Advice from SPEECH for Indie artists

Bandzoogle Interview Arrested Development's Frontman Speech took some time to answer our questions in between tour dates. You have a unique perspective, being signed to a major label, then changing gears and having success as an indie. Was it hard to make this transition? SPEECH: It was hard. Major labels do almost everything for you. That sounds better than it actually feels. Because when they're doing a great job, you have no clue WHY things are doing so well and HOW to repeat that success. AND when they're doing a horrible job, you have a hard time knowing and explaining WHAT they could be doing better. Being indie, I had to start over. From developing contacts, relationships, etc. You really have to believe in what you're doing, to start anything over again! However, there is more direct control, BUT also more work and money necessary. If you don't like the work part and you don't have the money part, you will do better with a major label, regardless of the downsides. Many musicians have the mindset that getting signed to a major is the ultimate goal. If you were starting over, would you have gone the same route? SPEECH: It's hard to say, because we were extremely blessed! Our first album did very well (about 5 million copies sold), we had a lot of opportunities (Grammy's (2), MTV awards (2), NAACP award etc.) That gave us a lot of momentum and confidence. I have seen many artists start off with a vision and drive but the strains of this business and the perseverance needed to POSSIBLY succeed in it, ultimately defeated them. And they were really great artists. There are many of those sad tales and MAYBE Arrested development would've fallen prey to that same fate had we started as an indie group. Only God knows for sure. How was Arrested Development "discovered?" SPEECH: Headliner's girlfriend Crystal (the original "C" of famous R&B group, TLC) handed our Single to Michael Mauldin (Jermaine Dupri's father), and he saw potential in one of our songs. That was our first discovery. How does your solo work differ from that of Arrested Development? SPEECH: My solo work has always been my experimental side. The side of me that I never want to place a genre on. So I can write Folk, Hip-Hop, soul, World music and whatever else I desire in the moment. that freedom is less available with Arrested D. although we go a lot of musical places as well. Honestly, I do have a nice career. You have had success in Japan, and recently toured there. Is that scene much different than in North America? SPEECH: Japan is a great place to play music. The people, in general, are very open to good talent. I owe a lot to that country. In 1996, I couldn't GIVE away my solo material in the U.S. I was glancing over a Billboard magazine to see where my first solo single was on the charts. It was at 87 and going down. Just for the heck of it, I glanced down at the bottom of the Japan Top 100 charts and I didn't see my single at all. In total depression, and slight envy I wanted to see who was in the top 10 and there was my song at #1!!!! And for 7 weeks in a row at that! I immediately shook my managers shoulder, telling him we NEED to get over there NOW! :-) The rest is history, we saw an opportunity and we jumped on it, I have since then released 5 solo albums all of which have spawned Top 5 hits! Can you give us some insight into your writing process? SPEECH: If I do, I'll have to kill you. ;-) It depends on the project. I do a lot of recording, more than people in any territory would know. As a full time musician, with Staff, Office, family and kids you "Get in where you can fit in" so you can pay bills. I tend to look at the entire world market and determine HOW I can be of service there. I write songs with artist in Japan, Australia, Africa, India, Europe, and of course the U.S. My writing therefore, changes depending on how elaborate the project is. Many times it's done strictly through emails of acapella's , or tracks in Mp3 form, i usually use Pro-tools, and engineer it myself. And bartering has become my new best friend. If the project is huge, then we may fly here or there and rent a large studio, the top engineers etc. Then I sit on a plush sofa, sip on Lemon water and write casually. What are your next projects on the horizon? SPEECH: I just started my record company Vagabond Records & Tapes, we are a boutique label, that specializes in cool music, 45's, and even cassettes. (we do Cd's and digital mp3's as well) We have a release coming this Fall. Speech does Hip-Hop: "The Grown folks Table", we also HAVE the new Arrested Development album, "Since The Last Time" out now, and available at our on line store! Read more!

LEAF Festival w/ Corey Harris & AD

I love Music festivals, God has blessed me with such a great job! I cannot stress that enough. I love the air, the trees, the festive mood, foods, and music variety! Many nights I lay in my bed stressed about what is NOT happening in my music career. But I would be foolish to under - emphasize what IS! And what IS far out weights what isn't. Quote from a LEAF blog (linked from the above headline): "I have been a huge fan of Arrested Development since their album 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of… I played that CD over and over in college and never got sick of it. When I saw them show up on the bill for LEAF, I was psyched. Of course, I also wondered if they would live up to my expectations. Did they ever! They were phenomenal. This concert was one of the most high energy shows I have ever seen and with a super positive message. It was truly an uplifting experience." I enjoyed the hearts of the people at the Lake Eden Arts festival, the organizers, the volunteers and the fan's were really kind. I also loved that they had a lot of kids activities, no drug promotion and fun camping going on all around! Musical groups of ALL genre's could be heard floating in the warm atmosphere, while humans mixed with nature in perfect harmony! Read more!

Art & Soul 2008!

