Enter the anti-gangsta. Arrested Development, an Atlanta hip-hop outfit led by rapper/producer Speech, has released 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life of…, a fresh-sounding debut album. a fresh-sounding debut album. The band’s beats actually sound joyful: They prance and dance in the midrange rather than stomp in the angry low end. Bits of harmonica jump in and out with no discernible pattern, and lightly strummed guitars appear here and there. Declaring that ”man’s final frontier is the soul,” Arrested Development is perhaps rap’s most self-reflective act. Many lyrics, like those of the hit single ”Tennessee,” resonate like Speech’s most private thoughts, betraying his desperate moments. He can be explicitly political (”Poor whites and blacks/ Bumrushing the system”) while also sounding approachable, warm, and, well, nice. Only a rapper far from the mean streets of New York and L.A. could take time out to urge, ”Dig your hands in the dirt/Children, play with earth.” A+
3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of...