Zingalamaduni todd in shadows.jpg

Date Aired
May 2, 2020
Running Time
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Todd: 1992 was a pretty important year for hip-hop.

Clip of Dr. Dre & Snoop Doggy Dogg - "Deep Cover"

Snoop Dogg: Dre

Dr. Dre: What up, Snoop

Snoop: Yo, I got the feeling

Todd (VO): Dr. Dre, previously of N.W.A, released his first solo single in July of that year, not only building up huge buzz for his upcoming record but also introducing the world to his new protege: a young, charismatic up and comer named Snoop Doggy Dogg.

Dre: Yeah, and you don't stop

Snoop: 'Cause it's 187 on a undercover cop

Despite the controversy of their unrepentantly violent lyrics, hype was through the roof when he finally released the album in December.

Clip of Dr. Dre & Snoop Doggy Dogg - "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang"

Dre and Snoop: It's like this and like that and like...

Todd (VO): That album, [album cover fades in for...] The Chronic, may not have invented gangsta rap but it established it as the defining ethos of hip-hop.

Montage clips of MC Hammer - "2 Legit 2 Quit"; Vanilla Ice - "Play That Funky Music"; "Nuthin' but a G Thang" and commercial for The Chronic

At the start of the '90s, rap had its big pop explosion, and it was an extremely mixed blessing. The real fans didn't want rap to be about cheesy rhymes and stupid outfits. Dre and Snoop made rap threatening again. And despite the disapproval of moms everywhere, the songs were so killer that it basically took over all of mainstream hip-hop. The entire arc of popular music was shifted by The Chronic. There's a case to be made that it's the most influential album in rap history.

Todd: Naturally, you can guess where all the awards went that year.

Clip of Martin Lawrence presenting the award for Best Rap Video at the 1993 MTV VMAs

Martin: Arrested Development.

Todd (VO): Yes, Arrested Development.

Todd: Not the TV show, the band.

Aerle Taree: We had some tough competition. Digables, Dre. Oh yeah.

Todd: All I can tell you is, it made sense at the time.

Montage clips of A Tribe Called Quest - "I Left My Wallet In El Segundo"; The Pharcyde - "Ya Mama"; De La Soul - "Say No Go"; Black Sheep - "The Choice Is Yours"; De La Soul - "Buddy (Remix)"; Public Enemy - "Fight the Power"; A Tribe Called Quest - "Scenario"

Todd (VO): Okay, parallel to the rise of gangsta rap there was another movement gaining prominence. It had a lot of different names, or at least it was a bunch of related movements under the same umbrella. Conscious rap, alternative rap, Afrocentric rap. These groups were artsier, more eclectic, they used a lot of jazzy beats and world music rhythms. A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Queen Latifah, The Pharcyde. On top of that, there was also the more militant, political rap like Public Enemy. This was and still is some of the most acclaimed music of the early '90s. Like gangsta rap, it was also poised for a mainstream explosion.

Todd: Just waiting for the right band to take it to a higher level.

Baba Oje: Wake up!

Clip of Arrested Development - "People Everyday"

Headliner: Yo, this is Headliner from Arrested Development, and right now you're in the midst of a celebration.

Arrested Development: I...

Todd (VO): Next to the vapid pop buffoons and the nihilistic gangstas, the Afrocentric bohemian collective of Arrested Development looked like a breath of fresh air.

Clip of Arrested Development - "Revolution"

Aerle Taree: All my people say

Arrested Development: Revolution

Hip-hop had been an urban genre but under the leadership of their frontman Speech, Arrested Development took rap down to the Southern countryside, the roots of African-American culture. And they were spiritual, and they were passionate and respectful of history. They even had an old man as a spiritual advisor who didn't seem to do anything but he looked cool.

Clip of Arrested Development - "Tennessee"

Speech: Take me to another place

Take me to another land

Todd (VO): Arrested Development's debut album [album cover fades in for...] 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of... racked up all the accolades.

Montage of Arrested Development winning awards

LL Cool J: "Tennessee", Arrested Development.

Village Voice's album of the year, A+ from Entertainment Weekly, MTV awards, BET awards, first rap act to win Best New Artist at the Grammys.

Todd: And unlike every other conscious rap act, they were also humongous commercial successes.

Clip of live performance

Todd (VO): Four times platinum. three top ten singles. [clip of...] People were already bumping "Nuthin' but a G Thang" by the end of the year but no one would blame you if you thought Arrested Development was the future of hip-hop.

Todd: Well, let's say that Arrested Development was a fitting name.

Clip of another live performance

Todd (VO): Just two years after they were the toast of popular music, their second album, Zingalamaduni [shot of article: "Suddenly, They Can't Even Get Arrested"] was a colossal failure, yielding no hits, and only reaching #55 on the album charts.

Todd: Number 55! That's thirty spots lower than [brief clip of "(I Know I Got) Skillz" by...] Shaquille O'Neal's rap album!

Clip of Arrested Development - "United Front"

Arrested Development: Everyone is lost and we're looking for a saviour

Todd (VO): Zingalamaduni didn't just sell low numbers, it arguably sold negative numbers, [shot of article: "Why Have Arrested Development Been Written Out of Hip-Hop History?"] in that it seemed to retroactively undo the success of the first album. No one thinks about them anymore, even when you mention them by name...

Todd: ...people think you're talking about the show!

Clip of live performance

Todd (VO): How did they go from prophets of hip-hop to outdated embarrassments that quickly?!

Todd: Well, that's what we're looking at today.

Various images of the bands flash by in the style of the Arrested Development intro

Todd (VO): And now the story. Of a successful rap group that lost everything, and the one album that had no chance but to sink them all into obscurity.

Todd: It's Arrested Development. This is Trainwreckords.

Trainwreckords intro, followed by album cover for Zingalamaduni

Clip of Late Show with David Letterman

David Letterman: ...and they have a new CD as well right here entitled Zingalamaduni. [mild laughter from the audience] Zingalamaduni. [laughter continues]

Todd: The fact that people are already laughing at it is probably a bad sign.

David Letterman: Yeah. This one is also destined for greatness as well.

Todd (VO): It wasn't.

Todd: For what it's worth, I actually bought Arrested Development's first album, and I remember liking it.

Todd (VO): You say that now and people just laugh, like, "[scoffs] Yeah, 1992, innocent time."

Todd: Well, I bought it around 2002...

Todd (VO): ...which was way too late to be listening to Arrested Development.

Screenshot of a tweet by Todd saying "Here's a question I'm curious about, especially for my younger viewers: Is this song in any way familiar to you?" with a link to "Tennessee"

I asked my Millennial followers on Twitter if they knew the band...

Todd: ...and the ones who did said that they knew it from the same place I did, which was VH1.

Intros to VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90's, 100 Greatest Hip-Hop Songs and I Love the '90s

Todd (VO): In the 2000s they were the last place holding up Arrested Development as a significant part of rap history. And even then they weren't always complimentary.

Ice-T: I hated Arrested Development. That was the wackest rap.

Usher: They represented unity, they represented peace, they represented [raises fist] this. Whatever this is, they represented it, 100% of that.

God help me if I ever get...

Todd: ...dunked on by Usher and Ice-T in the span of twenty seconds.

Clip of live performance of "Ease My Mind"

Todd (VO): The thing is, even though Zingalamaduni has been written off as a tank album by a regrettable act, that was not the record's first impression. [shot of Billboard review of the album] You read the reviews, it's certainly not the overwhelming praise of the first record, but there's also no indication that this is gonna be an all...

Todd: ...time bomb. [screen capture of...] On their Wikipedia page, which reads a lot like they wrote it themselves, [highlighted quote "severe lack of promotion"] it gives the same excuse for the failure of the band that [screenshot of article "R.I.P., 'Arrested Development' -- critics' fave not given room to grow"] people give for the failure of Arrested Development, the show.

Todd: Screwed by the higher-ups.

Clip of live performance

Todd (VO): The network, or the label, didn't promote it right, they didn't support it, it never had a chance.

Todd: I mean, I don't know, could be. The thing is...

