Nostalgic Like Dat
Over the past few years, a new niche market has opened up in the hip-hop world. Instead of catering to teens hip-hop's traditional market this segment of the genre targets those who grew up loving hip-hop in the Eighties or Nineties but have since integrated themselves into the real world. CDs such as Common's Be or De La Soul's Grind Date are probably more popular in office break rooms than high school cafeterias, and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone under the age of twenty at a Black Sheep or a Brand Nubian show.
You can add Nineties avant-gawders Digable Planets to the ever-growing list of golden homies. The group burst onto the scene in 1993 with its ubiquitous, trs cool single "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)." That cut and the subsequent album, Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space), landed the group a Grammy (Best New Artist or Group). The followup, 1995's Blowout Comb, was equally lauded by critics and fans, though not nearly as commercially successful. And after that, the group disappeared for nearly ten years, re-emerging only last January.
Burner recently caught up with Digable frontman Doodlebug to talk about the group's past and future.
How does it feel being back on the stage with Ladybug and Butterfly?
It feels good. I didn't realize during the time we were away how much I missed them. And the new band is smoking. We got some cats who make it easy to ride on the beat. The whole presentation is pretty fresh.
I haven't seen your show yet, but I saw [Digital Underground's] Shock G perform about a year ago, and he brought the fucking roof down. A lot of guys from that era are coming out now and keeping it interesting.
The fans from that era miss that sort of shit. They got what they got now, but it's real different than the way it was. If you were into [hip-hop] then, you miss it and want to see it return to that level of quality. Besides, all of us cats are older and have gone through a lot of music and just life since then, so we can bring something fresh.
When you first came out in the Nineties, groups such as yours and Tribe Called Quest were at the forefront of the hip-hop jazz movement. But so much has passed now and your style has been mimicked constantly. Do you worry about staying relevant and one step ahead of the imitators?
Hmm ... you'd be wise not to worry about that and just do you. Take yourself you're a writer and you know that you come up with words, phrases, and insights that people latch onto and do their own thing with, but as soon as they do, you're already on to the next thing so fast that it's hard to tell who is really mimicking you or influenced by you. A lot of people tell me they were influenced by what we did, but I don't always hear it.
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