My attempt to blog all of the entries from the book 1001 Albums to Hear Before You Die
I’ve decided that if I need a break from going in the order of the book (chronological), I will open to a random album. That is the case here.
Brief Background: “3 Years…” was recorded in 1991 and released in early 1992. The title refers to the length of time it took Arrested Development to get a recording contract. The album is in contrast to much of the “Gansta Rap” that was being released during that time. Lyrical themes focus on spirituality, love, revolution and aligns with the Afrocentric movement that was prevalent at the time of the albums release. Hit singles for the album include “Mr. Wendal”, “People Everyday” and “Tennessee”.
What I liked: I’ve always liked Speech’s rap style and he really comes through on “Mr. Wendal” (a song I’ve always loved), “Man’s Final Frontier” and “Fishin’ 4 Religion”. The album may just slightly cross the line from promoting a message to being too preachy, but for the most part the group does well in keeping this in check.
What I Didn’t Like: I really thought my may concern with this album was going to be just a general frustration with the level of “preachiness” in it. In fact, I was fine with that and my concern with the actual message in some of the songs.
In “People Everyday”, Speech tells a story about he and a lady friend who are being harassed by a couple of drunk, gangsta types, that probably have guns. He tries to ignore, and when they start grabbing at the girl Speech adds…
“but he wouldn’t stop and I ain’t Ice Cube
but I had to take the brother out for being rude
and like I said before I was mad by then
It took three or four cops to pull me off of him”
When the final chorus is done, he says:
“The moral of the story is
You better look very hard on who you step into
As you might get killed or shot and it’s not worth
Africans need to be loving each other and you know”
I think his moral is B.S. though, what he’s really saying is that he isn’t quick to fight, but if he needs to, he will and when he does he can hold his own and kick some ass, so don’t mess with him. So the real moral is sometimes you have to do what you have to do, which is a realistic moral for the story. It just really bothered me that he added the last part, as a way to move to some moral high ground.
Another exception I take is in the song “Give A Man A Fish” with the lyrics:
“Got to get political
Political I gotta get
Grown but can’t hold my own
So this government needs to be overthrown
Brothers with the AKs and the 9 MMs
need to learn how to correctly shoot’em
Save those rounds for a revolution
Poor whites and blacks bumrushing the system”
The blatant avocation of violence against the non-poor, which is the middle class and the extremely wealthy seems really foul to me. For a group that is purported to push “love” they have really gone off base here. To me the lyrics say that anybody who has any wealth should be the aim of a violent revolution. Also, according to Speech’s Wikipedia page, “Speech toured with US Vice President Al Gore and First Lady Hillary Clinton in the South during the 1996 United States Presidential election.” Aren’t these people the same one’s he’s advocating a revolution against a couple years earlier?
My Overall Thoughts: I was looking forward to hearing this album and learning more about the early 1990’s Afrocentric movement from a view different from the 12 year old I was when the album came out. And while I enjoyed the music and I like Speech’s style, the lyrics leave me with a bad taste in my mouth. I just can’t take the “love your fellow man” idea seriously when he contradicts it in such a blatant manner. In the end that ruined the credibility for me as far as any movement is concerned.
Do I agree or disagree with the writers as to this being an album you must listen to? I disagree with this album being here. To be a great piece of work they lyrics and the music need to come together and make that a reality. While the music may be there, the latter is not.
Rating (Out of 5): 2
Amazon Review (Out of 5):4.5
Is this my first time hearing this album? Yes (19/21)