Trailer for Arrested Development season 4

Todd (VO): ...Arrested Development, the show, is now considered an all-time classic, with the revival by Netflix and everything.

Todd: Nothing like that happened for the band.

Trailer for...

Todd (VO): Speaking of Netflix, I started watching their docu-series Hip-Hop Evolution to see if they'd mention Arrested Development. I watched their alternative rap episode.

Todd: Didn't bring them up once.

Todd (VO): And the episode on the rise of Atlanta hip-hop.

Todd: Got mentioned for, like, half a second.

Montage clips of Kris Kross - "Jump"; TLC - "What About Your Friends"; Outkast - "Player's Ball"; and Arrested Development Grammys interview

Todd (VO): They spent, like, ten minutes on Kris Kross. And TLC, who were not even technically a hip-hop group. People nowadays think it was Outkast that put the ATL on the map, even though two years earlier, Arrested Development was selling millions of records.

Todd: How bad is this second album that it could wipe all that from memory?

Video for Arrested Development - "Ease My Mind"

Todd (VO): Well, there's only one way to find out. Let's check out that lead single from the second album. This is "Ease My Mind".

Todd: This will tell us what went wrong.

Speech: I need some time to ease my mind

I need some time to ease my mind

I need some time to ease my mind

Todd: This isn't bad.

Speech: Life is surrounded with so many insecurities

Backstabbing is like breathing when in poverty

I try to make my sanity with the insane

Todd: This... this is, this is a good song. [shrugs]

Todd (VO): I mean, it's a little more mellow than their big hits, maybe it isn't, like, the big flashy song you want as your lead single, [pause] but I'm enjoying this a lot.

Todd: I mean, I'm still recording this during the big lockdown of 2020...

Todd (VO): ...so I'm pretty open to a song about wanting something to ease your mind, but...this sounds pretty good.

Todd: This is good, right? Am I wrong?

Todd (VO): Okay, well, the popular theory is that they were just done in by the rise of G-funk, and I guess this confirms it.

Todd: It's not the music's fault, it's just the times changing on them.

Video for Snoop Doggy Dogg - "Murder Was the Case"

Todd (VO): Snoop Doggy Dogg hit the scene, and it was 187 on any other kind of hip-hop out there. Just another victim of gangsta violence. Trends shifted, that's all it was.

Todd: [beat] No, that can't be it.

Montage clips of A Tribe Called Quest - "Award Tour"; De La Soul - "Stakes Is High"; Common - "I Used to Love H.E.R"; and The Fugees - "Ready or Not"

Todd (VO): A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul were still putting out records in the G-funk era. Maybe they weren't the biggest thing in the world anymore, but they still sold a whole ton of records. Common debuted that year to high acclaim. The Fugees blew up a couple of years later, they were huge. Their legacy is still secure even though they spent decades embarrassing themselves.

Todd: No, we're missing something here.

Clip of Arrested Development performance

Todd (VO): An entire audience doesn't disappear just 'cause they hear a [brief clip of Snoop Dogg - "Gin and Juice"] few good party songs.

Todd: No, we're gonna drill down on this 'cause there's gotta be a bigger reason somewhere.

Video for "Ease My Mind"

Todd (VO): Okay, uh...got some stuff thanking his mom for giving birth to him.

Speech: From my mama's lips between my mama's hips

Not the way I would have put that but, you know, spiritualism.

Speech: God is secondary to most, when they scrap for money

Todd (VO): Some stuff in there about not selling out for money.

Speech: But then again money can cause even more death

When an African turns n***a step'n fetch'n all

Todd: [beat] Okay, that one might have rubbed people the wrong way. 

Todd (VO): But, you know, that's one line. That's one kind of questionable lyric in an otherwise good song. You don't turn on someone 'cause of one line. 

Todd: But it wasn't just one line, was it? 

Clip of Arrested Development - "Mr. Wendal"

Speech: Aaaaaaaahhhh!

Todd (VO): I can't tell you why the world turned on Arrested Development in just a couple years, but I can tell you that...

Todd: ...after listening to that album happily for about a couple years, I was also kinda like, "Yo, I don't know if I'm okay with some of this".

