Beyond the Spectrum: The Creamy Spy Chronicles

Artist: Digable PlanetsTitle: Beyond the Spectrum: The Creamy Spy ChroniclesRating: 4 1/2 StarsReviewed by: aqua boogie

Digable Planets never really got their fair shot. When they slipped into the scene with 1993’s Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), snagging a Grammy and accolades longer than the album’s title, many dubbed them as late guests to the Native Tongue show. They were also accused of being too soft for the growing, and economically favorable, gangsta rap rhetoric. Nevertheless, Butterly, Doodlebug, and the “damn she’s fly and she can rhyme too” Ladybug Mecca put together some fresh Hip-Hop grooves. Beyond the Spectrum: The Creamy Spy Chronicles (Blue Note) compiles their singles and choice B-sides from their pair of albums, making it an ideal primer for the young heads who missed out.

In Hip-Hop, the B-side on that choice piece of vinyl is often more than just a throwaway song. One here in particular, the lyrically underappreciated Ishmael “Butterly” Butler’s solo “Dedication”, which originally appeared on the flip to “Dial 7 (Axioms of Creamy Spies)”, finds him smoothly giving the finger to his crew’s detractors over affectionate keys when he kicks, “ Sh*tty ass rap need a firm gun clap, revolution time, I’m cool like that, go pop I would never act a fool like that, I’m a Panther, to a triple six I’m cancer

Likely because their catalog falls under EMI-and in turn this is a Blue Note Records release-the album’s selections include the jazzier elements of their catalog, not exactly a reach. Digable’s choice singles “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)”, “Nickel Bags” and even the harder edged “9th Wonder (Blackitolism)” are all here. Rare gems like the bass brooding “Where I’m From Remix” (actually called the “Aural G-Ride” version on the original wax) or the slick Bob James sampling album cut “Jettin’” from their sophomore sleeper Blowout Comb round out this disc. But where is “Flyin’ High in the Brooklyn Sky” from the Stolen Moments Red Hot + Cool album?

Digable Planets find themselves back together and a reunion album is forthcoming. But in Hip-Hop, more specifically the rap industry, when your time in the limelight is darkened, successful comebacks are an oddity. But vintage nostalgia makes a smile and nod to familiar beats guaranteed.