Sunday, November 30, 2008

Digable Planets @ Emo's, 11.19.08

It was a blast from the past when Digable Planets took the outside stage at Emo's. It was also like a dream come true for me. Having grown up on hip-hop music, Digable Plants were one of my favorite groups during my early teens. Of course everyone knows them for their mega-hit "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)," but that is only one song on an album of great material found on their breackthrough debut Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space). Yet the fans know that it's their second album Blowout Comb that is a true hip-hop head's gold mine. 13 years after their break up Butterfly, Ladybug, and Doodlebug joined together again for an awesome show.

Even being a fan, Digable Planets will always remain an enigma to me. It's mainly because I don't understand how their legacy is not more prevalent in the annals of hip-hop history. Their brand of jazz infused rap came at a time before the term "alternative hip-hop" was even coined. They even won a Grammy for their efforts. But when it comes down to it I do understand; it comes down to the fact that after 1994's highly critically-acclaimed Blowout Comb became a commercial flop, the group disbanded with all three members disappearing into almost total obscurity. Yes there was Butterfly's band Cherrywine and Ladybug Mecca's solo album, but those were small scale compared to what they could have achieved together. It's almost painful to think that if Digable Planets would have stayed together and released another album or two they could have joined the ranks of A Tribe Called Quest and De La Soul as hip-hop legends. However they are now more likely grouped with others like Black Sheep as those who let icon status slip through their fingers by breaking up.

Digable Planets did reunite in 2005 to promote a "best of" collection that was released and rumors of a new album have been following ever since. This is what brought them to their current tour stopping off here in Austin. Performing some of their best known songs–"Nickle Bags," "Where I'm From," "Dial7 (Axioms of Cream Spies)," and "9th Wonder"–they also mixed in some unheard songs that could be from an album in the works. By the looks of it the Brooklyn based trio has not missed a step.

As evident by the jam pack crowd at Emo's, I am not the only person that would enthusiastically welcome new Digable Plants material. Lets all hope that the new album rumors are more than just rumors.

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