Wednesday 16 February 2022

Album Review: For The FKN Love by Arrested Development


For The FKN Love


Arrested Development


Back in September of 2020 Arrested Development released their first album which featured production from UK Super Producer Configa, ‘Don’t Fight Your Demons’. That album was a huge testament to the longevity of the group and was packed with knowledge and politically charged statements, all fused together with solid hip-hop beats that would equally appeal to old and new heads alike.

When I originally reviewed that album there was a little voice inside me that mused over what they could do next, and could any future project stand up to the power and energy of that album? Then, in December of last year, Arrested Development and Configa were back again, dropping ‘For The FKN Love’, and when the album dropped in my inbox, courtesy of Configa, I was extremely excited, to say the least.

At the time there was actually no pressure for me to review the album. However, the more I listened to the album the more it spoke to me, through a haze of personal fog. The more it spoke the more I decided that, as soon as the time was right, I would make this my first written piece of 2022 and here we are so, let me take you through the album and give you my thoughts and feelings in a way that might be a little different than usual…

The album kicks off in a big way with some huge orchestral horns and a no nonsense boombap beat which immediately has your pulse racing and your heart pounding. Configa’s production brings a powerful yet uplifting vibe which is crucial right at the start. ‘Yes Always’ has Speech and Dee-1 bringing a message that speaks to the deepest parts of your being. We all have times that challenge us and make us question if we can ever continue but, when those times weigh upon us, we just stand a little taller and rise up one more time, essentially you have the strength in you to do that and you CAN do it. This was a message, at the time, that I needed to hear and was a reminder to me that I could do it, it might take time to rise up but, I would do it and here I am today and if I can do it, you can do it too. There is strength in those words, you can do it, Yes Always you can. The uplifting vibe continues with Configa’s inspired deep funk sound of strings, bass and big drums perfectly matching with the message of ‘Building From The Bottom’. Speech, 1 Love and 4-IZE take you on an inspiring journey as they detail what it is to build something from scratch. Bringing you all the challenges, the drive, the inspirations, and those ultimate rewards as you work on your craft, growing something amazing from the smallest of seeds.

‘Never Had Your Back’ has a dualistic approach to getting its message across. Here Configa provides an uplifting mix of piano, drums, and cuts as a backdrop for Speech and Ke’andra to bring us a deep message on the treatment of black women by the patriarchal American society. It’s time for this degrading portrayal of how black women should be or how they should act to change, and that certainly means telling it how it is to make people listen, as displayed on this banger. The ultimate message here is to give them true strength and true power by showing them in their true light that shines from the inside out. They are not an object and should not be viewed as such. ‘Swing Um’ is a track that has club anthem written all over it. Creating a homage to one of the ultimate posse cuts, ‘The Symphony’, is HUGE and requires a big line up and here AD’s Speech, Masta Ace, Dell-P and Fatman Scoop step up. Configa drops a scintillating club vibe with keyboards, drums, and cuts while Fatman Scoop whips the crowd up and has everyone in a bouncing frenzy, which is just what you need for Speech, Masta Ace and Dell-P to drop the kinda rhymes that gets the crowds hearts pounding, fists pumping and jumping, while still keeping the wise words flowing with ease that engage the mind as much as the body. Turn the volume up on this one!

