Digable Planets @ The Neptune

Chill like dat 🌎

📸: Courtesy Digable Planets

Friday, December 30 • 8 pm

It’s usually a sound policy to eye Grammy-winning musicians with skepticism, but hip-hop group Digable Planets are an exception. Featuring MCs Mary Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira, Craig “Doodlebug” Irving, and Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, Digable Planets exploded out of the gate in 1993 with their steely, silky first single (“Rebirth Of Slick [Cool Like Dat]”) and debut album (Reachin’ [A New Refutation Of Time And Space]), earning big sales, critical acclaim, and industry validation at the highest level. They’d proved that hip-hop could wax positive over sophisticated, obscure samples that merged jazz with funk and still appeal to the masses.

Nowhere to go but down after that, right? Nope. Digable returned in 1994 with Blowout Comb, an even stronger brew of higher-consciousness political rapping and gritty funk production. They were laid-back cousins of the Native Tongues crew, privileging cerebral verses over the era’s gangsta-glorifying bars. While Digable’s records were built from samples of world-class jazz, soul, and funk songs, the 21st-century DP live experience benefits from actual musicians—including Butler’s Shabazz Palaces bandmate, percussionist Tendai Maraire, and musical director Thaddeus Turner—replicating and extrapolating on those dynamite foundations. The core trio’s chemistry remains as robust as ever, even after all of the hiatuses.

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Dave Segal

Dave Segal

Dave Segal is a freelance music writer for The Wire, Pitchfork, Aquarium Drunkard, and other publications. He formerly served as staff writer at The Stranger and as managing editor at Alternative Press. Find him on Twitter @editaurus