November 11, 2016
Digable Planets played Webster Hall
Legends from the Underground, Digable Planets brought their most recent tour to Webster Hall for a funky-fresh hometown thriller.
This isn't Digable's first time on the comback train, but their excitement, style, and flows were still smooth and charismatic. Entering to Peaches & Herbs' "Reunited" it was clear that emotions were up and the trio were ready to throw down some laid back jams of timeless cult-favorite tracks. Their original run only saw the release of two records, 1992' Reachin' (A Far Refutation of Time and Space) and 1994's landmark (and one of my overall favorite 90's albums) Blowout Comb so the show is still back catalogue hits that remind you just how far-out and ahead of the game they were back in the '90s. Some tracks make them seem like they're in the same orbit as Outkast with an injection of urban New York grit. Their infusion of jazz was paramount to their message and was a key component of New York '90s street style and culture. Their use of abstract lyrics over invented beats made them retro-futurists. Their band, The Culprits, dropped some spaced-out rhythms and took welcomed solos to show off their chops between Butterfly, Ladybug, and Doodlebug's intertwined rhymes, showcasing the spontaneity and impulses of their jazz influences. The chants of "It's Good To Be Here" and "New York Is Red Hot" were vivacious, warming the room up to motivating vibes and an enhanced mood. In a difficult week, Digable Planets delivered spirit and positivity to a much needed crowd. The group never hit the mainstream like their brothers in A Tribe Called Quest (although they did win a Grammy for Best Rap Performance), but their approach to hip-hop was so unique and forward thinking, it's no wonder that the avant-guard styles of Shabazz Palaces are cut from the same cloth and their impact is without question vital. As they welcomed the audience to their galaxy, their stretched imagination webbed into intricate layers and the far ends of rapping's spectrum. It's late night jazz married to straight-forward and skilled raps. It's low-lit party music for when the after party is just getting started. An hour and fifteen minutes later and it seemed as the night and just grooved away. As they announced the finale of the show, "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like That)", the room lit up with energy. Boogie shuffles and hands in the air, the band evoked a new life from their fans and for a brief moment took our minds away from home here on Earth.