Revolution - Arrested Development
The guys who formed Arrested Development did so to provide a conscious alternative to the gangster / sexist /drug culture obsessed themes of the rap of the eighties, looking to present modern black culture and consciousness in a more sophisticated and positive light. This didn't mean they were lying down in any sense of the word. And it is significant that Spike Lee, who as a film student made the video for one of the first major rap chart successes - "White Lines- Don't Do It" - asked Arrested Development to compose the only contemporary song for the soundtrack of his 1992 film "Malcolm X". When he was given the job of making the movie by Warner Brothers (the white Norman Jewison had been the previous named director!), many prominent black Americans were worried that he would present an apologist middle class version of the black-rites radical, but they needn't have worried, as singer Aerle Taree and songwriter vocalist Speech iterate right after the African style intro:
"Brothers and sisters Let me share with you some news As I sit on my plush couch Watching the news There has been a rude awakening That I have marched until my feet have bled And I have rioted until they called the feds What's left My conscience said What's left My conscience said As I look out my window I see the little ones Playing amongst each other With their water guns
In pure poverty Generations of good people In cycles of poverty It bothers me, so I ask myself I say, "Are you doing as much as you can for the struggle?" "Am I doing as much as I can for the struggle?" Then why do I cry when My people are in trouble My ancestors slapped me In the face and said Harriet Tubman Told me to "get on up" Marcus Garvey said the negro "You get on up"............."
Melodic and danceable as it might have seemed to white ears in 1992, those same ears must have burnt when they listened to the lyrics (note Beverley Hills 90210 was a soap about young people the name being taken from one of the poshest postcode areas in the States):
"..........You don't want us to go Get a gun now, do you? You don't like to see People running around now Yet and still you wanna Live like 9-0-2-1-0 While we scream out Freedom Five grandmothers ago They erased it We must acquire a taste for Something we've never tasted So, people, let us Wet our palates It's either the bullet or the ballot........."
And the great thing about Speech is he's not afraid to be an intellectual, nor is he afraid to name the names:
"......Now, see, I understand What my people have said They tell me to fight Fight for the ancestors Who are dead For Harriet Tubman Move organisation David Walker The Black Panthers Kwame Nkrumah Marcus Garvey, Jane Pittman Revolution....."
And if you don't know who THEY are, look 'em up, whoever YOU are.