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The Vagabond

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Album Review

A frustrating release that pays off despite its messy, thrown-together compiling, Speech's Vagabond would be his most necessary solo album if it were only better groomed. Comprised mostly of tracks from his overlooked Down South Produckshuns and Peechy albums while adding some collaborations along with a couple new tracks, Vagabond puts its best foot forward with "Braided Hair," Speech's poignant and powerful collaboration with Neneh Cherry and 1 Giant Leap. Like much of Vagabond, the track recalls Arrested Development at their dreamiest and most intoxicating, but there's plenty of the pop and soul Speech came to master after putting his former group on hold. The sparse "Love" would have fit nicely on Prince's For You while "Shine" and "Gone Away" are both heartfelt, soulful numbers that fall somewhere between the Isley Brothers and the best Lenny Kravitz. Speech's own missteps are his underwhelming and previously unreleased cover of "Across the Universe" and the pleasant but pointless instrumental "Catch the Fire," but Vagabond's real problem is its lack of flow, with like tracks sitting next to each other and the stale aftertaste of old material being passed off as new with no explanation. Granted, the tracks from Down South Produckshuns and Peechy are all worthy of another listen and should be heard by anyone who appreciates edgy but responsible, poignant hip-hop. Vagabond is nearly filled with it, but requires too much rearranging and editing by the listener to be considered a classic.


Born: October 25, 1968 in Milwaukee, WI

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '90s

Speech rose to success in the early '90s as the leader of the groundbreaking alternative rap group Arrested Development. Born Todd Thomas in Milwaukee, WI, on October 25, 1968, he was raised primarily in Ripley, TN, before relocating to Georgia in 1987 to attend the Art Institute of Atlanta. There he met fellow student Tim Barnwell, and together they laid the foundations for Arrested Development's 1988 formation; adopting the stage name Speech, Thomas' lyrics reflected a positive, socially conscious,...
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The Vagabond, Speech
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