Digable Planets are an American alternative hip hop trio based in Brooklyn, New York, composed of Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler (from Seattle), Mary Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira (from Silver Spring, Maryland) and Craig “Doodlebug” Irving (from Philadelphia).
Butler and Irving met in Philadelphia in the late 1980s; Vieira and Irving had been a couple while attending Howard University. Originally from Seattle, Butler was interning at Sleeping Bag Records in New York and would visit his grandmother in Philadelphia where Irving was living and rapping with an outfit called the Dread Poets Society (later known as the 7 OD’s). The initial demos recorded under the name Digable Planets featured only Butler. After a brief stint with two other members, Butler began collaborating with Irving and Vieira in 1989.
In February 2005 the trio reunited and embarked on a reunion tour, which was followed by the release of a compilation album titled Beyond the Spectrum: The Creamy Spy Chronicles on October 15, 2005 that combined previously released material with remixes and B-sides.
Butler released Bright Black under the moniker Cherrywine in 2003 before going on to collaborate with multi-instrumentalist Tendai ‘Baba’ Maraire as Shabazz Palaces. In 2009 the duo self-released two EPs, Shabazz Palaces and Of Light before becoming the first Hip-hop act to be signed to Sub Pop Records. Their debut LP Black Up was released in 2011 followed by Lese Majesty in 2014, both to wide critical acclaim. Butler has also been signed to Sub Pop’s A&R division and is helping the label build its repertoire of artists that are ‘imaginative’ and ‘daring’. Butler and Maraire later collaborated with Hussein Kalonji as Chimurenga Renaissance to release riZe vadZimu riZe in March 2014 on Brick Lane Records.
Irving, also known as Cee Knowledge, tours with Cee Knowledge & the Cosmic Funk Orchestra and has released two albums in limited edition on FarmHouse Records.
Vieira (now known as Lady Mecca) released Trip The Light Fantastic in 2005 and has collaborated regularly with other musicians, notably on Legacy/Sony’s Billie Holiday Remixed and Reimagined album (on the song “Spreadin’ Rhythm Around”), Del tha Funkee Homosapien’s Eleventh Hour (on the song “I Got You”), and with hip-hop supergroup eMC on the song “The Show”. Vieira also contributed the voice of Tracey Triceratops on the Dino-5 children’s CD through Ropeadope Records as well as continuing to perform as DJ Lady Mecca.