By ADAM M. PEACE Originally Published June 2, 2008 There is a common misconception that a person truly living a Christian lifestyle cannot have fun because everything considered “fun” is sin. Well, through the Metro Atlanta Church of Christ (The GACC & ANCOC), God annihilated this theory last Sunday, May 25th, through Art & Soul! Disciples from all over the nation came together for this mass celebration and a chance to glorify God with their talents. With a wide array of creativity and diversity, spectators were continuously surprised with the different elements of performances that embodied Art & Soul! As the show started, the audience was greeted by the hosts of the evening, the charismatic Raymond Edwards Jr. and the comical Marcus McNeil. After getting the audience excited, they brought out the first performer, Ashaki Broadus, who got the show started with a bang with her performance of Mary J. Blige’s “Just Fine.” Next up was Sylvester “Sly” Walker featuring Jerod “J-Rod” Mundy and Jodi Lewis. The trio performed an original hip hop and R&B performance showing us how we have to “learn to fly.” Rodrigus Graham, a sophomore at Morehouse College, then did a monologue that tugged on everyone’s heart strings as his acting abilities exemplified that of a young Sidney Poitier. Following Rodrigus was Myron Abernathy. Already known in the Kingdom for his tantalizing salsa moves, he did not disappoint as he and his partner set the dance floor on fire! Muy caliente! But next it was “Official Business” when gospel hip-hop artist King got on stage and astounded the audience with his rap style and flow. One of the highlights of the night was the official Art & Soul Fashion Show! Organized and choreographed by Keegan Leiba, the show was as classy and trendy as it was ground-breaking. It demonstrated how models of all shapes, sizes, ages and races can still rock the runway and look beautiful at the same time! The show also represented how modesty and class can go a very long way and even though it goes against popular demand, skin does not have to be the main accessory. Throughout the show, the audience was captivated as they were immersed in a sea of vibrant colors and patterns, vintage as well as modern wear, formal gowns, precise poses, in-sync choreography, and glamorous jewelry that were all presented with an enchanting sophistication that left everyone wanting more! After the fashion show, Jodi Lewis and the Church Band performed Ben Harper’s “I Wanna Be Ready” giving non-members a taste of the wonderful vocals the Greater Atlanta Church of Christ has the pleasure of hearing every Sunday. The performance that followed was the group, “Brilliance,” which was composed of Almasi & Lisa Sims, a married couple from Tampa, FL. The duo performed an inspiring music ministry with a powerful message that moved the crowd. “He knows my heart but you must know His,” [referring to Jesus] is just one of the convicting lyrics that was heard in their songs. A GACC favorite, Adam Delanoy or “Delanoyz” performed his original hip hop single, “In My Opinion.” The audience was then blown away by the soulful vocals of singer, Nanyana united with the melodic sounds of her band. What can be described as a mix of jazz, funk, folk, and even a little reggae, the performance was amazing as one could hear acoustic, electric, and bass guitars, drums, and bongos in this creative and fun performance. After a short dance break, Chigi Ukadike performed “Are You Ready for Love” by India Arie and Jade Barber read her original poem, “This Dress.” The audience was then brought to their feet with the energetic hip hop group of five, The Elements. Hailing from Columbia, SC, The Elements brought a northern style as they ministered the Gospel through their hip hop rhymes. Afterwards, Demerris Johnson, from Dallas, TX used her soulful, resonant voice to sing hit songs from both Jill Scott and India Arie that had the audience in a trance as they swayed back and forth to her lyrics. But just when everyone thought it was over, when the audience thought that it could not get any better, Arrested Development came on stage! The Grammy-winning hip-hop group brought the house down with an overabundance of brand new songs from their newest album, “Since the Last Time,” as well as classic hits like “Tennessee,” “People Everyday” and “Mr. Wendal!” Yes, God’s power was in full view that night. One of the many amazing things that could be said about the night is that many people had their children there. At Art & Soul there was not one performance where parents were tempted to cover their children’s ears or make them leave early. This showed that it’s possible to have a clean event and still have an awesome time! The turn-out and performances as a whole were truly amazing this year. One can only imagine what God’s going to make happen for next year’s Art & Soul! By ADAM M. PEACE Originally Published June 2, 2008 Read more!

Heaven, Surprises & New roads

This was Originally Posted in July 2007 on ( Hey yawl, Gotta show respects to XXL magazine, MTV, VH-1, Smithsonian, BBC TV, V103fm and Queen Mother Imakhu’s radio show for showing love to AD last week! On the eve of our new album release (October 16th) we bout to hit places that we have never seen before: Singapore, Jerusalem (w/Black Eyed Peas), Dubai, & INDIA! Plus we’re about to hit Santa Monica (Aug. 9th), Jacksonville, Boston, New Haven, DC, Charlottesville, Asheville, Japan (Bringing in the New years), and more dates are still rolling in. Things are growing, like Afrika Bam said “It’s working!” If you wanna get a glimpse of the Brooklyn show I talked about last time, we got some new video of it on our official site! Also…Props to Ithaca, NY for their huge support and a wonderful night to remember a few weeks back! We are shopping for Publicist for the new release, and it’s so hard to get publicity as a positive Hip Hop group in our contemporary music climate! If only I had killed a dude, or at least shot or robbed a man, it would be so much easier! We hear a bunch of magazines tell us "WOW, we LOVE AD, but I'm not sure if you have a place in today’s market?" I'm Like... today more than ever, there’s gotta be a place for us?! We're more relevant than ever before! They gotta come out to the shows, feel the energy, then their doubts will fade, folks want more than what they’re spoon fed! In fact, Yolanda & I was crusin’ through rural Tennessee last week and a white cop pulls us over (I guess, I was speeding :-). I’m like (ut oh) here’s the typical cop bout to harass the black dude in the sports car. It turns out that the cop is a huge fan of the group! He starts showing love for our songs and specifically our message! That same trip, we meet a brother whose puttin’ on the Million Father March this Saturday in Memphis, there’s also one in 200 other cities across the states. Black men are encouraging the fathers to take their kids to their first day of school. It’s a big deal! Cats surely feel the need for changes and this is just one example… Props to my mom on celebrating the 31st Anniversary of her paper, the Milwaukee Community Journal. On August 12th, MCJ will be celebrating black men! There are scholarships being given away, a bunch of cool things are going down. There is room for music that uplifts life instead of death! OK, I am still on an absolute high from the sermon my friend Andrew preached at my church last night! The title was “Where do we all go after we die?” (Whew) The title alone is the subject of everyone’s personal thoughts at one point or another! It was SO revealing, so powerful that I got a whole new perspective on HOW MUCH God has planned for those who follow Him! So much in the bible FINALLY clicked for me after 13 years of questions & confusion! (I’m a preacher – yet I was so confused on this issue!) The topic of death is still something that I believe MOST folk don’t truly have a clue about. (Especially from a biblical perspective) I now better understand how a Christian in the 1st& 2nd Century would literally be burned alive or eaten by Lions rather than deny the name of Jesus! Whew, deep stuff! Just a few of the things I learned: 1.) Nobody’s in heaven, nor hell right now… 2.) THE DEAD are conscious, i.e.: - aware of their own existence, sensations, thoughts, surroundings, etc. 3.) Hades and Hell is NOT the same thing (in the bible) 4.) Our Spirits, our souls, are not necessarily eternal 5.) Dog’s, other animals don’t go to heaven 6.) And God’s judgment of us, is strictly from what we do on earth! Once we die, we can’t change our fate. Ummm, juicy stuff right? (Smiles) Anyway…if anyone’s interested, simply hit me back and I can send you some notes! Speaking on death, Thursday, July 19th, while I was preparing to do a concert with AD, my last living grandma, Bernice Thomas, died. We all called her Grandma Bonnie. To say we miss her is an understatement. Grandma Bonnie was the type to welcome folks into her home, cook big meals and take you in. Throughout her life, Bonnie had a bunch of “kids” and most weren’t hers. (Feel me) I was on tour when I got the news. Then the night we arrived home from the tour… We pulled into our driveway and Queenie; my oldest dog ran up to greet us. But soon as we got out the car, Queenie quietly layed down and died right there in front of my wife, the kids and I. She lived with our family for 13 years, I know she literally waited until I came back to say bye. It was a deep week, and a surreal night. I buried Queenie the next morning. Life is Poetry. Peace & Strength, SPEECH Read more!


ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT TAKES ME HOME "And I am still thirsty." Originally Posted by Leslie Streeter March 8 And it is with that quiet, powerful declaration that Langerado officially got to me. I've spent the last two days watching the jam-minded of every generation, from toddlers to gray-haired men in wheelchairs, dancing in the same muddy fields, bopping their heads to the same beats, waiting in line for the same vegan curry. And it made me feel good, in a reflective, pretentious journalist sort of way, But about an hour ago, I felt myself sway to songs whose lyrics I forgot I knew, from more than a decade ago, when I was an impressionable college kid who thought I knew everything, yet yearned for the things I'd yet to learn. And I remember how the songs of Arrested Development spoke to me at a time when wearing your African-American hair natural was a radical statement and the phrase "Afro-centric" could start a fight and inspire accusations of racism and anti-Americanism. And amid the gangster rap that spoke of the anger of the inner city and a generation considered a threat, AD's Speech channeled that anger into a call for pride in our ancestral selves and the need not to turn on each other, both as a people of African heritage and as a nation. People laughed at songs like "Tennessee" and "Mr. Wendell" for being soft, wimpy, out of touch, but there's more than a touch of the revolutionary in reminding a people to be thirsty for their history and their pride. So I'm grooving in this field in 2008, surrounded not only by young white kids with dreadlocks but older black dudes wearing them also, but tiny blond girls in pigtails and sistas with 'fros like me, and we're all chanting that line. We are still thirsty. Now we're collectively thirsty for peace, and clean air and water. But we're all still thirsty, and even though things are a long way from perfect, we've reached a time, 16 years after "Tennessee" and those songs were released, where there are 'fros and dreads everywhere, where people of every heritage are interested in Africa and in cultures that are not necessarily theirs. It's not a perfect place to be. But it's encouraging. I know there are some people just dancing and mouthing words, but I have to believe that a lot of the people there meant it. And this makes a sista happy. Originally Posted by Leslie Streeter March 8 Read more!

Bela Fleck, Abigal Washburn & Arrested Development Jam in Asheville

Orange Peel, voted one of the top 5 music venues in America by Rolling Stone Magazine, had a great happening April 17th 2008! The folks of every age, race and class were fired up to volunteer their services and hours of their life to support our voting process in America. It was simply amazing! Banjo master Béla Fleck, singer/songwriter Abigail Washburn and cellist Ben Sollee, Arrested Development did powerful sets! (If I must say so myself :-) It is one of my FAVORITE places to play and the people of Asheville are so full of the right kind of energy that this country needs more of! They are international in their scope, they are conscious about their lives and the lives of others. They love the Earth, and they are not afraid of learning about politics and getting involved! Washburn sang some songs in Mandarin, the trio also played renditions of songs that marked the social-political revolution of the sixties — such as Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin’.” Béla Fleck played an amazing variation of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” He told the audience that before Obama came on the scene, it had been 15 years since he had cared about politics. The young Mayor of Asheville, Terry Bellamy took the stage for a few moments between sets, opening her remarks with the famous quote from Ghandi, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.” Mountain Xpress writer, Mannie dalton, said
(Arrested Development) The group had people jumping, clapping and swaying for the remainder of the evening, raising the energy in the house to new levels. At one point, I told the crowd it was the first time in my life that I’d been excited about politics. I see clearly that “Obama’s hopeful vision has single-handedly inspired a generation of Americans who were thoroughly disillusioned with politics and politicians.”
Read more!

TV's Portrayal of Blacks

I'm Black, I love movies, I enjoy TV shows, and I'm proud to be an American, so it's all good. (Or is it?)
Although there are more images of African-Americans on television now than ever, these images are still too often harmful to the prospect of unity between the races. It's still rare to see meaningful black love relationships on TV, in media in general and in society. Even after more than 200 years of such nonsense the perceptions are still twisted. we have further to go! While Black actors are now more visible in films, it is an open question as to how well they are being represented. Compare, for example, how Blacks and Whites are portrayed in the top movies of 1996. (only 12 years ago)
• Black female movie characters shown using vulgar profanity: 89% to white females: 17% • Black female movie characters shown being physically violent: 56% to white females: 11% • Black female movie characters shown being restrained: 55% to White females: 6% A mug shot of a Black defendant is 4 times more likely to appear in a local television news report than of a White defendant • The accused black is 2 times more likely to be shown physically restrained in a local television news report than when the accused is White • The name of the accused is 2 times more likely to be shown on screen in a local TV news report if the defendant is Black, rather than White • Research findings are reprinted with permission. Copyright notice: 2000 by Robert M. Entman and Andrew Rojecki.
Journalist Juan Williams sites:
• • One of the most damaging forces tearing at young black people in America today is the popular culture's pernicious image of what an "authentic" black person is supposed to look like and how that person is supposed to act.
• For example, VH-1's highly rated Flavor of Love show
features a black man in a clownish hat, a big clock hanging around his neck, spewing the N-word while demeaning black women. And hip-hop music videos celebrate the "Thug Life" and "gansta" attitude for any young black person seeking strong racial identity.
Now believe me I (SPEECH) am one of the BIGGEST Public Enemy fans there is! And I love Flav's vibe, artistry and style! But I must say it didn't surprise me AT ALL that his image, instead of a Chuck D, or Me for instance, would draw the attention of executives and decision makers at Viacom, MTV, VH-1.
• Journalist Juan Williams sites:
A critic who points out that this so-called culture is defeatist and damaging — because it leads to high drop-out rates, record black-on-black murder statistics and a record number of out-of-wedlock births — is dismissed as a prude and a censor.
Anyone questioning lyrics that glorify violence and make it cool to treat women as sex toys is told that the words reflect the reality of black life, and that they are "acting white."
• Well, today there is new fuel for the debate...
