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Digable Planets

The Vogue

Sunday, Nov. 6, 8 p.m.

Tickets: $18 in advance, 239-5151

They only released a pair of albums during their too-brief heyday, but Digable Planets holds an honored spot in the history of hip-hop. The two-man, one-woman crew elevated the rap game to a new level of sophistication and thoughtfulness with the 1993 debut album Reachin' - A Refutation of Time and Space. Here was a group that was unafraid to give a female a prominent role, that refused to play along with stereotypes and who used sampling not just to steal James Brown riffs but to reach into jazz and blues as well. "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)" made Digable Planets a hit on MTV as well as Top 40 radio, and the group was determined to make the most of the opportunity.

The song peaked in the top 20, was certified gold and won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance. Digable Planets

Instead of playing it safe, and mining the success of "Cool Like Dat," Digable Planets wanted to do something nobody had ever done before. After a long delay, the band came up with an insanely ambitious follow-up, Blowout Comb. Mocked at the time, it sold poorly and the group fell apart. But hip-hop heads still play Blowout Comb to this day and praise it for its many innovations, both lyrically and musically.

It was thought that, after that statement, the band would be defunct forever. But the story has a happy ending. Comfortable that their kind of music is once again in vogue, Digable Planets has reissued a best-of album and reunited for a much-anticipated tour, bringing a sense of closure to a band whose career was cut tragically short.

The members of the band have spent the last decade on various solo projects and have even switched their names. Ladybug is now called Mecca the Ladybug and dispenses pro-feminist thoughtbites, and group leader Doodlebug is now known as Cee Knowledge. Both have had a respectable career apart, but now it's time to revisit what they created.

This is a rare opportunity to see a legendary hip-hop group in a small-club environment. Not originally on the band's schedule, the Indianapolis date is a blessing for those who remember the golden age of rap, when coolness was measured by the depth of your thoughts, not the loudness of your bass.

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