Missed Music

Music you didn’t know you needed…until now.

Old school Jazz influenced Hip Hop from Digable Planets

I have some old school Hip Hop for you today. You might remember Digable Planets. Their hit Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat) with its infectious beat and groovy horns was inescapable in 1994. I love the intersection of Hip Hop and Jazz and these guys were pioneers of the form. The release it came from, Reachin’ (A New Refutation Of Time And Space), was wonderful. That single and three other tracks from that album are on my iPod:

  • Pacifics – “New York is red hot.” As is this tune. What a great groove. This is my favorite Digable Planets Tune.
  • Where I’m FromA poppy horn riff and friendly percussion back up Ladybug, Butterfly, and Doodlebug’s reminisces about their roots.
  • Time & Space (A New Refutation Of) – I’m not sure where they’re getting the loops here, but it’s a good use of the horn and piano samples.
This incredibly cool poster is availble on their website.

This incredibly cool poster is availble on their website.

What I really wanted to talk about, though, was their follow-up, Blowout Comb. In spite of how much I enjoyed their first release, it took me 10 years to get around to buying it. Ah, the wasted years. I don’t know if there is a single tune on Blowout Comb with the impact of Pacifics or Rebirth of Slick, but the entire disc is stronger throughout. Six songs from this release made my iPod. Give these a listen:

  • Black Ego – This has a very relaxed guitar and keyboard groove. The percussion kicks in about a minute into the track. I love Doodlebug’s flow in particular on this track.
  • Jettin’ – This song is built around a keyboard hook and celebrates New York City. This was my ringtone for a while.
  • K.B.’s Alley (Mood Dudes Groove) – This guitar riff is so fat they use it again later in the disc. For this one, they don’t rap over it. It’s just a 2-minute-long Jazz platform for some horn solos.
  • Graffiti – This is a very spare arrangement of drums and a little vibes. By the end there is some finger snapping and saxophone. Ladybug lays it down so well in her first verse it carried the rest of the track for me, allowing it to make the cut.
  • 9th Wonder (Blackitolism) – Back to the groove from K.B.’s Alley. This time they give it the full treatment for 4 ½ minutes. This track sounds like it would be right at home on a Missy Elliot / Timbaland album.
  • For Corners – From their lyrics, it sounds like these guys spent a lot of time hanging out on Sundays smoking joints and writing songs. This is one of them. An occasional sweet horn riff decorates this smooth tune.

As a point of interest, my Chillout mix from last Friday kicked off with a tune by King Britt. King Britt used to go by the name Silkworm and was the DJ who backed up this band. Small (digable) world.

Wikipedia tells me there is a new DPs album in the works, but it was supposed to be released in 2008. We can only hope they complete it. Their website doesn’t mention a new album, but they are touring the East coast starting next week. Hmmm…


March 18, 2009 - Posted by | Hip Hop, Jazz

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