Digable Planets @ the Biltmore
Digable Planets performed at the Biltmore last Saturday night and delighted old fans with their jazz infused, old school hip hop and slick verses. They helped influence hip hop during its most formative years and after all this time they still have it.
As I descended into the Biltmore cave it hit me. I was about to see one of hip-hop’s oldest treasures. Digable Planets rank among my favourite hip-hop groups although I have never seen them live. Grammy award winning The Rebirth of Slick redefined cool in the early 90’s and strongly influenced me.
The majority of the crowd definitely hired a babysitter for the night. Average age was 26 – 40. I love old school shows they always remind me of another time. This show could have been in 1992 and most of these same people would still be there — I would have been 12 but getting down nonetheless.
U.G.O crew opened. Their song Change ft. Sean Kingston was nominated for a 2010 Juno. They came out with a lot of energy. Unfortunately their performance came across like a SNL skit. Lead singer, Stevano aka Afrikan MC, had an energy that I just didn’t buy. He nodded and jumped around the stage as though mocking someone. I was happy to hear them wrap up.
Digable took the stage without Lady Bug Mecca. Apparently she left them due to ‘contract issues and poor management.’ Fortunately her replacement (didnt catch her name) was fierce on the mic, showcasing why she was chosen.
Original members Butterfly and Doodlebug rapped with familiar energy. Both repped the old school. Butterfly wore a Kangol and even had salt and pepper in his beard. Doodlebug sported a Notorious B.I.G – Ready to Die T-shirt. They played DP classic after classic “9th Wonder”, “Where I’m From” and even “Nickel Bag” before ending with “Rebirth of Slick”. The crowd didn’t let them off easy, forcing them to break the early show 11 o’clock curfew for an encore.
Digable performed with a full band – truly showcasing their musical talent. Many hip-hop shows have disappointed by offering a couple of dudes yelling over a microphone. Not this show. These guys are true musicians.
Butterfly shocked the hell out of me. He is by far one of the most underrated mc’s. Album recordings do him no justice, it has to be live. His voice and delivery are sick. I froze during several of his verses in amazement. Apparently he has returned to Seattle and is has released two underground records with new project Shabazz Palaces. Check out the track “32 leaves dipped in blackness making clouds forming altered carbon” It is beyond sick. I am digging on them… more to come.
At the show, the crowd knew the words to almost every song proving once again that Van City is one of the most knowledgeable old school hip hop markets around. I love Vancouver for that.
If Digable Planets releases a new album, get it — these guys can still do it.
Photo 4 is mine.