Review Summary: A great hip hop album that starts "Digable Planets" discography off well.
Digable planets are a hip hop group from Brooklyn, New York who boast a heavy soul and funk influence that comes out in there heavy soul sampling and funk based grooves.
There debut album “Reachin” is a fine example of this style of hip hop and to me is one of the best. Of course we cant forget groups such as “ A Tribe Called Quest” or “ De La Soul” who have a similar sound but this is still a very important release.
“Digable planets” take a very funk based approach to hip hop and they do it well. Most of these tracks have fantastic grooves and some super catchy hooks. But there is more to this album then good grooves. These tracks have some awesome momentum even though they have a really lax, chilled out atmosphere, and the production is very on point and in sync with the energy this album has. And “energy” is a choice word when describing this album to someone who has not heard this Lp. The Lyrics have a very “straight forward thinking” esthetic, but at the same time a lot of these lyrics are all about just…grooving and letting the music’s funk take over your body and soul…and that’s pretty great seeing as how these beats do just that. Digable planets were never about a heavy message or some sort of theme. It is really about the music and the over all mood it puts you in. That being said, the rapping is still fantastic. The Three MC’s, Lady bug Mecca, Butterfly, and Doodle Bug have some really nice flow and they all have a distinct sound to there voice and there own unique sounding inflection, so it never really gets stale. Each of these MC’s all take turns rapping over these beats with some really smooth, warm group vocals for a lot of the hooks on here and there’s just a lot of interplay between these guys as they take turns spitting verses. The rapping takes on a really soulful, lax, somewhat effortless quality to them and they fit right in with the funk based beats.
The production is ultimately what won me over on this record. There is a lot of soul samples on here, so there are a lot of instruments, sounds and textures flying in and out of these tracks. The sampling is done with such taste and finesse however, nothing ever gets muddy or hazy. Every sound is clear and colorful and really rings out nicely. The horn samples have a really nice tone to them coming off as very warm and sometimes lucid but never lacking solidness or ever falling flat. Same can be said about the drums, very crisp and clean sometimes very bright as well. As far as effects go, this album is not drowning in them but it can sound a bit glossy as far as the vocals go, they are layered with a nice re-verb but I wouldn’t say there heavy handed with it. And that’s the thing about this record, its so tasteful and balanced, never under or overwhelming. It hits a perfect middle ground.
Every thing on this record is strong. The sounds are clear and textured, the rapping is on point and smooth and there is just a lot of great quotable lyrics on here if you really listen. And I did say that there aren’t any heavy messages on here but there are some lyrical themes on here that aren’t so fixed on “funkanauts” or “fat beats” like the track “ La Femme Fetal” witch speaks of a sad women who is being oppressed because she is a women and butterfly speaks of this story without being to preachy and that’s good. So whether its this records warm sounds, great rapping, or wonderfully produced beats that win you over you can rest assure that Digable Planets do all these things well, and there happy to be here.