THEHIPHOPDIVA SPOKE WITH ESHE FROM ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT AND IT WAS QUITE A CONVERSATION. WE DISCUSSED THE PURPOSE OF THE GROUP, THE DECLINE OF THE CONCSIOUS EMCEE, AND THE ARTISTS SHE LOVES. YOU’LL FIND AN EVOLVED WOMAN WHO STANDS STRONG AND IS TRULY AN INSPIRATION TO US ALL.
HHD: The group was formed in the late 80’s to counter the gangsta rap music at the time. I kind of see today that your music is doing the same thing yet the music scene has changed. It’s not really gangsta music anymore. It’s more of the flashy, blingy music or the hip-pop music. How do you view the current state of hip hop?
ESHE: First and foremost I would like to say that when Arrested Development performed in the 80’s we were just wanting to do good music. We were just being true to ourselves. It just needs balance. In the music scene it’s so much of this and none of that. There’s so many great artists that you never hear about. It’s so funny because people are like we’re glad you’re back. We’ve been performing since 2000. A lot of people just didn’t know.
HHD: You make what I would call purposeful music. I’ve read that your new album is the return of people’s music. Can you expound on that and give us your idea of what people’s music is?
ESHE: We really try to tackle the issues of life in every aspect – the good, the struggles, the victories. It’s something that everybody can relate to. If you can’t relate to this song you can relate to that song. It’s music for everybody, all ages from a little bitty baby, a toddler all the way up to an elder. It’s music that you can not be ashamed to play around your elders or your children. As a family you can listen to it and grow from it.
HHD: You’ve been touring overseas and releasing music internationally. How does it feel to be back home and touring in the U.S.?
ESHE: You always want to be loved at home. We haven’t been touring in the U.S. heavily for some years. We’ve done some shows here. It feels really good. Truthfully it’s amazing because research was done on who actually researches us and the United States was number one. By us not being in the forefront of music for lots of years that was a blessing to see that people still want to hear us. We did the Tom Joyner cruise and Essence Festival and people were just embracing us and that’s always positive to feel the love. We’re excited. I love traveling all around the world and seeing different people and cultures but we need to be here. People in America need to hear our music.
HHD: Are there any artists that you look at today and like what they are doing or what they represent?
ESHE: I love Janelle Monae. I think she is amazing and fly. I like the Dixie Chicks. I love Anthony Hamilton, he’s a great singer. I like Donny Hathaway.
HHD: Over the years the group has changed members yet your original purpose and what you set out to do still comeS out through your music. What do you attribute that to?
ESHE: Right now as we speak we have four original members and four new members. I think I attribute it to us staying true to ourselves. Everybody stays in their pocket and they do their job.
HHD: Last week I read an article that talked about the decline of the conscious emcee and hearing a socially conscious message in the music. In my opinion the conscious emcee still exists. In the 90’s it was very popular and you would hear that type of music on the radio and when you went out to parties. But now it’s pretty much on the underground scene. Why do you think that transition took place?
ESHE: In America as a people as a nation I think we tend to go with trends a lot. We’re taught this is in this is out. I have a Blackberry, now it’s the iPhone, then it’s going to be something else. Every year there’s a new artist that’s the it artist of the year. It’s about advertising and marketing and that’s how we’ve been conditioned in America. If you go all around the world it’s totally different. People equate seeing you on tv to success. I tell people all the time that’s not true. You’d be surprised by the artists that tour heavily.
HHD: Your live performances are like none other. You refer to them as celebrations. Are there any rituals or traditions that you do before you go on stage to prepare?
ESHE: We stretch, we do vocal warm ups, and we pray. Before we go on stage we tell everybody to have a good show.
HHD: Your new album Strong is out now. Is there anything else we should be looking out for from the group?
ESHE: Stay plugged in to our website. We have three videos on YouTube right now. We’re going to Australia in December and January and bringing in the new year over there.
HHD: What is your definition of a hip hop diva?
ESHE: A hip hop diva is someone that is keeping it real, true to self and the culture that hip hop was founded on. Hip hop in the beginning was about uplifting people. It was something different, something radical and just opening people’s eyes. We as women we have the power to open people’s minds. We are mothers, sisters, we’re friends, we’re cousins, we’re mentors. A diva stands strong.
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