Speech’s development not arresting

After releasing two unsuccessful albums, ex- Arrested Development member, Speech is probably hoping the third time will be a charm. Speech, co-founder and lyricist of the group that took us to Tennessee and introduced us to Mr. Wendal, is now a veteran solo artist.

After a two-year stint in Asia, “Spiritual People” was released to American audiences Tuesday.

Speech’s most recent project shows that even without his band of urban Bohemians, he is still committed to bringing socially conscious lyrics to a culturally impoverished industry.

He offers listeners a fusion of folk music, hip hop, reggae and alternative rock.

Imagine Blink 182 and a watered-down Bob Marley meeting Bob Dylan with “two turntables and a microphone.”

Speech’s middle-of-the-fence style is happy and easy to listen to. It’s something to play in the kitchen while churning fresh ice cream or while driving at noon down an open road.

Track three, “The Simple Love of Life,” is a perfect example of Speech’s longing for better days. “Racisms got me down/ sexism all around/stealing our joy/whose behind the ploy/what ever happened to just the simple love of life?”

But don’t let the peaceful attitude fool you. Speech does his fair share of trash talking in “Y-O,” but even that is in a very gentle, universal love and oh-so Speech-like way.

He says, “I happen to like apples and oranges, not tangerines/not dissin’ tangerines/not dissin’ tangerines/but I think your style is quite dysfunctional/I kick a style that’s ill with the flow … (I’m) an innovator not an imitator MC/won’t catch me signing like no Puffy”

Speech is right about that. He won’t be signing like Puffy.

The album features subjects like brotherhood, materialism, technology and even touches on “colored people time” with the closing track “Late For My Own Funeral.”

Not to be pessimistic but this album doesn’t have enough mass appeal to really make a mark outside of coffee shops, hip-hop hippie circles and die-hard Arrested Development fan clubs – if that.

But maybe making money is not what Speech is going for. Maybe he’s just trying to make the kind of music he describes in his opening track, “Brought To You By … (Music & Life).”

He says, “Music used to be a timeless expression of ones soul/the inner examination that made us whole/ the thing that inspired us/the thing that reflected the better part of what society we could be/what we should be/what happened to that music/when we did it for the heart, not for the money.”