Speech: Here, have a dollar

In fact, no brotherman - here, have two

Todd (VO): One of the big hits was "Mr. Wendal". It was about a homeless guy, and how we need to respect and understand him, which...

Todd: ...you know, that's fine, but...

Speech: Civilization, are we really civilized, yes or no

Who are we to judge

When thousands of innocent men can be brutally enslaved

And killed over a racist grudge

Todd: Yeah, huh, interesting, eat my ass.

Speech: Mr. Wendal has tried to warn us about our ways

But we don't hear him talk

Todd (VO): Like, I'm sorry, this is just adolescently preachy. Like, yes, every human being deserves respect. That doesn't mean a homeless man has to be a fountain of magical wisdom.

Todd: It's corny and it's condescending.

Speech: Mr. Wendal has freedom

A free that you and I think is dumb

Todd (VO): If this one song gave them a bad reputation for being tedious, I wouldn't be surprised.

Todd: Like, the main rapper is literally named [stock image of a man lecturing a bored-looking woman] Speech!

Video for "Ease My Mind"

Todd (VO): So I don't blame anyone if they were a little tired of the band. Just looking at [shot of...] that tracklist I can tell you, records in the '90s were already too long...

Todd: ...and this already looks like they should have made some cuts.

Shot of album tracklist, with arrows pointing to each track as Todd mentions them

Todd (VO): We've got "United Minds", and then two songs later "United Front", but also "Africa's Inside Me", "Praisin' U", "Kneelin' At My Altar". This looks exhausting.

Todd: But we're about the music, right? The music, the music, the music.

Video for "Tennessee"

Todd (VO): If the tracks didn't hold up, I'd get it, but "Tennessee", "People Everyday", [clip of...] and this new single "Ease My Mind", these are all still good songs. It just doesn't make sense to me.

Todd: Well, let's keep going. Let's check out that second single, "United Front".

Video for Arrested Development - "United Front" starts

Todd cranes his neck in confusion

Headliner: Hands up, people put your hands up

Come on put your hands up, people put your...

Todd: Oh...Okay. [Todd meekly raises his hands]

Speech: The great depression, everyone is in depression

No one knows exactly what's their role

Todd: [singing "People Everyday" with hands still in the air] Ay. Oh. This is the united front?

Nadirah Shakoor: United we stand, united we fall

United we plan as a united front

Todd (VO): Actually, I'm not gonna lie, I kinda feel this song, too.

Todd: I can easily imagine listening to this song when I'm in a dark mood, which is more and more often these days.

Todd (VO): I'm not gonna tell you it's a bad song, but it's a terrible choice of single. It's so dreary. In fact, now that I think about it, both these singles are just really unhappy!

Clip of "Ease My Mind"

Speech: ...focus, I ain't accepting it

Give me a face pencil to draw a smile on me

Todd: This is Arrested Development, you know?

Clips of live performance of "People Everyday" and "Revolution"

Todd (VO): Positivity and dancing, celebration, life music, y'know? What the fuck happened?!

Todd: The album starts on that same weird note too, by the way. Like...

"WMFW (We Must Fight and Win) FM" played over live footage

Todd (VO): ...there's a skit of the old guy being a radio DJ.

Baba: ...thirty in the AM

This is Baba Oje speaking directly to you

He's just there to introduce the band, but it just sounds so foreboding.

Baba: Brand new sounds by Arrested Development

Todd (VO): This is not what I came for. What the hell is going on?

Video for "United Front"

The fact that a song about unity sounds so depressing is a big tip-off that Arrested Development were not a united front at all. [shot of Vibe article: "Still Thirsty"] I looked for any press they did around this time and I found this interview in Vibe. [clip of interview with...] Speech is trying to sell the ethos of positivity and all that happy horseshit and the interviewer...

Todd:  ...she's just not buying it.

Todd (VO): [closeup of quote: "Danyel Smith finds trouble in paradise."] And eventually, she starts interviewing the other members and she gets it out of them:...

Todd: No one is happy with Speech.

