiness of the debut's best moments. That's a shame, because there are subtle progressions on the group's signature sound. There's more frequent and explicit use of African musical elements, especially chanting; that reflects a slightly more Afrocentric viewpoint in the lyrics (not to mention the album's title, which is Swahili for "beehive of culture"), which tones down the sunny positivity of the debut somewhat. A few cuts are jazzier than anything on the debut, yet the overall lack of focus produces too many lackluster-to-average moments. The best tracks are a match for their counterparts on 3 Years... (save for "Tennessee"); songs like "Mr. Landlord," "Ache'n for Acres," "Praisin' U," and the catchy "In the Sunshine" illustrate why some critics found reasons to like Zingalamaduni that weren't purely intellectual. But overall, it failed to captivate Arrested Development's audience the way its predecessor had. Not until the ascendance of the Fugees would another group command the level of critical and commercial respect that Arrested Development had in its prime. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released October 19, 2018 | Vagabond Records & Tapes

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 6, 2010 | Vagabond Records & Tapes

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released March 23, 1993 | Capitol Records

Basically a live rerecording of 3 Years, 5 Months, & 2 Days In the Life of ... (minus their breakthrough hit, "Tennessee"), Unplugged breaks no new ground for Arrested Development. Eight of the eleven songs on the album are from their debut, and the three new tracks are slight. The album is filled out with remixes of seven tracks, which are the instrumental tracks with the vocals turned down (they are still slightly audible). Despite the fact that it doesn't offer anything not on 3 Years, the album is an enjoyable listen. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released October 30, 2007 | Vagabond Productions

Lively hippies and pop-rap hip-hoppers Arrested Development were not on the über-cool list in 2007 when their Since the Last Time album landed on most shores (Japan got in 2006 because the country never gave up on this little act that could). Suing the beloved Arrested Development television show over name rights and appearing on the "where are they now and have they no shame?" series Hit Me Baby One More Time made this 15-year-old act seem like it was better off forgotten, which is why Since the Last Time is such a shock. Once the listener gets past the opening title track -- a history lesson in song that's best left for longtime fans -- the album opens up into a hook-filled world of positive, effervescent songs that are intoxicating in a sunshine way, as if the jam band attitude invaded hip-hop. "Miracles" is an instantly gripping slice of fast funk that captures that same Sly Stone magic the band caught on their 1992 track "People Everyday." More warm memories of AD's debut album are brought on by "Sunshine" and "Stand," but the hyperkinetic "I Know I'm Bad" is a completely welcome curveball with the band sounding more raw than they ever have. Leader Speech writes lyrics that are as hopeful as ever, with the added benefit of being a little older and wiser. In the end, the only reason to complain is that his frequent referencing of the band and its past is a little too insider for this otherwise outgoing and welcoming effort. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 1993 | Chrysalis\EMI Records (USA)

Basically a live rerecording of 3 Years, 5 Months, & 2 Days In the Life of ... (minus their breakthrough hit, "Tennessee"), Unplugged breaks no new ground for Arrested Development. Eight of the eleven songs on the album are from their debut, and the three new tracks are slight. The album is filled out with remixes of seven tracks, which are the instrumental tracks with the vocals turned down (they are still slightly audible). Despite the fact that it doesn't offer anything not on 3 Years, the album is an enjoyable listen. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Pop - Released January 1, 2006 | Capitol Records

The follow-up to Arrested Development's hugely acclaimed debut, Zingalamaduni was something of a letdown, and not just because conscious rap's moment in the sun was over for the time being. The record is simply less exciting, falling prey to too many aimless grooves that don't always capture the effortless earthiness of the debut's best moments. That's a shame, because there are subtle progressions on the group's signature sound. There's more frequent and explicit use of African musical elements, especially chanting; that reflects a slightly more Afrocentric viewpoint in the lyrics (not to mention the album's title, which is Swahili for "beehive of culture"), which tones down the sunny positivity of the debut somewhat. A few cuts are jazzier than anything on the debut, yet the overall lack of focus produces too many lackluster-to-average moments. The best tracks are a match for their counterparts on 3 Years... (save for "Tennessee"); songs like "Mr. Landlord," "Ache'n for Acres," "Praisin' U," and the catchy "In the Sunshine" illustrate why some critics found reasons to like Zingalamaduni that weren't purely intellectual. But overall, it failed to captivate Arrested Development's audience the way its predecessor had. Not until the ascendance of the Fugees would another group command the level of critical and commercial respect that Arrested Development had in its prime. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 2002 | Capitol Records

For a brief, shining moment at the dawn of the '90s, it seemed that Arrested Development's debut 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of would have as lasting an impact as Nirvana's Nevermind, which also ruled the charts in 1992. As it turns out, Nevermind ushered in years of grunge, indie rock, and, sadly, terrible hard rock, but 3 Years wound up as the last big gasp of alt-rap before it was subsumed by gangsta after The Chronic. As such, Arrested Development's music has dated slightly, sounding like its time rather than transcending it, as this edition of Classic Masters illustrates. As a collection, it's quite good, containing not just every one of the group's hits and singles, but a B-side ("Southern Fried Funk"), a few album tracks, and Speech's 1995 solo single, "Like Marvin Said (What's Goin' On)." Several singles stand the test of time and emerge as classics, particularly "Tennessee," while several sound a little too closely tied to their time, but overall this is an excellent overview of the last great Daisy-Age era alt-rap crew. 3 Years remains definitive, but if you want a sampler, containing bits of Zingalamundi plus Revolution, this is the one to get. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 2003 | EMI Marketing

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 19, 2003 | Vagabond Records & Tapes

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released August 2, 2004 | earMUSIC

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Pop - Released April 29, 2011 | earMUSIC

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 1, 2003 | EMI Marketing

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released February 16, 2016 | Vagabond Records & Tapes

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released July 12, 2016 | Vagabond Records & Tapes

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released August 2, 2004 | Vagabond Records & Tapes

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released September 27, 2011 | Vagabond Records & Tapes

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released January 27, 2020 | Vox Humana