• A poll released by the Pew Research Center, in association with NPR, finds that 67 percent of black men and 74 percent of black women think rap music is a bad influence on black America. In fact, 59 percent of black men and 63 percent of black women think the whole hip-hop industry — from the jail house fashion of pants hanging low, to indifference to work and school — is equally detrimental to black America. • White and Hispanic Americans agree, too. The Pew poll finds 64 percent of whites and 59 percent of Hispanics agree on the damaging impact of hip hop. • This Pew poll is a uniquely reliable measure of black opinion. Unlike most polls, it has a large sample of black people, in addition to whites and Hispanics. Most polls include such a small number of blacks and Hispanics that it is hard to draw reliable conclusions about racial issues. This poll is different and its findings are stunning.
• Damaging Media Images
• For example, young black people are the most upset (when compared to older blacks in the poll) about the way black Americans are portrayed on television and in the movies. Blacks under the age of 50 are much more likely to say media images of black people are worse today than they were 10 years ago.
SO WHO EXACTLY DOES LIKE THIS PORTRAYAL? WHO IS LOVIN' THIS IMAGE OF US? Since it ain't us & it ain't whites! (Could it be Black & white corporate America?) (uumm - that a be YES!)
The destruction of the black family is not comedy fodder. The fact that so many black men have several children with several different women only builds an argument for them being more related to animals than humans. So why is there going to be a comedy show about it? Why aren't surprised?
• And the proportion of young black people in the 18-29 age group who condemn the current media images of black people is 31 percent — higher than the 25 percent of blacks between the ages of 30-49, and the 17 percent of blacks in the 50-64 age group with similar disdain for black images in the media. • Similarly, when asked if the portrayal of black people on television and in the movies is harmful, it is young black people who most likely scream "Yes!" More than half (54 percent) of 18- to 29-year-old African Americans say black people are presented in a negative way in movies and TV shows. Fifty percent of black people ages 34-49 agree.
A recent blog posted by LADYMILZ says:
"I flip through the channels on a Saturday afternoon, I find it harder and harder to change the channel and not see black women as either video vixens or reality show whores. Reality shows are the new rap videos on television. From MTV to VH1, women with low morals and lower cut shirts who are in search of their 15 minutes of fame flock to these trashy yet oh so irresistible dating reality shows. Sadly, I am one of many who have become a fiend to the bad reality show drug cartel. I can’t help but be hypnotized by watching scantly clad women embarrass and degrade themselves. I shake my head, and I’m even ashamed that they are one of the few representations black women have on television. Reality shows provide women to go from nameless “video hoes” to D-List celebrities. Just walk by any magazine rack and see who is flaunting the latest cover of King Magazine, Black Men and Smooth Magazine . The only difference is that they are on TV constantly, so they are shown more frequently than in printed magazines or your typical rap music video. Ever since slavery, black women were treated as sexual objects, admired for their curvaceous bodies. They were raped, molested and abused by their white slave masters. Our black men have taken the role of the slave master and are treating black women as if their a__ is their only asset and their breasts are the best thing they have going for them. I blame rappers for continuing the exploitation of black women.
The media images portrayed through their videos are abhorrent. Yes, white men started it, but why should black men continue it? Rappers use the justification that these women are not forced to do anything they do not want to do. These women can say “no”; and they can choose to keep their dignity. However, if the only option is to “hoe”, or not to “hoe”, the extremely desperate have no other choice. The women who clearly are willing to stand up and say no are quickly replaced as fast as you can swipe a credit card through a rear end. Little pigtailed girls are passing on double-dutching after school to and running home to watch “106 & Park” and “Rap City”.
They see this lifestyle as the best way to get a guy to like you is by wearing barely anything and demeaning yourself. These are the prime years where they gain confidence self esteem and find their identities. What’s painstakingly obvious and saddening is that there used to be role model types for young girls to model themselves after. You can see this as recently as the 80s & 90s. Not only were there positive strong images of women, but there was a tide turning of in the depiction what a black woman was and what she stood for.
Where are the women of today to be that model? Instead of strong images of black women, they are constantly internalizing these depictions of what it is to be a woman. If they mirror these shows and videos on TV, we are going to have a generation filled with disrespectful men and promiscuous women.. Many black men have replaced the white slave master by treating women of color as over sexed objects. So I have this to say, black men, step up and stop treating your women this way. Black women, step up and do not let black men treat you the way they do. Sounds simple enough? Try it and see what change it makes."
In all fairness to Hip-Hop, I wrote about this years ago, AD songs like "Mama's Always on Stage", "U", and a number of newer joints as well tackle and confront this wack behavior.
Racial stereotypes of African Americans have persisted in American culture since the early black-face minstrel shows of the 19th century which portrayed blacks as joyous, naive, and ignorant.
Early minstrel shows lampooned the assumed stupidity of black people. Detail from cover of The Celebrated Negro Melodies, as Sung by the Virginia Minstrels, 1843
Stereotypes continue today as blacks are often portrayed as athletic, poor, and criminals. Black stereotypes: then and now In the 1930's, studies found a high level of consistency among adjectives used to describe black people. Furthermore, most of these adjectives were negative, and included terms such as superstitious, lazy, and ignorant. Today’s stereotypes are not much different, and include unintelligent, loud, poor, and criminal. Stereotypes can also be “positive” terms, although this does not make them less damaging to their targets. Current stereotypes of African Americans include athletic and musical/rhythmic.
Many of the black stereotypes do not correspond with reality, For example:
Most black people are not poor and most of America's poor people are not black. On TV, black people are depicted as poor nearly twice as often as their true incidence; black people actually account for 24.1% of America’s poor, although many might assume the incidence to be in excess of 50%. • Because black people tend to be stereotyped as criminal, many people are surprised to learn that criminality among African-American youth is significantly lower when it comes to the use of tobacco, alcohol or some illicit drugs; African American youth are significantly less likely to report using these substances than either white or Hispanic young people. Although the reported incidence of weapon carrying and violent behavior was higher among black female students (11.7% and 38.6% respectively) than white female students (3.6% and 22.3%), the race-behavior correlation is broken by the behavior of black male students (23.1% and 44.4%) when compared with white male students (28.6% and 43.2%). • Blackface is a style of theatrical makeup that originated in the United States, used to affect the countenance of an iconic, racist American archetype — that of the darky or coon. White blackface performers in the past used burnt cork and later greasepaint or shoe polish to blacken their skin and exaggerate their lips, often wearing woolly wigs, gloves, tailcoats, or ragged clothes to complete the transformation.
• Characteristics of "Mammy" include dark skin, a heavyset frame and large bust, and overall matronly appearance, complete with an apron around her waist and a kerchief on her head. She is overweight and dressed in gaudy clothing, as well as genial, churchgoing, and spiritual to the point of delusion — "Lord have mercy" is a common phrase associated with this archetype. She is compliant in the face of white authority, as in the Aunt Jemima and Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind's Mammy character, standards of this archetype.