Todd (VO): Headliner, the main DJ, has been demoted to backup rapper after some kind of power struggle.

Video for "Tennessee"

Dionne Farris, that's the vocalist that made "Tennessee" soar like it did...

Dionne Farris: You know I need to go home

Todd (VO): ...she had some blow-up argument with Speech and quit in the middle of a tour.

Todd: It sounds miserable.

Todd (VO): No wonder this is such a downbeat record.

Todd: Except it's not.

Clip of Top of the Pops performance of "Fountain of Youth"

Speech: But yo, I gotta be hip and dip within the fountain of youth

Arrested Development: The fountain of youth

Speech: Come on

Todd (VO): I have no idea why they started on such a low note, but for the most part, the record sounds a lot like the last one. Maybe it doesn't quite "pop" the same way. It doesn't have any obvious singles. They could have used a Dionne Farris, but it's not a huge departure.

Todd: And-and there's some interesting songs on here.

Clip of Speech interview

Todd (VO): Speech had just bought a house, and it must have been on his mind 'cause he's got two songs about owning property. It's probably one too many, but it's still a topic I hadn't heard rapped about before.

Audio for "Ache'n' for Acres" dubbed over live footage

Speech: ...spent in rent ain't earning me cent

Ain't gettin' no Caddy, no Benz, no Jeep

Until I got some money for some land to keep

Nadirah: ...land to stand on, no more ache'n for the acres

One of them, "Ache'n for Acres" is obviously a reference to the forty acres every black American is still owed.

Todd: And the other one, "Mr. Landlord" is about the man keeping you down.

Audio for "Mister Landlord" dubbed over live footage

Speech: Mr. Landlord step off my yard

Todd (VO): Like, usually rap songs like that are about the cops, but...

Todd: ...Speech takes it in a different direction. I like that. [image of Rise Against Predatory Landlords march] Arguably, it's ahead of its time. But, uh, there are other parts of it that are way behind its time.

Audio for "Africa's Inside Me" dubbed over live footage

Arrested Development: Africa's inside me

Taking back her child

She's giving...

Todd (VO): The final single was "Africa's Inside Me".

Todd: Look, [sighs] I don't know about this.

Todd (VO): Arrested Development's whole thing was Afrocentrism, and that was swiftly...

Todd: ...exiting the conversation.

Clip of "United Front"

Speech: I call on the red and the black and the green

Todd (VO): I'm not gonna begin to theorize why. I feel a little out of my lane talking about this at all. I just know that by '94 you did not see a lot of people [image comes up of two people wearing...] with dashikis or the African colors and medallions or shit like that. And I've heard a couple people say it started to feel more like a Halloween costume than a real social movement.

Todd: But Arrested Development doubled down, [shot of Zingalamaduni cover, zoomed in on the title] right down to the name of the album.

Clip of Late Show with David Letterman

David: Zingalamaduni. Zingalamaduni.

Todd (VO): It's almost like they were daring you not to buy it. It's a comical name.

Todd: "Bazinga-lamaduni."

Todd (VO): And I'm sure Speech would tell Letterman, "Well you know, don't...

Todd: ...you look ignorant. That's actually Swahili. It means 'beehive of culture.'"

Eshe: And our album is called Zingalamaduni, and it means "the beehive of culture".

Todd: Okay, well...that just makes it worse!

Todd (VO): No one wants a lecture on what the title means!

Todd: It wasn't just not being gangsta. [images of...] Tribe wasn't gangsta, [...and...] the Beastie Boys were not gangsta, but Arrested Development felt anti-gangsta. [shot of article: "Can Good Guys Challenge Gangster Rap?"] You read all the praise of the first album, and so much of it is about not being Ice Cube or Ice-T.

Clip of Arrested Development accepting the Best New Artist award at the 35th Annual Grammy Awards

Todd (VO): They won those Grammys the same year as the LA riots, "Cop Killer". No one took their talk of revolution seriously after they got so much praise from the establishment while other acts were clearly very threatening to it. [clips of Ice-T - "Cop Killer"] Ice-T was rapping about killing cops, and [...and "Tennessee"] Arrested Development was rapping about playing a game of horseshoes. A game of horseshoes!

