Throwback Thursday-Black Ego by Digable Planets
Blowout Comb, the second and final album, by Digable Planets was becoming a bit of the Loch Ness Monster for me. I’d never heard it and all the testimonials of its greatness had me wondering how legit this underground reputation is. Well I have it now and I don’t think its testimonials do it justice. Blowout Comb is an album that leaves you bitterly unhappy at its commercial failure and the ultimate resulting loss of one of hip hop’s most talented groups. I understand that at the time it was tough to take seriously a group with two members known as Doodlebug and Butterfly (Ladybug Mecca is a dope name even for big Hilfiger jacket 90’s rap fans) and the lead single they are known for is Cool Like That(from the first album) which has the slick, jazzy, bohemian vibe to it. That’s the way they were marketed but if Blowout Comb dropped today it would be a damn revelation, it’s so intelligent not just in discussions of race and music but in the construction of its production (done by Digable Planets). It’s not soft music this is a song that declares “I have Brooklyn in my blood,” as well as a love of fat laces. Black Ego is intelligent but not trying to beat you over the head with it.
So why didn’t it succeed? The easy answer is that Blowout Comb didn’t have the great lead single it needed but c’mon…did To Pimp A Butterfly have that? The simple fact is that in 1995 the hip hop world largely missed the complexity, preferring more flashy flows and controversial gangsta rap. It should be an instructive lesson for us that when we demand more we have an obligation to keep our eyes all the way open so we can see it when it comes.