My personal take on Yes Always.
Yes Always is an anthem. It’s built to be played loud when you need inspiration to get through difficult times. It’s a reminder that you are more resiliant than you think, you just need to dig in to your past experience. Configa sets the scene with the sample on the intro, you know this is not going to just be some fluff of a song.
Musically Configa has crafted an uplifting boom bap back drop to Speech’s lyrics. Even before Speech begins his first verse, the scene is set in sound. Reflections of old school Arrested Development in Speech’s harmony, their even feels like a nod to ATCQ in Speech’s “grunts” (with a nod to Native Tongues in the lyrics later). Before the song even gets going it is enticing the listener to turn it up loud.
Then Speech hits us with the songs theme, his vocal harmonisation perfectly balanced with Configa’s sample vocal stabs.
I don’t know how this works. But a legend from Milwaukee connected with a Phd from Newcastle (in the words of LL “Two Different Worlds”) and they are creating music that embraces and celebrates the whole of HipHop culture.
Opening verse, Speech has never been a slacker on the mic and at 53 years old he approaches it like a blacksmith approaches Damascus steel. You know it’s going to go through some trauma to produce a thing of beauty. I won’t lie, I had to hit Google to get some of the references in the lyrics (even the Black Rob nod). In fact Speech sums the lyrical side of this song best:
Conscious Hip Hop maybe not for tourist
Speech, Yes Always
But that is the beauty of this song. It works for all levels of attention. Cursory level, you’re getting an uplifting head nodder. Deeper level, there is some listening and understanding to be done. I guarantee the more you listen to this the more you’ll get out of it. I’m still trying to work out the Boxter Porsche line – a nod to a mid-life crisis, or Speech saying he earned his rewards the hard way?
Arrested Development have always been very self aware of where they sit within Hip Hop – never the trend, always off kilter. Thats why this line resonated:
Opposite of Muslim, BRING HOME THE BACONSpeech, Yes Always
Thats a hard line, in stark contrast to so much of Hip Hop from the era AD came up in. It took me right back to those times. Weird how certain lyrics hit that way.
Dee-1 closes the song perfectly. I especially liked his lines about looking to the youth for inspiration and energy needed when times are hard. That hit me personally, as I look at my kids and learn from them how to navigate an ever changing world.