Clip of Ice-T interview on VH1's I Love the '90s

When Ice-T says he hated them, it's also because he took that whole "life music" thing as an implicit criticism that he only made death music. [clip of interview with...] Speech said over and over again the band was not anti-gangsta.

Todd: You can say that, but...

Clip of Arrested Development accepting the Best Rap Video award at the 1993 MTV VMAs

Headliner: Most of all we'd like to thank the hip-hop community. Regardless of what they're saying, they're still talented musicians.

Todd: Holy shit, the passive-aggression.

Clips from various songs and clips of the band, including "Mr. Wendal"...

Speech: To think blacks spend all that money on big colleges

Still most of y'all come out confused


Speech: Brothers and sisters keep messin' up

Another clip of Arrested Development at the 1993 MTV VMAs...

Aerle: We're really happy to get this award because it shows that to be successful nowadays you don't have to be frivolous.

..."Everyday People"...

Speech: I had to take the brother out for being rude

Act like a n***a and get stomped by an African

Clip of Speech at another awards show...

Speech: The word "n***a" is one who understands that he or she is oppressed, but wallows in that oppression.

...and another clip of "Tennessee"

Speech: I ask you, Lord, why you enlighten me

Without the enlightenment of all my folks

Todd (VO): For a group who rapped about "who are we to judge", they feel pretty judgy.

Clip of live performance of "Ease My Mind"

Speech: Well, not me, 'cause I don't truly give a care about you

They absolutely set themselves up for a really tedious discourse about who's really selling out by [clip of Ice-T - "New Jack Hustler"] living down to negative stereotypes, versus living up to unthreatening positive stereotypes.

Todd: [sighs] It's not like gangsta rap is beyond criticism. There's plenty to criticize.

Todd (VO): But the overwhelming impression was if you supported one, you were attacking the other. If you listened to Zingalamaduni, [clip of...] you had to put down the gin and juice. And if people are forced to choose between Snoop Dogg and you...

Todd: ...you lose. Every single time.

Clip of band performing on Late Show with David Letterman

Todd (VO): This all probably doomed the record before it even came out. Does any of this translate to the album being bad?

Todd: Like I said, the reviews were not terrible. Some were even very good.

Todd (VO): [shot of 4-star Rolling Stone review] Rolling Stone's was very positive. Granted, it's from future film Twitter troll [picture of..] Armond White, which is not a great sign.

Todd: And other critics were not as charitable. [shot of review from...] I found Spin magazine's take on it. Let's see. [focuses in on highlighted quote] "'Ache'n for Acres' is anachronistic family values propaganda"?

Todd: I-I don't agree with that at all.

Todd (VO): "'United Front' is a wrongheadedly-titled lament against black-on-black crime"?

Todd: That doesn't really strike me as fair.

Todd (VO): "'Warm Sentiments' is an odious anti-abortion tune"?

Todd: Well, that's...[pause] Wait, hold up, what? [shows quote again] Okay, stop everything. I need to check this out.

Audio for "Warm Sentiments" dubbed over live footage

Speech: Getting an abortion like I ain't no damn good

Like I can't raise a child the way a Nubian man should

...love, had trust

The decision should have been made by the both of us

But you got an abortion

Todd: [mouth agape] Well, I don't know what I expected.

Speech: Feel cheated, used, abused...

Todd (VO): Okay, anti-abortion is not really an accurate description. It's not like a political statement, it's just a personal story. His girlfriend had an abortion. He's got feelings about it.

Todd: And he's gonna explain those feelings...at length.

Speech: Understand you have your choice

But I have to have my voice

Todd cringes

Todd (VO): They talked a lot about being respectful to women, not being sexist like the gangstas, but this is somehow worse. Preaching to the world is one thing, but this is framed like him trying to have a personal conversation...

Speech: I know it's your body but it's our baby, so why dismiss

And it drives me crazy, the way you played me

As if...

I have no idea how I'd feel in this situation...

Todd: ...but I do know how it feels to have to listen to a big, long tirade about someone's feelings when they clearly don't care about yours...

