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Photo Essay: Arrested Development comes home for Bucks halftime show

Fareedah Aleem
Speech
Tasha LaRae
The two-time Grammy Award-winning hip-hop group, Arrested Development, performed at the Bucks halftime show during the regular season home finale against the Charlotte Hornets, on April 10 at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.

The special “Fan Appreciation Night” mini-concert was just part of the unique community outreach that members of Arrested Development and the Bucks were involved with that day. The group visited the Express Yourself Milwaukee studio to host a music workshop and mentor local youth. For co-founder and lead vocalist Todd ‘Speech’ Thomas, who grew up in Milwaukee, it was a chance to return home and help others.

“Some of the people we met this morning, when we were at Express Yourself, we are now connected with them. We’re going to connect them with people that we know that can truly help to transform their lives,” said Speech. “That’s what Arrested Development is about, what we’ve been about since the very beginning. And that’s what I’m personally about, that’s what brings me life. It brings me excitement to see those things happen.”

Arrested Development (AD) has been a trailblazer within hip-hop since 1991. Their songs have changed the narrative of popular culture, while spreading a unique mixture of consciousness and joy around the globe through their music. The group has used their music awards, media spotlight, and artistic talent to shine a spotlight on social issues that do not get enough public notice. Their hit song “Mr. Wendal“ brought much needed attention to the plight of the homeless, and half of the royalties from the single go to fund the National Coalition of the Homeless.

Arrested Development members, who performed during the last game of regular season play, were Speech (Vocalist, Producer, Co-Founder), Fareedah Aleem (Dancer, Singer), and Tasha LaRae (Singer). These images were taken around their halftime show and exclusive interview session with the Milwaukee Independent.

“Music has frequency. It can tap into our most primal condition, our most elevated state of mind. It’s a way to allow yourself to move through the world, this effortless floating through your emotions. If you’re feeling injured, you can connect with other people without words. It allows you to have something in common with somebody on the other side of the world, and feel it not just on the surface but somewhere deep inside. Frequency does something to you physically, which is why dance is so monumental to me. I get to physically represent what that frequency in the music is making me feel. That’s amazing, and allowing that happens whether you think it looks right or not. That’s one of the reasons I like dance so much, because it doesn’t matter what it looks like to someone else. It’s about how it feels to you, and it just manifests itself in this beautiful way.” – Fareedah Aleem
“Music speaks in every tongue, at the same time. Whether it be through the lyrics that I’m spitting, or whether it be through the beats, the horn arrangements, the melodies, all of that is speaking at the same time which is cool. Whereas in a conversation, if you in are front of someone you might have body language and what they’re saying, and the way they’re saying it. But with music, you got all of that, plus you have the way that the music itself sounds, the way that the drums make you feel. You got all of these emotions that are able to communicate at once, and that’s what I think makes music so powerful. A lot of the lyrics that I’ve written over the past 30 years have been talking about the misuse or the proper use of music, and how it affects the world. So at times I have to be real hard on Rhymers if they’re not understanding the power that we wield, and the perfect opportunity to wield it for good at a time when we really need that. So I’ve always felt like music is extremely powerful. For me, hip-hop music is truly a tool from God to help lift up the oppressed throughout the world. It’s a tool to help educate the world, and lead the world towards a more redemptive place.” – Speech

“Music, for me, is a way to express my true feelings. Whether they’re happy, or sad, or whatever, it allows me to be myself. It allows me to discover myself. It also allows me to show someone who I am just. Music is definitely a great communication tool for me, and it allows me to reach other people on levels that just having a regular conversation might not allow me to do. A perfect example, when we go overseas and there’s someone in the audience that’s battling an issue with her self-image. She might be overweight, and she speaks another language that I don’t speak. But I could still sing, and I could perform, and still communicate with her and reach her. Music steps in where words fail.” – Tasha LaRae

About The Author

Lee Matz

Former Creative Director and Photojournalist for the Milwaukee Business Journal, Lee brings his years of international experience as a foreign correspondent in Asia and Europe. His list of awards include top honors from the Milwaukee Press Club. Lee proudly uses MCTS as the exclusive mode of transportation for covering all his news reports.

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