Music News

Speech

Not long ago, Todd Thomas, aka Speech, seemed bound for long-lasting super-fame, not a career spent largely in the commercial underground. During the late '80s, he co-founded Arrested Development, whose 1992 bow, 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life of..., spawned "Tennessee," a smash that even avowed rap haters liked. The album eventually earned Speech and company the 1993 Best New Artist Grammy -- the first bauble in this category awarded to a hip-hop combo. After that, however, Development slowed, and Speech's solo career, which got under way during the mid-'90s, never regained the band's earlier pace. Even so, Speech remains an intriguing talent, as demonstrated by last year's The Vagabond, a platter on the Bluhammock imprint that supplements new tracks with ditties from little-heard recordings issued a few years back. "Braided Hair," in particular, sounds every bit as memorable as his early work. Granted, Thomas, who's traveling with Tre Hardson, Tracey Amos, Modill and Longshot, isn't being heard by as many people as he once was. But he hasn't lost the power of Speech.
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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts