G.O.A.T.: TENNESSEE by Arrested Development (1992)

Arrested Development had a few other minor hits, but really they were part of the one-hit-wonder movement embracing the Native Tongue movement in the early 1990s.  Unlike predecessor like Jungle Brothers and Tribe Called Quest, AD injected a southern feel into the laid back, slightly academic style of rap—and created one of the catchiest songs of the decade.  The song felt a lot like a nonstop musical jump.  It bounced along, constantly merry, even while the lyrics spoke of faith in an America known for entrenched racism and lynchings.

The hook (and the last line of the song) is driven by a Prince sample (“to Tennessee”–taken from his Alphabet Street single), and it wasn’t cleared in advance.  This enabled Prince to wait until it became a huge hit and then sue—netting 100 Gs for the privilege.

Further listening: Fishing for Religion and Mr. Wendal were the other two singles from the band’s debut album, 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life Of…  It’s a solid record—worth ten bucks on iTunes.

Covers: As you can imagine, there aren’t many. It’s a song that relies heavily on a sample from The Purple Litigious One. But the AV Club managed to get The Weeks to do it…

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