Todd “Speech” Thomas was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, October 1968. He attended Clark Atlanta University and the Art Institute of Atlanta. Speech burst on the scene in 1992 like a cultural storm trooper. As the musical, political and conceptual force behind the hip-hop group, Arrested Development, he set the tone for their brand of conscious reality. Winning two Grammy awards, two MTV awards, and NAACP award, the multi-platinum group shook up play lists everywhere, jumping genres and becoming as popular on top twenty “pop” stations as on “urban-underground” radio. In addition to airplay, Arrested Development became just as well known for their live shows, which they appropriately termed as “celebrations”. These celebrations became an integral part of such major events as WOMAD, Lollapalooza, and Woodstock ’94. Speech has continued to grow on several fronts — politically, spiritually, socially, musically and emotionally.
Throughout his career, Speech has had an ongoing interest in helping to shape the views and character of the youth. He has toured colleges throughout the United States, delivering lectures on topics such as Black history to contemporary issues in music and culture.
In addition to touring and releasing his own albums, Speech has performed on several soundtracks including: Malcolm X, Boomerang, Bebe Kids, Warriors of Virtue, Michael Jordan to the Max (An IMAX production), and Whipped. He also had the pleasure of composing the music score for Follow Me Home with Cyril Neville and Roy Finch and appeared on screen in the documentary Rhyme and Reason and again on One Giant Leap, a world music documentary in 2002.
In May 2003, Speech joined A.D. for an extensive U.S. reunited celebration tour to re-introduce the new hip-hop generation to their life music sound. In 2004/2005 Speech led A.D. throughout Europe, Australia, Japan, and the U.S. to sold out clubs and festivals for the “Among the Trees” celebration tour, with great success. Speech’s most recent solo project entitled Love, Life, Music (Toshiba/EMI) is a celebration of 10 years as a solo artist. The album consists of hits from his 5 previous solo albums, as well as a cover of the Beatles’ Across the Universe.
Speech is happily married to Yolanda Thomas and has a son Jahi, and daughter, Zoe. Speech is dedicated to charitable contributions, continued musical exploration, and a political influence on the popular culture of today. He also enjoys photography, creative writing and has exhibited some of his photos at the Nexxus Gallery in Atlanta.