Today in Hip Hop History: February 9, 1993
Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the Digable Planets‘ debut album, Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), which was released by Pendulum Records and Elektra Records. Following on the heels of fellow jazz hip hop groups The Pharcyde and The Native Tongues, the Digable Planets infused jazzy samples and clear and concise rhymes to produce the archetypal late Golden Age boom-bap sound.
The trio consisted of Ladybug Mecca, Doodlebug and Butterfly, who began collaborating in New Jersey at the turn of the decade in 1989. Digable Planets manufactured a unique sound, comparable to that of a more jazzy Fugees, with the dynamic of two male rappers and one female rapper.
Despite none of the three being originally from New York, Reachin’ became much of a tribute to the region’s boom bap sub-genre at the latter end of its tenure. Containing production that envies that of Pete Rock, DJ Premier and the likes, the Digable Planets added a twist of psychedelia and class to their lyricism. Additionally, Butterfly and Doodlebug explained a track-by-track analysis of the album in Brian Coleman’s book Check The Technique (think Rap Genius before Rap Genius existed).
Reachin’ received rave reviews from hip hop heads and mainstream publications alike. In 1998, The Source named Reachin’ among their 100 Best Rap Albums of All Time. In addition, several hip hop artists have sampled from them:
We be to rap, what key be to lock – but
We be to rap, what key be to lock
-E-40, “Yay Area”
The aforementioned lyrics stem from Digable Planets’ most famous track, “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat),” which garnered the trio a Grammy for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group. Furthermore, Reachin’ peaked at #15 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and became RIAA Certified Gold later in 1993.