It’s time to chill things out a bit but, that does not mean that AD will let your heads come out of the clouds. Configa’s harmonious drums, strings, and piano notes are the key to being a little more laid back as Speech is joined by Monie Love and Tony Momrelle, with a soulful chorus, on ‘Thank You’. This one speaks to us all, by giving us the inspiration to remember and to celebrate all of those who have inspired us or been a key part of our life’s journey. We all have many people to thank in some way and whatever way you choose to thank them, let it be from the heart. Time to switch the energy levels back up on ‘Bout It’ with a funk fuelled vibe of horns, drums, guitar, and cuts. In fact, what Configa has captured on this beat really seems to have been inspired by Prince, it really has the feel for being like a homage to the purple one. Speech is joined by MRK-SX, Jahah and guitarist Alex Jones to deliver words of wisdom that celebrate the female form, it’s true beauty and how all aspects of the feminine energy touch us on every level. ‘UNI (TY)’ has a more simplistic feel to the beat with just piano, drums and vocals creating the backdrop, courtesy of Clint Taylor. This opens up the track to let the vocals of Speech resonate. Putting more emphasis on the lyrics works so well here as the message is deep, looking at what divides us as people and the ways in which we choose to see differences in each other. What we truly need is to see past these apparent differences and understand that all we truly need is ‘U n I and UNITY’. From that thought provoking moment it’s time to get your head nodding and body moving, in a laid-back way, to the strings, keyboards and drums of ‘I Don’t Care’, perfectly produced by Configa. Here Speech details what it is to be who he truly is. Many may constantly scrutinise his life and all he is doing but, the truth is he is just doing his best to live his life. His message in this track is simple and one that we can all heed - no matter what others may think of you and how they might choose to see you, all you need to be is YOU and to be the grandest expression of who you truly are. Don’t concern yourself with what others might think as that that is their stuff, you are you so, be you.

‘Do It Up’ is the first of two tracks from Speech produced by Cris Acosta and another track that has a dual aspect to it. The beat has this laid-back guitar vibe that seems in almost full contrast to the drums, that have this kind of industrial feel to them. This dualistic nature is mirrored in the lyrics which look at both the dark and light times we all experience in our lives. We may often slip in cark periods in our lives but, the light is always there for us to reach out to. There are many different ways we can elevate ourselves to reach for the light and music is one of those ways, a catalyst to bring forth the light in our lives. ‘Where Lions Roam’ is the second track from Speech and Cris Acosta. The syths, electronic sounds and sparce beat give this a kind of focused feel, like you are on one path, going one way and any deviation from that path and who you are is an alien concept. The world can be a dangerous place and as we grow, we are taught that we have to be a certain way and follow a certain path. We are conditioned to be and act a certain way from birth. It takes courage to look beyond the social conditioning and to change who we have been taught to be but, in taking that step, into the place where lions roam, we can exhibit our inner lion and we can truly be free to be ourselves.

The experience of the small-town boy moving to the big city is the setting for ‘We Are Not In Kansas’. Configa’s pounding drums and keyboards take Arrested Development to the streets as Speech and Freddie Foxx look at situations of where you’re from and where you’re at, examining the differences and how it affects you in moving from a small quiet town to the hustle, stresses, and strains of life in the city. As I first listened to ‘Be Refreshed’, the mix of strings, drums, keyboards, and etheric vocal samples from Configa seemed to have an almost modern trap vibe but, the more I listened the less apparent that became, my head was definitely nodding all the same. The lyrics from Speech, 1 Love and Twan Mack have this definite feel of looking at what is going on in America and, to a point, the world. There is so much that is affecting people right now and what can be done to separate them from the pain. It’s a song about taking a step back to relax and refresh before taking time to understand differing viewpoints and situations, then taking time to consider the best way forward… That feeling of how best to approach certain situations follows us into ‘Grandma’s Southern Ways’. The horns, harmonica, piano, and drums all combine to bring a huge upbeat vibe with an abundance of pure energy, courtesy of Configa. Speech, G-Love and Lish Speaks focus on the many challenges that life brings and how we choose to overcome them. So many times, when we are faced with a difficult situation, we will look to those tried and tested methods, that have been handed down to us, as the simplest way to get through and overcome whatever obstacle lies in front of us. The abundance of energy we just had is the perfect springboard for Speech and Twisted Royalty on ‘We Feeling It All’. The drums, percussion, xylophone, and choral vocals, produced by Speech himself, bring us a definite feel-good vibe where the energy hits in short bursts. This one speaks on many levels but, the ultimate message here is deep and acknowledges that we have all been through some tough times. We have faced challenges in all aspects of our lives, seen people and loved ones pass from this life but, we are still here. We carry on doing what we do, feeling every ounce of emotion and do our very best to channel it in the most positive ways, as we look to a brighter future.

