December 01, 2008

Monday is for Music (2nd edition)

You know when you suddenly remember a band you used to listen to a decade ago and you go and find their music again and wow, it takes you right back to that time in your life - and surprisingly you still really like it?

This last week I was thinking of this group I used to listen to called Digable Planets. I first heard them in 1993, when I was introduced to them by my secret boyfriend and fellow theater major in college. He was a secret because I also had a boyfriend back in the town where I went to high school who I was trying to figure out how to break up with. (I was 18, my skills were lacking) So college boyfriend and I had these crazy adventures all over town made even more adventurous by our "secret status" and he was always introducing me to music I had never heard of as we would jam out and dance our butts off in my dorm room.

Then I ran off, after one year at college and moved to Denver, where my father was living. I had broken it off with high school boyfriend and college boyfriend and I were on the way out as well. I fell in with this group of hipster hippy funky friends who also listened to the Digable Planets and formed all new memories of dancing and laughing with this new group and of course, getting high. I felt so cool and free and the music seemed to match this new season of my life.

But after a year in Denver I took off yet again and drove across the country to move to Chicago. I had never been there, never met anyone there, and had only a few hundred bucks to my name. But within a very short time I was settled in and again had fallen in with an eclectic and diverse bunch of friends who embodied the full energy and creativity of the city. Some of these friends were poets, as was I. And we would ride the train up and down through the city and sit in dark smoky coffeehouses, coming up with new works for our spoken word performances and slam poetry competitions. Some wrote rap-inspired rhymes, others wrote free flowing verses, but no matter what, when you took to the stage you had to have rhythm. There too, I heard the sounds of Digable Planets and other rap/jazz/funk/ hip hop infused music. I heard it in my friends' apartments, I heard it wafting up from basement dance clubs along the street, heard it in dusty coffee houses, heard it spilling out of car windows as I walked past.

So, this week I pulled up some DPs on Pandora Radio and on You Tube and I was simultaneously taken through all three seasons in my life where they played a part in the soundtrack. I remembered dancing awkwardly in a dorm room in Albuquerque, sitting around at a house party in Denver, swaying to the beat, and walking into dark underground jazz clubs in Chicago to dance the night away and afterward run home and transform it all into something I would read later that week on stage, borrowing from the rhythms of the music I was enveloped in nights before.

There is a certain energy in their music, in their rhymes, that is indescribable. They are poetry, they are hip hop, they are life being lived, they are cool, smooth, and hip. They are real.

I am including a You Tube video here for one of their most popular songs - so you have likely heard this before. The setting of the video itself reminds me a lot of being at the famous Greenmill in Chicago every Sunday to perform spoken word and compete in slam poetry, it reminds me of the women's spoken word group I helped form and performed in at coffeehouses and bars throughout the city, and it also reminds me of the funk band I was briefly a part of in Chicago and the small stages and clubs we would perform at - the band's funky bass-laden rhythms laying down under my voice as I sang or spoke my words at the mic. But I could never really hope to be as cool as these three - even now, more than a decade later I watch this video in awe ...... check it out:

( and also? Poblano seems to LOVE this music!)

Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)

we like the breeze floats straight out of our lids
them they got moved by these hard rock brooklyn kids
us floor rush when the dj’s boomin classics
you dig the crew on the fattest hip hop record
he touch the kinks and sinks into the sounds
she frequents the fatter joints called undergrounds
our funk zooms like you hit the mary jane
they flock to booms man boogie had to change
who freaks the clips with mad amount percussion
where kinky hair goes to unthought of dimensions
why’s it so fly cause hip hop kept some drama
when butterfly rock the light blue suede pumas
what by the cut we push it off the corner
how was the buzz entire hip hop era
was fresh and fat since they started sayin outtie
cause funks made fat from right beneath my hoodie
the puba of the styles like miles and shit
like sixties funky worms wit waves and perms
just sendin chunky rhythms right down your block
we be to rap what key be to lock

but i’m cool like dat
i’m cool like dat
i’m cool like dat
i’m cool like dat
i’m cool like dat
i’m cool like dat
i’m cool like dat
i’m cool

we be the chocolates taps on my raps
she innovates at the sweeter cat naps
he at the funk club with the vibrate
them they be crazy down with the five nate
it can kick a plan then a crowst burst
me i be diggin it with the bug verse
us we be freakin till dawn beats and i
he yes a stranger smile so i say hi (wassup)
who understood, yeah, understood the plans?
him heard a beat and put it to his hands
what i just flip let borders get loose
how to consume all the beats just like juice
if its the shit we’ll lift it off the plastic
the babe’ll go spastic
hip hop gains a classic
pimp player shark it don’t matter i’m fatter
ask butter how i zone

man, cleopatra jones

and i’m chill like dat
i’m chill like dat
i’m chill like dat
i’m chill like dat
i’m chill like dat
i’m chill like dat
i’m chill like dat
i’m chill (chill)

blink, blink, blink, blink, blink
think, think, think, think, think

we get you free cause the clips be fat boss
them dug the jams that commence to goin off
she sweats the beats and ask me could she puff it
me i got crew kid, seven and a crescent
us cause a buzz when the nickel bags a dealt
him that’s my man with the asteroid belt
they catch a fizz from the mr. doodlebig
he rocks a tee from the crooklyn nine pigs
rebirth of slick like my gangster stroll
the lyrics just like loot come in stacks and rolls
you used to find the bug in a box with fade
now he boogies up your stage plaits twist the braids

and i’m peace like that
i’m peace like that
i’m peace like that
i’m peace like that
i’m peace like that
i’m peace like that
i’m peace like that
i’m pace

check it out, man i groove like that
i’m smooth like that
i jive like that
i roll like that

yeah, i’m thick like that
i stack like that
i’m down like that
i’m black like that

well yo, i funk like that
i’m fat like that
i’m in like that
cause i swing like that

we jazz like that
we freak like that
we zoom like that
we out (we out)


annacyclopedia said...

Wow, Spicy. We must be psychically linked - I was just thinking about the Digable Planets the other day! Always fun to revisit those sounds that are so firmly linked to a time or place in our lives.

The Muser (aka Beautiful Mama) said...

Love this post! Your words and memories are beautiful, wild, full. Thanks for sharing. :)

Denise said...

I definitely remember that song. Can't say I've heard much by them other than that. Thanks for the small glimpse into your prior lives!

Manic Mama said...

Love that song. Duffy- I saw on myspace that you were knocked up! YAY! I remember way back on baby center when I was TTC with Maggie that you were as well. I just had my second. A baby boy named Ben. I blog as well at I am so so happy for you and this joy that has come into your life. Enjoy the next few weeks of you time. Go to the movies! Best- Becky