3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of… is the debut album by American hip hop group Arrested Development, released on March 24, 1992. The album’s chart success was the beginning of the popularization of Southern hip hop. 3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of… stood in stark contrast to the gangsta rap that ruled the hip hop charts in 1992 (such as Dr. Dre’s The Chronic), in its focus on spirituality, peace and love. The album’s title refers to the length of time it took Arrested Development to get a record contract.
The album is also included in Robert Dimery’s book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
The song “Tennessee” is part of The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list.
3 Years, 5 Months and 2 Days in the Life Of… was released to widespread critical acclaim and was later voted as the best album of the year in The Village Voice’s Pazz & Jop critics’ poll. Entertainment Weekly’s James Bernard praised it as a “fresh-sounding debut album” and referred to Arrested Development as “the anti-gangsta” and “perhaps rap’s most self-reflective act.” Greg Kot of the Chicago Tribune wrote that the group “displays unusual worldliness, wisdom and awareness on its debut, immediately establishing itself as a major new voice in hip-hop”, noting Speech’s social themes and rejection of “macho boasting and gangster posing”. In a negative assessment, Robert Christgau of The Village Voice assigned the album a “dud” rating and wrote that the album was “not horrible by any means” but “too often the beats shambled and the raps meandered”, though he would later revise his rating to single out “Tennessee” as a “choice cut”.
Retrospectively, Steve Huey of AllMusic wrote that the rise of gangsta rap abruptly put an end to what seemed to be a “shining new era in alternative rap” heralded by 3 Years and that the album, while not “quite as revolutionary as it first seemed”, was nonetheless “a fine record that often crosses the line into excellence”, further crediting it as “a major influence on a new breed of alternative Southern hip-hop, including Goodie Mob, Outkast, and Nappy Roots”.
The Wire named the album its record of the year, the first time the magazine had expanded its year-end critics’ poll to include albums in non-jazz genres. The album was included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.