Digable Planets (/ˈdɪɡəbəl ˈplænəts/) is an American alternative hip hop trio formed in 1987, in Brooklyn, New York. The trio is composed of rappers Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler (from Seattle), Mary Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira (from Silver Spring, Maryland), and Craig “Doodlebug” Irving (from Philadelphia).
Butler and Irving met in Philadelphia in the late 1980s; Vieira and Irving had been a couple while attending Howard University. Originally from Seattle, Butler was interning at Sleeping Bag Records in New York and would visit his grandmother in Philadelphia where Irving was living and rapping with an outfit called the Dread Poets Society (later known as the 7 OD’s). The initial demos recorded under the name Digable Planets featured only Butler. After a brief stint with two other members, Butler began collaborating with Irving and Vieira in 1989.
1992–1993: Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space)
The group signed to Pendulum Records in 1992 and all three band members moved to New York, where Butler and Irving became roommates. Their debut album Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) was released in 1993 and certified gold by the RIAA. The album’s lead single, “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” became a crossover hit, peaking at #15 on Billboard magazine’s singles chart, earning gold certification by the RIAA, and winning Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. The track peaked at #67 in the UK Singles Chart in February 1995.
1994–1995 Blowout Comb and breakup
The group’s second album Blowout Comb was released in 1994. The album was noted by critics as a stark departure from the previous album, being darker, less hook-oriented and more overtly political in its references to Black Panther and Communist imagery. Writing for Spin in December 1994, Craig Marks declared it “… a beguiling, demanding, damn near revolutionary follow-up.” Blowout Comb features guest appearances from artists Jeru the Damaja, Sulaiman and Guru of Gang Starr.
In the same year the group appeared on the Red Hot Organization’s compilation album, Stolen Moments: Red Hot + Cool. The album, meant to raise awareness and funds in support of the AIDS epidemic in relation to the African American community, was heralded as “Album of the Year” by Time magazine. The band subsequently disbanded in early 1995 citing “creative differences”.
In February 2005 the trio reunited and embarked on a reunion tour, which was followed by the release of a compilation album titled Beyond the Spectrum: The Creamy Spy Chronicles on October 15, 2005 that combined previously released material with remixes and B-sides.
Digable Planets held a reunion tour during spring and summer 2016.