Digable Planets /ˈdɪɡəbəl ˈplænəts/ was an American alternative hip hop trio based in New York City, composed of Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler (from Seattle), Mary Ann "Ladybug Mecca" Vieira (from Silver Spring, Maryland) and Craig "Doodlebug" Irving (from Philadelphia).
1993 and their first album:
The group had worked separately in different groups, but in late 1992 they began to perform together as "Digable Planets." Their unique fusion of jazz and hip hop received excellent reviews and solid sales with the release of their debut album, Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space), in 1993, which was certified gold by the RIAA.
The album's lead single, "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)", in 1993 became a crossover hit, peaking at #15 on Billboard magazine's singles chart, earning gold certification by the RIAA, and winning the Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. The track peaked at #67 in the UK Singles Chart in February 1995.
1994, the second album, and their charitable causes:
The group's second album, Blowout Comb, was released in 1994 (see 1994 in music). This album departed from their debut by including feature appearances from outside artists, such as Jeru the Damaja and Guru of Gang Starr. The album was inventive for its time but did not yield any chartable hits.
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 trio subsequently broke up due to creative differences in early 1995. An additional hardship hit group member Ladybug Mecca when she dealt with the deaths of both of her parents. (A retrospective album Beyond the Spectrum: The Creamy Spy Chronicles was released in 2005, mixing previously released material with remixes and B-sides.)
Solo work and reunions:
Butler established a live music hip-hop act called Cherrywine, whose album Bright Black was released in 2003 to a lackluster reception. Butler also started a project under the moniker Shabazz Palaces in his home of Seattle. The group has released two 7 song albums as well as a full length LP on Sub Pop Records, all of which were met with great critical acclaim.
Doodlebug is now known as Cee Knowledge and tours with a band called Cee Knowledge & the Cosmic Funk Orchestra that released two albums in limited edition on FarmHouse Records.
Ladybug (now known as Lady Mecca) has also embarked on a solo career, releasing an album Trip The Light Fantastic in 2005. Ladybug Mecca also appeared on "Spreadin' Rhythm Around" on Legacy/Sony's Billie Holiday Remixed and Reimagined album. In 2008 Ladybug Mecca collaborated with eMC (Masta Ace, Punchline, Wordsworth, Stricklin) on the title track "The Show" and Del tha Funkee Homosapien's album Eleventh Hour on the song "I Got You", and also contributed the voice of Tracey Triceratops, the leader of The Dino 5, on the Dino-5 children's CD through Ropeadope Records. Lady Mecca also performed as DJ Lady Mecca on March 12, 2011 at LOLA in St. Louis, Missouri. According to Kevin C. Johnson, St. Louis Post-Dispatch pop music critic, "what stood out about Mecca's two-hour, 50-song set was her song choices, full of selections music fans don't necessarily hear every weekend at the clubs (unlike, say, DJ Solange, who totally pandered to the crowd at the gig at Exo earlier this year)."
In February 2005 the trio reunited and embarked on a reunion tour, with a compilation album released on October 15, 2005. According to the Digable Planets' Official MySpace page, maintained by Doodlebug and Butterfly, Lady Mecca chose to not continue future collaborations with Doodle and Butter.
From 2009 to 2011, Doodlebug and Butterfly toured across the U.S., Canada, and Europe. Backed by the live band, Doodlebug's Cosmic Funk Orchestra, and often with Butterfly's Shabazz Palaces or hip hop duo Camp Lo as the supporting act, they toured with other female MCs to represent the female energy that has always been a core element of the group.
The group performed at Numbers, in Houston, Texas, on May 15, 2010, alongside the hip hop duo Camp Lo. During an interview with the Houston Chronicle near the time of this show, Doodlebug stated that a new single would be released, called "Fresh Out", and that a new album was planned for digital release in summer of 2010.
The group also performed alongside hip-hop group The Pharcyde at the North by Northeast music festival in Toronto, Ontario on June 19, 2011.
A reunion show scheduled for December 2012 in Seattle, Washington was cancelled days before the performance. When asked in a subsequent interview about the group's status, Butler stated bluntly "I think it's the end."