Digable Planets was a hip hop group whose debut album, Reachin’ (A New Refutation Of Time And Space), was released in 1993. I could see how this album might’ve gotten lost in the shuffle of the laid back beats of other hip hop groups in this mold: A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Black Sheep, etc. A lot of those artists had hookier hooks though, and I’d be much more inclined toward their albums than this one.
That’s not to say this album is completely without merit. If this album has a fault, it’s too laid back. There’s not a ton that goes on that distinguishes it from itself, or from the rest of the sample-based hip hop coming out in the early ’90s.
The album consists mostly of jazz samples over simple rhythms. Granted, that’s how you could describe a lot of early ’90s hip hop, but the way the samples are used here is just so low key as to not be memorable.
Again, immemorable is different than unenjoyable. There were songs here I liked, and after repeated listens, there were quite a few vocal passages I liked, or at least became more recognizable. For some reason (maybe the touchy subject matter of abortion), “La Femme Fatal” was the stand out as far as the lyricism went. But there were lots of other little instances of catchy vocal licks, like in “It’s Good To Be Here” and “Where I’m From.”
If you only have a cursory knowledge of this era of hip hop, there are plenty of other seminal records to go seek out. Reachin’ falls more into deep cuts territoy.
Top 3 Tunes:
- Where I’m From
- It’s Good To Be Here
- La Femme Fatal