After considering all that, what you need is something to give you a glimpse of that brighter future. What you get is Configa dropping a straight up boombap beat full of horns, drums, guitar, and cuts that has you seriously amped up while touching you on a certain level too. ‘Vibe’ was released as a single and sees Speech joined by the legendary Big Daddy Kane, Cleveland P Jones, and Tasha LaRae for some high-energy, feel-good hip-hop. ‘Vibe’ is all about that energy that is inside us all, that spark that will never fail to bring out all those positive feelings within us. Sometimes we might question if that spark really does exist or we might feel we have lost it for good but, one listen to this track and you cannot fail to reach inside and light that spark… As we move into the penultimate track of the album, we find a deep vibe once more but, one that is most certainly tinged with a silver lining. The deep musical aspect comes from Configa’s mix of horns, guitar, drums, and xylophone notes. That musical backdrop fits perfectly as Speech and KXNG Crooked focus on the many experiences people have in their drive to push forward in life and to make something of themselves and to leave a legacy. You might not know the story behind the faces, just as they may not know your story but, have faith in each other, support and encourage each other in reaching your goals, and tell them ‘I Want U To Make It’. Supporting each other means you can all ‘Have Your Moment’ and that is exactly what Speech, Configa, The Sugarhill Gang and 1 Love are here to tell you. The beat is big and one to bounce to, full of guitars, drums and cuts it lifts you up and holds you there. The lyrics swirl around your mind with an energy that encourages you to raise yourself up and have your own moment in the spotlight. Not everyone will know you, they might not even like you but, your moment is just that, it’s yours and it’s gonna feel damn good. So, have faith in your ability and in who you truly are, the more you do that, the more others will see it and the brighter you moment will be.


So, what can I say about the album overall? What is plainly obvious is that Arrested Development have not reached a level with ‘Don’t Fight Your Demons’ and then plateaued, they have in fact continued to step it up and ‘For The FKN Love’ shows that there is no need for the sky to be the limit, you can keep pushing into the atmosphere and beyond. One thing that has struck me is the level of knowledge and entertainment value this album has. I would go for as say that Arrested Development has a definite sense of Edutainment. By edutainment I mean that this album can be looked on as being both educational and entertaining.

Its educational value comes from the depth of knowledge, personal experience and the deep level of social/political narrative that Speech and the guest artists use to focus on things such as the struggles of the black community, the treatment of black women and even mental health. There is something to be learned by everyone here. There is so much here, lyrically, that is delivered with knowledge, presence of mind and without compromise, producing music that is full of feeling and character that speaks so deeply to the listener at times.

The entertainment value musically really goes without saying. But, in working with Configa, it has just brought that extra dimension to what Arrested Development do. Configa brings that solid boombap hip-hop sound whilst also being able to strikingly switch between vibes and moods as the nature of the lyrics require. When the beat is boombap it is the perfect stage for Speech to deliver straight up hip-hop vibes to get the listener or the whole club bouncing. There is no doubt in my mind that ‘For The FKN Love’ is going to easily stand the test of time.

Everything that has gone into this album from Arrested Development, Configa and the guest artists is the perfect sound to help give you that sense of energy and drive you need to feel the love and reach for that light you want in your future. In fact, it helps you not just reach for the light but, to also grip it with both hands and pull it towards you. I really felt that this album was conscious hip-hop on another level. You could feel the emotion at times, the strength of the energy that went into every word, every line, and every beat. In reflecting on the album as I wrote my notes for the review, I could feel how deeply the album had touched me at times and the level of emotions it raised.

There is simply no better way of stepping into a positive and free future than by listening to ‘For The FKN Love’ by Arrested Development.

The Album is out now, Link Below.

Huge thanks to Configa for sending me the album.

I’m Outta Here, Steve


Get The Album from Bandcamp Here:

Arrested Development Official Website:

Configa on Bandcamp: