Digable Planets charmed most of the known world in 1993 with their ultragroovy rap single “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)”; that song and its accompanying album, Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), combined sweet melodies and daring, bebop-based instrumentation with a pretty devastating upbraiding of gangsta rap through gentle moods, delightful wordplay, and hooks hooks hooks. Not only were the Digables not as big and tough as the big bad gangstas, they were admittedly insects, the band’s three creators blithely naming themselves Doodlebug, Butterfly, and Ladybug. With Arrested Development, PM Dawn, Me Phi Me, and a few others, they seemed to be amassing for an alternative rap takeover. But a year and a half on, the genre’s force has been blunted by sophomore slump, and the Digable Planets are no exception. Their second album, Blowout Comb, is meandering and indulgent: noodling reigns supreme, guitar riffs riff for hours, a guest (Jeru the Damaja) contributes little, and while the album is not without a hook or two, these provide only temporary relief. Live, however, the band is still enormous fun. They base their sound on acoustic instruments, including stand-up bass, and do their best to rock the house. Saturday, 7 PM and midnight, Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): Photo/Daniela Federici.