Digable Planets were one of the most influential rap groups of the early 1990’s. Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler, Mary Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira and Craig “Doodlebug” Irving scored a gold album with their debut Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space). Their lead single, “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” was also certified gold, and the group won the 1994 Grammy Award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. The Digable Planets will perform on Thursday (9/21) at the Howard Theatre, and before their show Doodlebug sat down with DC Mumbo Sauce to discuss the past, present and very bright future of this groundbreaking trio.
DC Super Sid: What have the members of Digable Planets been up to lately?
Doodlebug: We have all been working on creative projects. Butterfly formed Shabazz Palaces – they have been touring and they were just in DC at the Black Cat a couple of weeks ago. Ladybug is working on a big project with Prince Paul, and I created Cee Knowledge and the Cosmic Funk Orchestra (CFO). The CFO is about to drop a new album called AlienAided: A Cosmic Funk Anthology.
How long has Digable Planets been touring together again?
We actually did the first show in Seattle, Washington in 2015 and we have been touring constantly since then. We toured all of 2016 and we are talking about recording new music in the very near future. We recently released a new project entitled Digable Planets Live which is available right now on CD and on every digital music platform or website.
What was it like winning a Grammy Award?
It was probably the most surreal moment in my life. We were just happy to be in the category with the other rappers. We were up against some great artists like Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, Naughty by Nature, Cypress Hill and Arrested Development – so we didn’t expect to win. When Salt and Pepper called our names I will never forget how incredible it felt.
Did winning the Grammy help advance your careers?
It definitely helped, but it wasn’t like it is now. At the time the Grammys didn’t recognize very many rappers. I think before us there was only Jazzy Jeff, Young MC and Arrested Development. There was a backlash from many people in the hip-hop community because they felt slighted by the Grammys.
It must have been a great experience touring with James Brown and Sade.
It was a beautiful experience. We traveled all through South America with James Brown and his band and it was like being around royalty. He just had a magnetism about him. When he spoke to you it felt like you were the only person in the room although the room could be filled with people. And we did the North America tour with Sade. She was just a consummate professional. I was already a fan and just being around her and the band made me appreciate her even more. After our performance I used to sit in the audience and watch her show, we did 40 dates and it felt like she was doing a brand new show every night.
I remember you attended Howard University here in DC.
Yes, I’ve had a connection with Washington DC since I attended HU. I actually met Ladybug around that time because she grew up in Maryland right outside the city. In fact, I’m currently working with a DC artist named Maria Rose. She will be opening up for us at the Howard Theatre. After the show on Thursday Digable Planets is hosting an after party at Chaplin’s (1501 9th Street, NW). We’re going to be hanging out taking pictures with everyone and Maria Rose will be performing there also.
Digable Planets performs on Thursday, September 21st at the Howard Theatre (620 T Street, NW) The doors open at 7:00 p.m. and showtime is scheduled for 9:00 p.m. Advance tickets are available at:http://thehowardtheatre.com/show/2017/05/16/digable-planets/