• The term Mammy is a variant of mother, used most prominently by black people in the South during and soon after slavery. White people used the term, as well, to refer to black female slaves, servants and caregivers, as well as a general term for black women. When in common use by white people, the word was often used sentimentally, but many black people considered it patronizing or insulting. Today, the term mammy, when applied to a black woman, is considered highly pejorative. Early minstrel shows lampooned the supposed stupidity of black people. Movies such as Birth of a Nation questioned whether or not black people were fit to run for governmental offices or vote. Secretary of State John C. Calhoun arguing for the extension of slavery in 1844 said, "Here (scientific confirmation) is proof of the necessity of slavery. The African is incapable of self-care and sinks into lunacy under the burden of freedom. It is a mercy to give him the guardianship and protection from mental death." Even after slavery ended the intellectual capacity of black people was still frequently questioned. Lewis Terman wrote in The measurement of intelligence in 1916, "(Black and other ethnic minority children) are uneducatable beyond the nearest rudiments of training. …There is no possibility at present of convincing society that they should not be allowed to reproduce, although from a eugenic point of view they constitute a grave problem because of their unusual prolific breeding." • Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has been often cited as racist due to the depiction of the slave Jim, among other black characters, which has led to schools banning the book. The word "nigger" appears numerous times, and is used to describe Jim and other black characters. While this is not surprising for the time, it is understandably offensive to modern readers, particularly African-American students, who may have been required to read the book in high school. • Political activist and one time presidential candidate Rev. Jesse Jackson said in 1985 that the news media portray black people as "less intelligent than we are." Bill Cosby spoke out publicly in May against dysfunction and irresponsibility in black families, he identified one pervasive symptom: ''boys attacking other boys because the boys are studying and they say, 'You're acting white.'' Film director Spike Lee explains that these images have negative impacts "In my neighborhood, we looked up to athletes, guys who got the ladies, and intelligent people," said Lee. "[Now] If you're intelligent, you're called a white guy or girl." In 1986, Nigerian sociologist John Ogbu co-authored, along with Signithia Fordham, a study that concluded African American students in a Washington, D.C., high school did not live up to their academic potential because of the fear of being accused of "acting white," echoed in his 2003 book Black American Students in an Affluent Suburb: A Study of Academic Disengagement. He concluded that the black students' own cultural attitudes hindered academic achievement and that these attitudes are too often neglected. • Though not all scholars define acting white in precisely the same way, most definitions include a reference to situations where some minority adolescents ridicule their minority peers for engaging in behaviors perceived to be characteristic of whites. Obviously there has been an historical problem with whites branding blacks in warped ways. That cycle, just like any cycle doesn't stop unless challenged and fought! The idea that white is better, more trustworthy, more intelligent, more loving is so sad. I have a 14 year old son (Jahi) and a 11 year old daughter (Zoe). they don't understand the whole causes of these images they see, but they are still effected by them. This must be fought with further intensity! I often watch TV/movies and it's so consistent to see two whites making passionate, meaningful love to each other, maybe violins and strings as their soundtrack. While usually portraying two blacks or a white & black in a jungle-like passion! Even listen to the sound score during those love scenes, and hear the bongo's and congas start up! My white friends don't notice the difference, but the stereotypes none the less play themselves out within white societies perceptions of black culture and ultimately it has even warped the minds of us blacks too. I hope we will start to defy these images and Stand!
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What all Indie artist gotta know!!

I get a lot of emails from artists in my Christian family world-wide and artists in the world asking what to do to break into the indie music industry? I have been doing this professionally since 1983. I have had two Grammy Awards, MTV awards, one NAACP award for my songs. I've been on various labels throughout the world, and I've tried a lot of things. Here's some tips that i got from outside sources that i deeply agree with, and you may want to take to heart, if you REALLY want to make it in this business... Everybody wants success, but what success is changes with each chapter of your life, so remember... "Success is a journey, not a destination" - Anon What is "indie"? It's about having independent artistic control for all areas of one's career. Yet it's frequently necessary to have a 'team' around you. Live bookings, publicity, distribution, online networking, writing, recording, performing depending on what you want from your career, you're probably going to need some help. That help can come from friends, family or band members helping out to contracting a service provider and/or learning from people who already know the information you want and are willing to teach you a quick and easy route to save you from trial and error learning.
100 Tips... (that i agree with) By Artistopia Offline and online music promotion and marketing exposure is an ongoing process in this DIY age. Music companies are looking for artists that already have fan bases, sold CDs, and are proven ready to move up to a higher level. Presented here are more than 100 tips and ideas for you to think about and tweak as you will, to get noticed, gain fans, and get heard. You have to find a way to stand above the crowd, for talent alone is not enough. Promo Tip #1 A music artist must start somewhere, that's usually locally, but it's better to not just dive in without a plan. But begin you must. Create a plan with some ideas and set goals as to what you need to accomplish weekly, monthly, and yearly. Start small and make it progressive. Reach bench marks and keep at it. Promo Tip #2 Image is everything. Image is the complete package - artist/band name, look, performance, merchandise, and style, to how that brand is marketed. A stage name can be a descriptive statement of the image you or your band project. Be unique and interesting to look at in some way, build your own unique stage persona. Promo Tip #3 Word of mouth has always been the best promotion - tell people what you do. Get people talking. Create your buzz by just giving enough info to get people interested, but hold some secrets close. Promo Tip #4 Those that promote the most win. Promo Tip #5 You may be a truly great talent, but without getting out there and consistently marketing yourself, networking, meeting the right people, maintaining your image, and being humble, your talent will only get you so far. Promo Tip #6 Be innovative in your promotional efforts! The Internet has made it possible to hear a LOT more music, from a LOT more artists. You are now a very small fish in a very large pond - you will need to find a way to stand out, above and glow in the dark. Think beyond the box on every promo tip. Promo Tip #7 Learn web basics to use the Net to your advantage. The Internet thrives on links, quality content, keywords and consistency. Properly use the tools of the Internet to build your online brand. Promo Tip #8 Create a web site. Buy your own artist name or band name URL for your web site, keep it simple, easy to remember, make sure it loads quickly and is easy to navigate. Promo Tip #9 Submit your web link to online music directories, search engines, good music resource sites, in the best possible descriptive category. Use niche sites like tour