Digable Planets Talks Reuniting, Current Hip-Hop And Being Timeless
Interview by Antonice J
Editor's Note: An earlier version of this article erroneously stated that Mecca and Doodlebug once dated while students at Howard University. This is false and a long-running rumor that the group had denounced as pure conjecture.
(AllHipHop Features) When I say this had to be one of my favorite interviews, I definitely mean it. AllHipHop.com had the phenomenal opportunity to connect with one of Hip-Hop's most notable trio, Digable Planets. They made their way to Washington D.C. for a make-up show at the Howard Theatre, and per usual, the vibe was real.
In case you didn't know, Digable Planets is a trio comprised of Butterfly, Ladybug Mecca, and Doodlebug that grew to national prominence in the early 1990's with their smooth, jazzy form of Hip-Hop. Their first two album, Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space), went gold, but it was the single that immortalized them. "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" was an award-winning, gold selling smash hit that also went gold in 1993. Their second album Blowout Comb was a far more dark, political opus that eventually lead to their dissolution. Digable Planets broke up in 1995, then briefly reunited in 2005, and last performed together in 2011. In 2016, the group reunited once and for all.
We sat down with Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler, Mary Ann "Ladybug Mecca" Vieira, and Craig (Cee) "Doodlebug" Irving to discuss their reunion and the subsequent tour. We also got their take on music today and their excitement to rock the stage together on their old stomping grounds of Washington, D.C.
AllHipHop: I’m so sorry, but yes, I must start with the generic question. How did you all meet?
Butterfly: It's ironic to be here in D.C. really, because it's where a lot of this started, c being here and mac being from here and I would always see c when I would be down here from Philly or New York. We would always see each other at the parties, but I think we formally met in Philly
Cee: Yea, during our college days, yea we would see each other at the parties, and I actually knew you from back in the day before I met him. Point at Ladybug...
Ladybug: Oh really? Before you met him? See I didn't know that? (jokingly)
AllHipHop: How does it feel to be back on tour and being back in D.C. performing?
Ladybug: It's a good feeling, we’ve been touring for about 1 year now on and off, and it's cool. Were a lot older now, the b and is really dope, the energy is good. And Being in dc is special for me because you know I’m from the DMV. and it's kind of surreal. I was walking the streets and this guy was yelling out of the speakers about Go-go and Puerto Rico and it great to experience that type of time travel earlier today. So, it was good. It's good to link up with them again and we're moving forward.
AllHipHop: What's it like performing for your fans, especially as a reunited group?
Ladybug: Performing and connecting with the fans is what it's about. And that energy exchange is probably one of the most important things to me. Aside from making the music
AllHipHop: What is your most memorable performance experience:
Butterfly: James brown and Sade at the Apollo theatre it was in Brazil and my mom came and I remember we had to wait after his show for him to get his hair done, it was crazy but I remember how excited my mom was, because he was like her generation’s Michael Jackson. I remember her face on that day.
Ladybug: Yes, definitely when we opened for Sade’ I remember learning about her, buying the cassette for my walkman, and then getting the news that she wants us to open for her. It was dope.
AllHipHop: Why do you think rebirth of slick is such a multi-generational song that can be played at any time?
Cee: Music is opinionated sometimes. Different vibes resonate with people in different ways, and you feel it in your soul and luckily, we were able to hit something, a mark with everyone because I think its originality. Maybe even timing, because what would that song do if it came out today. But you know, good music is timeless. Our music is different and you get how genuine and authentic it is.
Butterfly: I agree with that
AllHipHop: Speaking of timeless music, how do you feel about the music today? The Rap and hip-hop, are you enjoying it or miss how music used to be?
Butterfly: I like a lot of the music now. The music is always going to represent the social times that the people lived in. We lived in a time where we were coming from our parents were in the movement and thinking about civil rights. These kid’s parents were coming from off Facebook. Ha-ha it’s not bad, it just what it was. So, music is more about fast surface stuff, you know what I mean. But a lot of it is good. It’s like good ideas, crazy ideas. I like
Ladybug: Me too, I like seeing a level of camaraderie between the artists that I didn't really notice before. I like Travis Scott, Kendrick, Frank Ocean, I’m really feeling them.
Cee: I don't really have an opinion. I just don't really have an opinion about it. I couldn't even name anybody and I listen to what I like to listen to. Stay in my own music bubble.
AllHipHop: What do you think sets you all apart from other groups or artists now or today.
Butterfly: I don't know if it sets us apart, but what makes us who we are which is going to be unique, is the mere fact if you can image there are ups and downs, but we're here. You know what I’m saying. It takes your own will but other wills too. It happens for us. That unique. You know a lot of group can’t even get to that point even. And you got to have passion for what it is.
Ladybug: I agree with what he's saying. The fact that we are who we are, we are unique together. it’s not better or worse, it just it. And the root is definitely the passion
Also, the time we got together, it was a rich time. You would be around that of the most electric and explosive people, and you carry that and it helps you in your personal life, and we're lucky to be here.
AllHipHop: I thank you so much for chatting with me, it is an honor and a blessing. And I appreciate it.