Digable Planets Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver BC - June 16, 2005
Published Jul 01, 2005So they're back, but are they still "cool like dat?" That was the question for many of the folks at the Digable Planets reunion show. For others, they were simply there to get the party started. Back together after ten years, the three original members - Butterfly (aka Ishmael Butler/ Cherrywine), Doodlebug (aka Cee Knowledge) and Ladybug (aka Ms. Mecca) - all seemed happy to be back in the game, on stage and in front of an enthusiastic crowd. With each taking turns at the mic throughout the show, the material was almost all recognisable to those familiar with their breakout album, Reachin', and the follow-up, Blowout Comb. Overall, the music was obviously reminiscent of the early '90s hip-hop sound, à la Arrested Development and A Tribe Called Quest, which is now crazily considered old skool. While all the members seemed to have been, or are currently, working on other projects, it was only Ladybug that performed tracks off her new solo album. While some comparisons can be made to the currently über-successful Black Eyed Peas, what drew me originally to the Digable Planets were their political and socially aware lyrics and their original laidback jazz-infused hip-hop sound. To my disappointment, the newly revitalised Planets seem to be big on good times but lack their original intensity and edginess. It seemed the moments during the show where the electricity did fly were limited to near the end when the three MCs were joined on stage by talented live musicians playing drums, bass and keys. Clearly, with this tour the band is testing the waters to see how they will be received after such a long hiatus. With plans to release a new Digable Planets album later this year, it will be interesting to see how it unfolds and where it goes. Hopefully before then, they'll regain some of the artistic spark and creativity that brought them their original critical acclaim and fans.