Digable Planets

Digable Planets Biography

American alternative hip hop group based in New York City, known for it's fusion of Jazz and Hip hop. Current Members: Craig Irving, Ishmael Butler

In New York City, a Former Seattle resident Butterfly (a k a Ishmael Butler) hooked up with Philadelphia native Doodlebug (Craig Irving), who was a member of NY dread Poets Society, and Ladybug aka Mecca (Mary Ann Vieira) a Maryland denizen of Brazilian descent. They were backed by Silkworm, who later embarked on a solo career under the name King Britt

By the late 1980s Butterfly had moved to Philadelphia to live with his grandmother while making a living and learning the ropes of the local music scene. He met Doodlebug on the local circuit while the latter was rapping with an outfit called Dread Poets Society, which later became the 7 OD’s. Butterfly, Doodlebug, and Ladybug soon became fast friends and rapping partners. In the early days of Digable Planets, they lived together, first in Jersey City, New Jersey, and later, New York. The last move brought them into the heart of Brooklyn’s black neighborhoods, where they scraped by for a while rapping and working. Ladybug, for example, was selling sneakers just before the group won its record contract in 1992. By that summer, however, they were recording the material for their first album with Pendulum Records

When Digable Planets first appeared on MTV airwaves in 1992, they attracted attention for many reasons, not the least of which was their unorthodox appearance. While most hip-hop outfits tend to be strictly defined by gender—all men highlighting their masculinity or all women carving out their own space— the Planets presented viewers with two men and a woman who was not just a figurehead.

What, exactly, did it mean? The name sprang, they explained, from the notion that every individual is a planet. But the unique worlds that their tracks mapped out were not insular ones; as their Grammy-winning hit Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” would prove, the Planets were primed to connect with audiences weary of the aggressive posturing of gangsta rap.

Butterfly spent his childhood in Seattle, Washington, where he was born in the early 1970s. After his parents divorced, he moved around the country with his history professor father, living in Baltimore, Maryland; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; and Harlem and Brooklyn, New York. Butterfly’s father provided him with a rich musical environment, exposing his son to an extensive jazz collection. As Butterfly grew up, he augmented that foundation with rap; he also played saxophone in his teen years. Upon completing high school, he attended the University of Massachusetts on a basketball scholarship but quit before long. He decided instead to earn an education in the music business, taking an internship with Sleeping Bag Records, a New York City-based hip-hop label, in the mid-1980s.

Relating a similar early exposure to jazz, Butterfly’s band mate Doodlebug recalled the music of his childhood for Ann Powers of Spin. “My mother would always sit around, reading a book or the Sunday paper, and listen to jazz. My aunt taught me about [jazz legends] Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday, she was always playing the records and talking about them,”he explained. Born in the late 1960s, Doodlebug grew up in Philadelphia before moving to Washington, D. C., to attend Howard University, where he made a reputation for himself as a deejay .... Click here to read the full bio on DISCOGS.

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