Pin It

Digable Planets reunite 

The Planets bring high quality revivalism with jazz roots. Andrew Patterson can dig it.

  • Those smooth, catchy Digable Planets.

In the early '90s, many rappers were reaping the benefits from long overdue attention they were receiving from the general public. Hip-hop was quickly becoming a major force in North American popular music as more and more people began shedding their preconceptions. With huge backing from major labels, artists like Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dogg, 2Pac and Dr. Dre were capitalizing on the gangster lifestyles they had spent years cultivating in the underground.

In the frenzy of major label attention, more soft-spoken, thought-provoking rappers were scoring record deals on subsidiary labels and helping to flesh out the new face of hip-hop. Digable Planets made the best of such an opportunity by releasing the elegant debut single "Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)," to critical acclaim in 1993. Looking at the Billboard "Hot Rap Singles" chart for that year, Digable Planets are a veritable pariah amongst the likes of Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and the decidedly more terrifying Onyx.

Their sound was shaped more by their parents record collections than their peers. "My mom and dad were music lovers," recalls founding member Craig "Doodlebug" Irving. "Growing up I heard Bessie Smith, John Coltrane, Earth, Wind & Fire. On Sundays my mom would put jazz records on to entice us to help her clean the house. Then, when I discovered hip-hop, I would steal her records to sample them."

The group released two stellar albums filled with samples from the likes of Art Blakey, Roy Ayers and Sonny Rollins before calling it quits in late 1994. With this scant output, the group proved that their jazz roots went much deeper than mere sampling; combining subtly provocative rhymes with smooth, catchy beats was a refreshing outflow of the radical spirit of jazz. With precision placement and smooth diction, the three emcees waxed poetic about anything from haircuts and Snapple to abortion rights, gun control and Marxism.

Since reuniting in 2005, the group insists that this insightful sentiment remains integral to their craft. "It's all about growth and metamorphosis." says Irving "We've got a lot of classics, we keep the foundations, but there's some new stuff too. We don't want to stagnate." With no sign of a release date for the new material anytime soon, attendance guarantees a preview of where these hip-hop heavies are going next, as well as a high quality slab of revivalism backed by the trio's very own Cosmic Funk Orchestra.


Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

Latest in Festivals

In Print This Week

Vol 24, No 21
October 20, 2016

Cover Gallery »

Real Time Web Analytics

© 2016 Coast Publishing Ltd.