On their second LP as Digable Planets, Ladybug Mecca, Butterfly, and Doodlebug combined their laid-back, internal-rhyme-heavy verses with landscape-sketching beats and infectious yet fleeting refrains for a project that is at once relentlessly mellow and chock full of hidden detail.
Blowout Comb opens on classic horn punches, but a tiny guitar melody follows with warm vocals, before a verse from Ladybug. Black Ego follows with seven minutes that thrive nearly entirely on instrumentals with a solemn acoustic bass melody combined with highly articulated drums and distant, whispery backing vocals.
The group wear Brooklyn on their sleeves on Borough Check–which starts with a crunchy, live rap-battle setting, before finding a more smooth studio sound–and Graffiti, where the planets strut their stuff and out-rhyme the whole city.
Political undercurrents pop out on Black Ego‘s sketch of an arrest–“like I ever had rights?” and although the album is famously not radio friendly, the infectious Ohio Players sample on 9th Wonder (Blackitolism) shines as lyrics address mainstream consumption of black style–“Now glamor boys want to be triple phatted.”
Shouting out Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus (among others), the group owned the Jazz-Rap tag and brought it to new heights on the masterful Blowout Comb.