date sites, lifestyle, regional, music magazine, music ezines, music Blogs and similarly themed sites. Promo Tip #10 Use Myspace, Tagworld, Frappr, Facebook and any of the good social networks and extend your fan base. Update on a regular schedule. Promo Tip #11 Go beyond the social networks and sign up to the best indie and unsigned music artist sites. Add a full profile, good photos, your best music, update the info regularly and DO NOT REDIRECT them with only a little info to find out more at another site. These indie communities are built to attract music biz personnel as well, to browse for the talent needed for various projects. While you have the viewers attention and time, have the important info right there, don't waste their time with a redirect link! Include a link to your main site, if they want to learn more they will go to it. Promo Tip #12 Hand out your CDs (or demos). Have your web link printed on the CD. Include your band name and contact info as well. Remember, your name on the work is more important than the name of the work. Hand the CD to club owners that feature your type of music. Promo Tip #13 Send press releases and reviews of your shows to local print newspapers, magazines and event papers. When writing press releases, read up on "press release tips" and the like to tweak your presentation. Promo Tip #14 Professional photos mean you take yourself seriously. All photos in your press kit should be quality photos, not just your main bio picture. The money spent on a photographer that can capture your music "image" is money well spent. Promo Tip #15 Collect addresses and email addresses (email is free!) to keep your fans current on what you are up to. When building your lists, try to list their location - city, state and zip with a bit of personal input about that fan. This is a great way to create a more personal and targeted mailing list without bombarding people that are too far away to attend a show. Promo Tip #16 Practice and practice and practice. Longevity in the music business means learning new things, constantly creating, and always improving. Promo Tip #17 Zero in on your target. Know where they hang out, where they shop, what they do for fun, and hit them where they live - online and off. Your audience is a specific crowd of people so don't waste time being where they are not. Promo Tip #18 Play, play and play some more. Get gigs in one part of town on Friday and another part of town on Saturday. Do mini tours outside of your town. Promo Tip #19 Create your own support group of family, friends, and school mates - communicate well with them on your plans and goals to help spread the word on you, where you plan to go and how you plan on getting there. Delegate tasks to the appropriate people. Promo Tip #20 Online send out press releases and reviews of shows via all appropriate sites. Promo Tip #21 Get online air play. There are a lot of indie radio webcasts, join sites and do what you have to do to get on the playlists. Promo Tip #22 Create an interesting banner to drop in your forum signatures or other online locations. Many message boards will let you leave a link and/or banner in your signature, but don't like blatant advertising. Promo Tip #23 Brand your name across the world and be ever mindful of the image you wish to portray whenever out in public or online. When it's in print, it's permanent. Promo Tip #24 There is such a thing as overkill, in that it is better to describe your band/music as "we sound similar to the Beatles" rather than "we are the biggest thing since Led Zeppelin!" (or better than). So word your description accordingly. Promo Tip #25 The music business is in the business to make money. If your career is in music, know when to be businesslike. Promo Tip #26 Learn every area of the business you are in. Knowledge is power. Promo Tip #27 You must network. Meet people, get out there, shake hands, listen to them as well and let them know about your music. Build those relationships. Promo Tip #28 Be on friendly terms with other bands and artists in your area. Promo Tip #29 Create a "street team", online and/or offline...they are core people that wish to help you further your marketing efforts. Give away free tickets, CDs or merchandise to your street team as incentive. Promo Tip #30 Announce every song, every CD, decent chart position, contest win, top sales on releases, announce anything and everything to stay in the public's eye. If you can't write a decent article up for the press release, get someone that can. Write a review of every gig and get feedback from local VIPs, fans, whomever matters and include the best quotes. Is it news worthy? Write and promote it. Get the most mileage you can from your promotional tactics. Promo Tip #31 Never mail your CD without a purpose or a contact person's name on it and expect miracles. Far better that the contact person knows to expect your CD, his or her name is spelled correctly, and you are mailing it to a company that actually works with your style of music. Promo Tip #32 Wear your band! Get a jacket, t-shirts (etc) and add your band name or logo on it. Wear it everywhere and be a walking advertisement. If you have a niche fan base, think of a merchandise item that they need that of course has your name on it! Promo Tip #33 Create an interesting band logo. It can be a conversation starter or a potential contest question. Promo Tip #34 Join a Songwriting Circle. This is a local idea (though it is possible through the Internet), to meet with other songwriters in your own area and share your songs. You can get feedback on your work, share ideas and tips, possibly collaborate on work, learn about what's happening locally, help each other in many ways. If you wanted to start your own circle or look for one, you could use Craigslist for your Wanted or Needed post. Most ask that you be open minded and dedicated, with a willingness to listen and give feedback. Promo Tip #35 Burn your best song as a single. On the CD and cover include ALL contact info, website, names, etc and distribute that CD wherever you go, for free. Promo Tip #36 Have a custom vinyl car wrap created about your music/band and put it on your car. OR a use a magnetic door sign for your vehicle will work as well. Promo Tip #37 Cross promote online on your web sites with local bands as well. You give them a boost on your site and they give the same back to you. Ask other people to LINK TO YOUR music site from their website! Promo Tip #38 Introducing your band whether in person or online has a lot of similarity in speech writing techniques, in that you have to grab the reader or listener or viewer in the first 30 seconds. Your opening line needs to have punch, snag the audience and reel them right in. Remember the rock group KISS and "Are you ready to Rock?!!" Find your attention getting line and use it. Don't fall victim to the less inspiring, "um, hi guys, um, we are the 'Example' band..." Promo Tip #39 Use Internet class ads as well as local newspapers to promote upcoming events and possible collaborations with others. Print papers and magazines need advance notice so plan accordingly. Promo Tip #40 Create an online newsletter, with content of value to the receiver. This is an invaluable way to keep fans informed on gigs, news, gossip, new releases and other great info. Send out your newsletter about once a month. Promo Tip #41 Be outrageous or controversial. Shock value can work, but it can backfire too!! Can you maintain the image? It has worked for many, but was a disaster for many more. Think this tip out. Promo Tip #42 Create a fan club online and get them to spread your banners, links and provide content for them to spread. Promo Tip #43 Who are the VIPs in your community - who are the popular people in your area? Get to know them, give them a free CD and invite them to your show. When they speak, others will listen. Promo Tip #44 Create a video and get on YouTube. Place your video on all relevant video sites. Video Scrapbook (or Diary) your music band's progress, accomplishments, and jam sessions. This could make for good clips in other projects. Promo Tip #45 Have a CD, digital download and other merchandise for sale. Generate some sales so you have something to invest in other areas