Digable Planets

Digable Planets is a jazz hip hop group from Brooklyn, New York. It was formed in 1992. The group is made up of Ishmael Butler, Ann Vieira, and Craig Irving. Their 1993 single, “Rebirth of Slick” (Cool Like Dat), is their most well-known hit. It was played on alternative and hip-hop radios in the United States. They broke up in 1995, but reunited in 2005. Their memorable moniker, Digable Planets, was a catchy name that raised eyebrows when hip-hop trio Digable Planets first emerged in the early 1990s. What did this name actually mean? They explained that the name came from the idea that “everyone is a planet”. However, their Grammy-winning song “Rebirth Of Slick” proved that the Planets were able to connect with a wider audience that was tired of the aggressive gangsta rap. Their albums Reachin'(A New Refutation of Time And Space) (1993), and Blowout Comb (94) were filled with literate lyrics and a smooth flow. They set the standard for hip-hop and the next generation of soul poets. In New York City, the group was formed in the early 1990s. Butterfly, a former Seattle resident and Ishmael Butcher, joined forces with Doodlebug (Craig Irving), a Philadelphia native who was a member the New York collective Dread Poets Society. Ladybug (Mary Ann Vieira), is a Maryland citizen of Brazilian descent. The new names each member chose reflected a universal consciousness, just like the band name. Ladybug stated in Essence that insects work together for mutually beneficial causes. Doodlebug said, “Insects stick together and work for mutually beneficial causes,” Ladybug observed in Essence. They incorporated elements from funk, samba and psychedelia in their street-savvy hip hop; jazz played a key role. They paid tribute to Charlie Parker and Charles Mingus, and also sampled other artists like Sonny Rollins or the Last Poets. Butterfly, a tribute to their jazz forefathers, said that they had developed a unique language and style. “Those cats used the vernacular of their language to communicate a different perspective.” The Planets followed the lead of their jazz forefathers with bold, intelligent lyrical references, including to Jimi Hendrix and Karl Marx, as well as feminist bell hooks and Nikki Giovanni. The Planets’ debut album was met with enthusiastic reviews. Kevin Powell gave the Planets’ debut album “Reachin” (A New Refutation of Time And Space) four stars in a Rolling Stone review. “And Digable Planets” would reach #15 on Billboard 200 and break the Top 5 on R.

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