REVIEW: Digable Planets at Ardmore Music Hall

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WRITTEN BY: Holden Linton

Ardmore Music Hall was absolutely blessed to have the legendary, Grammy-Award winning Classic Jazz Rap group, Digable Planets, come back together to turn the place upside down. The group had support from Philly-based band Johnny Popcorn and the show was hosted by the legendary Lady B. With the presence of all the group members, Butterfly (Ishmael Butler), Ladybug Mecca (MaryAnn Santos Vieira), and visiting Philly, his home town, Doodlebug (Craig Irving), the audience was so excited to time travel with Digable Planets back into the 90s. 

Digable Planets released a live album in 2017 based on their 2016 performance at Ardmore Music hall, the last time the Jazz Rap trio performed in the Philly area. Fans came to the show knowing that they were going to get the same great live experience they had from the last show. The live band and their energy were presented at the show. The crowd was made up of primarily old-school hip hop heads that grew up with Digable Planets — and if you are an old-school hip hop head that didn’t make it to this show, you missed out on one hell of a performance. 

As usual, Digable Planets started their show off with the classic “May 4th Movement” with the infamous horns in the intro signifying that Butterfly, Ladybug Mecca, and Doodlebug were going to shut the place down. The live band was tight and made the whole performance a surreal one. The crowd was getting funky and were touched by the nostalgia of the tight rhymes delivered by the trio, since “the May 4th Movement” was the first tune they would hear whenever they turned on Blowout Comb on their home record player. 

Everyone could tell that Digable Planets was glad to be back at The Ardmore Music Hall, especially Doodlebug in particular. He was so happy to be back at where he grew up, paying homage to all corners of Philly and sharing his memories of growing up in the city and the people that held close arms with him. Digable Planets played the material that came from both their masterpiece albums, Reachin (A New Refutation of Time and Space) and their follow up Blowout Comb

The whole performance was so smooth, yet also a new experience with the use of Ishmael’s vocal effects and sampler, making the vibe in the room a big one. The live band delivered with the funk, which went well with performance, giving the whole show a classic jazzy vibe. 

The crowd would be yelling the lyrics of hit Digable Planets songs back at the trio, saying “do what ya feel,” “We Jettin’ uptown,” “It’s good to be here.” Digable Planets then finished the show off with their quintessential song “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like That).” The whole crowd started to turn up once this classic jam came on, shouting back “I’m cool like that, I’m cool like that…” Digable Planets once again left Ardmore Music Hall with a great presentation of perfection and will leave Philly with the hopes of them coming back to funk it up again. If you ever get the chance to see Digable Planets, go catch them, you don’t want to miss out on a good time.


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