of your marketing effort. Promo Tip #46 Have star quality, but don't be a big-head. Let people know you are professional and have the ability to be a long lasting star in this business. Promo Tip #47 Never Spam email. Promo Tip #48 Have a press kit ready to send out or email. Have it neatly organized with a brief bio, a short description (about 30 words or less) on what you sound like, full length bio, quality photos, music samples, current press releases and quality newsworthy items, song lyrics, radio airplay and chart position information, and detailed contact information. Promo Tip #49 Join online music groups and newsgroups. Promo Tip #50 Be a bit mysterious, hold back and leave them wanting more. Timing is everything for some info, releases, etc. Promo Tip #51 Create a music slogan of up to 8 words (less is better) that quickly, accurately and in a catchy manner describes your music in a real way. Promo Tip #52 Give a review to get a review, honestly is the best policy, but never brutality. Many times someone will return the favor and it shows your knowledge, your twist, on the music created. Promo Tip #53 Print up posters and/or flyers about your upcoming show and post them wherever your type of fans would hang out and include your web link, show date, name of CD, where CD can be purchased. Promo Tip #54 Get into podcasting and videocasting yourself or making your music available for podcasting. Promo Tip #55 Tag your MP3s with your name or band name, not just the song name. They need to know WHO did this material when they happen across it months later. Promo Tip #56 Know who you are! Get into an appropriate category so that you can be found. People have to be able to identify your sound into a category that they can identify with. You may want to portray a new edgy sound, which is fine, but there are still general categories that people search on in record stores or online and you have to be found in one of them. Promo Tip #57 Throw a listen-in. Contact record stores, coffee shops, book stores, malls, recreational areas, galleries, cool clothing stores or nightclubs that are willing to support local music. The free listen-in could have talk session and discounted CDs with coupons. Promo Tip #58 Keep it simple silly, web sites that take a long time to load, are not easy to navigate, and are not interesting will not keep the viewer's attention long enough for them to get to know you. So don't make your personal website or any site that can be customized, so frilly that it turns a potential opportunity away. Promo Tip #59 Join local communities and organizations and go to meetings periodically and pay attention. Listen for opportunities in what they are saying and perhaps volunteer. Help them and they will help you. Nonprofit organizations are likely to have access to media outlets that may give your some exposure. Promo Tip #60 Check your public and local radio stations that play your type of music and try to get some air time. Promo Tip #61 You will hear a lot of no's and negativity. That is to be expected as everyone's taste is different. Hopefully someone will give you some constructive criticism. Learn from it what you can but keep moving forward. Promo Tip #62 Develop yourself as a complete package. Record labels do not spend the money on A&R as in the day. Educate yourself as a well-rounded music artist and present yourself as such. Promo Tip #63 Elevator Pitch - If you only have one shot to make an impression in 30 seconds or less, can you do it? You will need to, so practice it! Promo Tip #64 Post your gigs on your website(s), class ads, Craigslist, Backpage and other sites for your location. Promo Tip #65 Submit your music to songwriting competitions, musician competitions, singing contests - try out for American Idol, for gosh sakes! Promo Tip #66 Do a free conference call to chat with fans using your website. Record the call and follow up by posting the MP3 on your site. Promote it for all its worth. Promo Tip #67 Never release an inferior product, send out professional, and only your very best demos and new releases. Promo Tip #68 Get testimonials and reviews from people that matter and start locally if you have to. Add them to your press kit. Promo Tip #69 Make sure you make it easy for potentials sales to happen whether on your site or at a show. Make the payment process, safe, secure and EASY. Promo Tip #70 Have a house concert. Invite the neighborhood to your backyard. Promo Tip #71 Give your fans insider, behind the scenes, back stage with the band info and videos. This is great info to include in newsletters - people that signed up to learn more about you on purpose. Promo Tip #72 Take the good with the bad, and take it all graciously. You must keep your image clean or at least maintain the aforementioned image. Promo Tip #73 Don't waste time, prioritize and go with the best bets. Put your energy into the correct market for YOUR music. Promo Tip #74 If you can write well about a music subject, write and distribute articles. Always source the article back to your website. Let it be redistributed with the bottom author source info to spread your message and link. Promo Tip #75 Gig swap with other bands from another area to widen your fan base. Promo Tip #76 A music profile or bio, press kit and press releases should all be well written, free of misspellings, kept current, and to the point. Schedule updates of your various online activities. Promo Tip #77 Find a business in your area that you can partner with for mutual benefit. If something about a song, style, or image would boost a local business, develop a cross promotional relationship. Promo Tip #78 Respond to all your correspondence in a timely, businesslike, and correct manner - appropriate to the sender. Be considerate of your audience. Promo Tip #79 Give people what they want. It's all about the fans. If they come to your website, give them information that makes THEM feel good. If they come to your show, entertain them, thank them and thank the venue for the experience. Promo Tip #80 Don't disappear. Once you have started building your momentum, it is a continuous onslaught. Promo Tip #81 Attend music conferences, indie showcases, music festivals. Gain exposure and network. Promo Tip #82 Be easy to work with and be flexible. A good reputation carries a lot of weight. Flexibility can also mean possibly adjusting areas of your work or image so as to get your foot in the door if need be. Promo Tip #83 Have a cause. Create an event to promote that cause. Team up with other like-minded bands and make a news worthy event out of that cause. Promo Tip #84 Business Cards - When talking to anyone, hand one out. You must include the link to your website. Consider your link as your online business card. Example: Promo Tip #85 Rolodex your contact list (some sites have contact managers in their member consoles). Make a list and keep it current of all the places online and offline that you need to post to when you need to send out reoccurring press releases of news and events. Be aware that many sites have limits in number and/or timeframes, be careful to not exceed them. Promo Tip #86 Invoke your personality into your writings to make your invitations, announcements and introductions fun and effective. Promo Tip #87 Clearly define what you are about - quickly, online or offline. People have short attention spans and are short on time - not just the music industry, but most people in general. This is very important! Don't waste words. Make anything you have to say about yourself or band enough to give the important necessary information and cut out the nonsense. Promo Tip #88 Create a band calendar with some humorous photos of the various band members at various events. Promo Tip #89 You heard it through the grapevine. Share "some" inside knowledge with other bands and songwriters in your area. Start your own information highway. Promo Tip #90 Create an automated template for emails. Take the time to add the person's name with a personal tidbit, but save time with a readymade email guide. Respond to unsolicited emails with your own personalized marketing message and a link to your website. Promo Tip #91 Play for free if you have to, any where, any time. Create an event, an event