Since both Passion of the Weiss and Gorilla vs. Bear opted to throw some love to Ishmael Butler aka Shabazz Palaces, formerly Chillywine and before that Butterfly, it seemed only right to give props to his original hip hop band, Digable Planets. In addition to Butler, we had Craig “Doodlebug” Irving (currently Cee Knowledge) and Mary Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira sharing lyrical duties with Silkworm (currently King Britt) on the wheels of steel.
Digable Planets were remarkable at the time for both their knowledgeable lyrics and their super heavy jazz sampling. Strictly from a hip hop perspective, these were the cats that jump started the whole spoken word, coffee house chic movement of the early 90s. They picked up where Stetsasonic left off, for those of you in the know, with both groups favoring the improvisational flow of jazz’s seemingly loose framework and utilizing live bands on tour when damn near everyone else just had a DJ.
DP only put out two CDs, Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) in ’93 and Blowout Comb in ’94. Reachin’ spawned the classic and Grammy Award Winning “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” and an unabashed love of parentheses. Blowout Comb was a more militant affair, and the band fell out of favor with the general public. A breakup followed shortly thereafter, with each going their separate ways to solo careers of their own (see below for samples of that). There was a brief reunion tour in 2005 along with a compilation album and unfulfilled promises for another tour in 2008.
Also, this cute friend of mind from college always used to greet people by saying, “What’s happenin’, Butterfly?,” a line straight from the track Swoon Units. So there’s that, too.