Digable Planets went from overnight pop stars to cult darlings in the span of two albums in the 1990s. The hip-hop trio (Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler; Mary Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira; Craig “Doodlebug” Irving) soared to the top of the pop charts with their 1993 Grammy-winning debut album Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) and its breakout, instant-classic single “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat).” Critical darlings who won over rock critics, were big pop stars, and had respect from even the most demanding heads, the trio almost immediately felt hemmed in and misrepresented by the way they were positioned in the press and popular imagination. Their coolly melded hip-hop and jazz influences became party anthems and background fare for trend chasers of the day, while the race consciousness and political content of their lyrics were almost completely overlooked.
The trio remedied all that with their 1994 sophomore album Blowout Comb, whose unapologetic, unrelenting pride in blackness – and assertion of that pride on uncompromising political terms – quickly burned away the pop audience and left a lot of critics and fans scratching their heads. The trio broke up in 1995. They all went on to have various but minor degrees of success as solo artists. Blowout, meanwhile, is now considered a minor hip-hop masterpiece. The volatile, blood-drenched racial politics of right now are a perfect time to revisit it.
Digable Planets have just announced that they’re regrouping for a brief reunion tour. Dates so far include:
5/28 Sasquatch Festival – George, WA
7/2 Essence Festival – New Orleans, LA
7/16 Pitchfork Festival – Chicago, IL
7/18 Woodward Theater – Cincinnati OH
7/19 Orange Peel – Asheville, NC
7/20 The Saturn – Birmingham, AL
7/21 The Exit In – Nashville, TN
7/22 Masquerade – Atlanta, GA
7/23 Music Farm – Charleston, SC
7/24 Cat’s Cradle – Carrboro, NC
7/26 9:30 Club – Washington, DC
7/28 Ardmore Music Hall – Ardmore, PA
8/18 Pioneer Park – Salt Lake City, UT (Twilight Series) with Pusha T