with a cause and donate the proceeds to a charity. This can open up some interesting contacts and opportunities. Sponsor an event. Promo Tip #92 Reach out and touch your fans. Whether someone else is maintaining your online presence or not, occasionally touch base with fans personally. Promo Tip #93 Include every ounce of contact info needed upon every available surface. Promo Tip #94 Borrow an idea from other sources, even outside the music industry. If it works for that company, perhaps you can adapt the idea to market your music as well. Find a way to put a new twist or slant on a successful bands tactics. Promo Tip #95 Send birthday cards to your fans...of course you need to get their birthday info when they sign up for mailing lists. Promo Tip #96 Get involved in the music forums and message boards that target your music segment and ALWAYS include your signature URL (aka web link)!! Example: Promo Tip #97 Start a Music or Band Blog, well written and kept current. Submit it to music Blog directories. Promo Tip #98 Create a novelty song that topics a holiday, a hot news item, your city or town, sports team, political event or other idea and gain exposure on promoting this song. Promo Tip #99 Listen to your fans and learn what brought them to your show. This is very effective to giving you feedback on which promotional tool worked. Promo Tip #100 Success doesn't happen to those that wait. A record label , music deal, stardom, just creating a website "and they will come" doesn't just land in your lap with you doing nothing. You have to make success come to you. Be persistent, be confident, roll up your sleeves, it's going to take some serious work. Just couldn't stop at 100! Here are a few more great tips: Promo Tip #101 Use the Internet to research and keep current on new ways and new sites to market your music. Promo Tip #102 Strength in numbers. Build joint ventures, collaborations and/or online partners on a project and both of you market that project. Promo Tip #103 Have a professional email address. Example: Promo Tip #104 Don't burn your bridges. Even with the increasing number of music "wanna-be's" the music industry is a relatively small and close knit community. A wrong done to you by someone early in your career, may be that "someone" in a position of music power one day that you just might need to do business with. Promo Tip #105 Join the party, even if you aren't in the mood. Don't respond to the inevitable "what do you do" question with your day job, but tell your potentially new fan you are a musician and hand them your business card. Promo Tip #106 Keep a journal of your marketing efforts with what worked and what did not work. This can be used in many ways down the road besides tracking your efforts. A book or e-book maybe? Promo Tip #107 If out partying, have a designated friend or band mate for image control. If you get into something that could potentially land you in trouble, that controller gets you out of the situation before it can hurt your image. Video can be on the Internet before you even get home, so protect your image at all costs if you happen to get out of control. Promo Tip #108 Business is business. There is a time and place for slang/explicit language, behavior, and the like. Project yourself in a professional manner. Know when you are onstage and when you are not. Promo Tip #109 Get your own competition going about your band or a new release. Give something away, have fans register at local record stores, find a way to get buzz going by asking a great question. Promo Tip #110 Self promote everyday, in everyway, one way or the other. Some of these pointers may not be for you. That's fine. Do what you need to do, just make sure we ALL hear about you. Very true that many artists do not have the funds to do some of these tips, well, with the Internet and some ingenuity it possible to get around this to an extent. The difference between you and another band that made it may not be that their music was better. It might be that they found a way to get noticed better. The music industry needs music talent and is constantly on the look out for something that stands out. If you have the guts and perseverance, it can be you. About the Author Artistopia is an artist development and community on the web providing music artists, songwriters and bands all the tools needed for displaying their talent, music business collaboration, marketing and networking. Well there you go, 110 tips to market your music online and offline. There are a lot of great suggestions here. That's the really good thing about being independent. You are always learning and growing with your music. It's also very important to be consistant with your music marketing. Don't do things too quickly and give away too much of yourself in a short space of time. Do something for your music career every day. Plan for it. It will be the best investment you can ever make for yourself. “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle."-- Abraham Lincoln
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Arrested Development's "Reunion"

It's really not a reunion, we've been together again for 8 years now, but the U.S. thinks the world revolves around we supported that stupidity by saying "Since The Last Time" was our first record in 12 years. Really it isn't. (It just is in the U.S.) We've been doing music over in Europe, Japan, Australia, and Singapore long before we ever decided to do it in the states. Our first true reunion was in 2000. We did a record for Japan called, Heroes of the Harvest. It was a major victory for us! We got to do it in Tree Sounds Studio's with a dream team of musicians and Engineers. I really loved that moment in time. We recorded way more material than we expected to. We tracked over 30 songs. We ended up doing a EP called "Da Feelin'" first then the full length record. Our thought was to try this thing again. Over the years since our split in late 1995, we we’re just living life, doing things creatively but wondering what would happen if we did something together again. Many groups and solo artists came and went, some of which inspired us and others didn’t. Hip-Hop had gotten so degrading lyrically, socially and even in real life, with the slayings of a number of artists, that we wanted to do a hip-hop record in the tradition of honest hip-hop. We gotta admit that we struggled with insecurity due to the fact that we hadn’t been out in such a long time, and we were getting older, married, children etc. Plus all the individual members were in such a different space than 5 years ago. Eshe was straight up and down R&B, Raz was into hardcore hip-hop and dance stuff, and Speech was the flower child, crazy-eclectic. Baba always was a blues fiend; of course he came from a totally different generation than we did, so that was expected. We wanted to maintain our own sensibility, but yet be somewhat current and cohesive. That proved to be much easier said than done. We then did two other albums: "Among The Trees" & "Since The Last Time" (Out Now) Our major inspirations were The Roots, Common and the likes. That doesn’t mean that you’ll actually hear their vibe on the tracks, we were just inspired by them. We wanted to play most of the stuff live, so we hired our band members to help convey what we earlier had programmed. And it turned out pretty cool. Now mind you we’re our worst critics. However, there are some very nice moments on the various albums. We didn’t like every song, and as we listen to some of it today we’re embarrassed, but not so much that we wouldn’t want the public to hear where we were. Don’t be surprised if you hear these songs later metamorph-I-sized in some of our later recordings cuz these albums weren't widely released. And a lot of the concepts could use further development. In fact, to you the purchaser, you’ll want to keep all of em as collector’s items. No one except Japan has heard most of it, and the artwork for U.S. releases are totally different, than the Japan releases. Art (musically and visually) is never finished; it’s constantly evolving. And we as a group hope that you enjoy those moment's in time, with us. Tell a friend, to tell a friend. And until we meet, stay thirsty for truth. Peace… Read more!