Todd (VO): ...so I can only relate to the girlfriend here. It feels like you're right there trapped in the living room being smothered by drama and...

Todd groans in agony

Speech: Keep you and hold you

After I scold you I hope I can mold you


Todd (VO): What the hell was he thinking?! Why even go up and piss on the third rail that is abortion if you're not gonna be careful about it?!

Todd: Would you want to raise a child with this man?!

Todd (VO): It's like this song is backing up every joke you've ever heard about political activists making shitty boyfriends. People already had suspicions of the group as a bunch of self-important, moralizing snobs, and this song can only confirm it.

Todd: The shitty part about being a "political" artist is that...

Todd (VO): ...people come down on you super hard the second you rub them the wrong way. I don't want to be overly negative like that but...

Todd: ...like, this is a song that really changes the way you see an artist.

Clip of band performing on Late Show with David Letterman

Todd (VO): This album may not be a departure from the first one. The only major difference might be that the hooks are not quite as good, but it makes the flaws become obvious a lot quicker. It took...

Todd: ...me years to realize I didn't like "Mr. Wendal", but Zingalamaduni, after just a few listens, like...I had to notice that even the first song was telling me to watch my weight?

Audio for "United Minds" dubbed over live footage

Speech: Try to eat healthy to avoid the cancer

Conscious of your health, conscious of your soul

Instead of being so damn conscious of your wealth

Todd: Okay thanks, Mom. Or I noticed rhymes that didn't feel right.

Audio for "Pride" dubbed over live footage

Speech: My skin can never be a curse, no it can't

I wear it like a prom tuxedo, and I...

Todd: You return a prom tuxedo. You sure you wanna compare your racial identity to something you rent for a hundred bucks to wear once?

Todd (VO): It doesn't feel righteous or empowering, it feels browbeating.

Todd: Here's Public Enemy...

Clip of Public Enemy - "Fight the Power"

Public Enemy: Fight the power

We've got to fight the powers that be

Todd: ...versus Arrested Development's rebel song, "Shell".

Audio for "Shell" dubbed over live footage

Arrested Development: Just a shell until you decide to rebel

Just a shell until you decide to rebel

Todd: You hear the difference, right? "I'm just a shell"? Bite me!

Todd (VO): But most of all, it just feels really one-note. Unlike your Kendrick, or your Lupe, or even Common, they just...really lack the ability to get off the soapbox every now and then.

Todd: So despite some really good beats and decent ideas, you just feel tired after a while.

Clip of "United Front"

Nadirah: United we stand

Todd (VO): What with all the tension and the album's failure, [shots of articles: "Breaking Up (Ain't So) Hard to Do"...] the band naturally broke up. [..."Zingalamaduni"...] Entertainment Weekly was positive on the record when it came out, and [...and "Summer's Winners and Losers"] just a few weeks later they wrote the band off as "losers" and said they could only make a comeback if they "joined a gang."

Todd: Yeesh.

Todd (VO): The Village Voice summed up the public opinion on them: [article quote appears over "United Front" clip] "Their short-term commercial success was a long-term musical fraud. Limp, sententious rap feel-goodism quickly forgotten once it failed to drive the scary stuff away."

Todd: And that's pretty much where the opinion stands today.

Video for "Ease My Mind"

Todd (VO): Speech put out some solo records. He eventually reformed Arrested Development without most of their original lineup, and they're still out there performing now. Personally, I'm not as far down on them as their harshest critics. I think they made a lot of good, interesting stuff on both those albums.

Todd: But they blew a lot of their potential with so many missteps.

Todd (VO): Inter-band squabbling, an annoying judgy tone, a disconnect between their message and their posturing.

Todd: And when they look back at how they handled themselves back in the '90s, I suspect they only have one thing to say.

Clip from Arrested Development

Gob Bluth (Will Arnett): I've made a huge mistake.

Todd: [shrugs] Peace.

Gets up and leaves

Video for "Ease My Mind" ends

Ending Music: Todd plays "Ease My Mind" on piano


"Zingalamaduni" is owned by Chrysalis Records

This video is owned by me


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