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Formed in 1987, and comprised of members Craig “Doodlebug” Irving, Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and Mariana “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira, Philly based Hip Hop collective Digable Planets exploded onto the music scene with their gold certified Pendulum / Elektra Records debut, Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space), spawning a trio of singles; “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat),” “Where I’m From” and “Nickel Bags,” in February 1993. 

Their then highly anticipated follow-up, Blowout Comb, arrived in the fall of ‘94…


You all recently embarked on The Roots’ “Hip-Hop Is the Love of My Life Tour,” alongside Arrested Development — How did this opportunity even present itself to you all?

We had the honor of being invited to perform on the Grammys televised celebration of Hip Hop’s 50th Anniversary in November of 2023 hosted by Questlove and LL Cool J. During the taping of the show, we reconnected with a lot of our friends in the music biz who expressed interest in working with us and the idea to perform together was born from there. Quest and Black Thought followed through on the idea, and reached out to our management to invite us on their summer tour!

For the fans, what all exactly can be expected? What do you all have in store with your upcoming performance(s)?

This will be a full fledged (The) Roots show performing all their hits, and during their set they will bring us and Arrested Development out on stage to perform some of our tunes with The Roots band!

I know there have been other shows, as well as spot dates, but are there any plans in place to release new Digable music?

We have seriously been talking about doing new music together, but haven’t as yet actually done it.

Reflecting, tell me your whole inception into music — When did you first become interested? And how did it all begin for you?

My initial influences were sparked by the music that my mom played throughout the house when I was growing up. She exposed me to all types of music from Jazz, Soul, R&B, Rock ‘n’ Roll to Reggae. My cousins, sister and I would get together and play vinyl records of our favorite artists and pretend we were them putting on fake concerts where we would all act out as members of the band and sing along! Eventually I started taking music lessons for guitar and piano at the Settlement Music School on Germantown Avenue for a little while and once I got older and started making some money I saved up and bought myself some turntable equipment which took me down a road that I’m still traveling to this day.

Now you’re a native of Philly, PA, correct? So growing up in the ‘City of Brotherly Love,’ who all influenced you?

Yes, I was born and raised in Philadelphia during the ‘70’s on the 7500 block of Forrest Avenue…I grew up listening to and idolizing Gamble and Huff our hometown heroes! In terms of Hip Hop I was specifically influenced by my neighborhood heroes like MC Parry P and DJ Cosmic Kev who led a sound system called Grandmasters of Funk. They would rock all the block parties in our ‘hood and my friends and I would follow them around and absorb game from these geniuses. I was also lucky enough to witness Schoolly D, MC Breeze, Jazz Fresh, Will Smith, Tuff Crew, Robbie B, EST and so many others set a standard in emceeing that laid a foundation for me to build off. Let’s not even talk about the deejays like Spinbad, Grandwizard Rasheen, Cash Money, Jazzy Jeff, Kid Swift, Miz, Tat Money and others who helped trailblaze turntabilism.

Initially, how did you manage to link up with both Butterfly and Ladybug Mecca in order to form Digable Planets?

I met Ladybug first when I was attending Howard University in Washington DC. While there I immersed myself into the local Hip Hop scene where I met many people that I still consider fam to this day and Mecca is one of them. She and I became close friends and not long after I met Ishmael through mutual friends. Ish and I got real cool because of our similar interests in music, basketball and philosophy. At the time I was in a group called the Dred Poets Society and he was developing his new group called the Digable Planets. He asked me to work with him on the group and in turn I brought my friend Mecca along for the ride.

What particular string of events actually led to your then signing with Pendulum Records?

At the time Ishmael was interning at Sleeping Bag Records in New York City and used the connects he made working there to try and shop the DP demo. Dozens of rejections later the demo falls into the lap of Dennis Wheeler [RIP] A&R rep at this up and coming label called Pendulum Records who falls in love with the music and convinces label founder / owner Ruben Rodriguez [RIP] to meet with us. Ish calls me and tells me to get Mek and get up to NY for this meeting so I’m super excited and nervous not knowing what to expect. We get there and meet all the top dawgs at the label and then we go into Ruben’s office where he asks us questions and then requests for us to perform in front of him which we do and we must’ve wowed him in some way because he offered us a deal and the rest is history.

Switching gears here, what exactly do you want people to get from your music?

I want people to get a good feeling when they listen to our music and open their minds to a whole new world of sound and rhythm that is both familiar and strange.

If you could collaborate with any one artist, living or dead, who would it be and why?

There’s so many artists living and dead that I respect and it’s hard to pinpoint one but I guess I’ll have to say the producer Prince Paul would be my choice because I love how he’s willing to experiment with different sounds to create his music and dive deep into the concept of a project no matter how anti-establishment it is!

If you could play any venue in the world, which one would you choose and why?

One of my favorite venues to perform at is the Saturn in Birmingham, Alabama, because of the great sound and the intimate settings make it a perfect place to experience live music as a fan and performer. The staff at Saturn pays attention to the small details that make performing there as an artist so fun especially the backstage area that’s set up like an artist’s clubhouse with places to lounge, listen to music, watch TV, eat good food and private sleepover areas just in case you need a place to crash!

On a more serious note, are you happy with the current state of Hip Hop?

I love Hip Hop always have and always will but I must say in my humble opinion the current state of Hip Hop is in flux because it seems like this generation is desperately seeking to establish its identity and relevance in the mainstream music world which helps bring more money but I personally think helps to degrade the cultural significance of our music. There was a time when Hip Hop stood for something and its underground leanings gave it an edge that most musical genres didn’t have…when Hip Hop gets back to not caring about what mainstream radio is doing is when I think we will get back to making that raw uncut!

What do you feel has and will continue to be the key to your longevity?

I think the key to my group’s longevity was our commitment to being original and not following any trends. We came out during the hey day of the G-Funk Era and instead of doing what everyone else expected we stuck to our guns and stayed unapologetically true to who we were and that resonated well with a fan-base eager for fresh new voices and sounds!

Do you have any other outside / additional (future) aspirations, maybe even completely away from music?

Besides music I’ve always had a lifelong love for comic books. I have been collecting comics since a little kid growing up in Philadelphia. I used to write and draw my own comic book characters and dream of one day creating my own series. It took longer than I expected but I’m finally in a position to make that happen for myself. Recently, my business partner P.T. Swope and I have self published a graphic novel we call “The Epic of the Heaven and Earth Association” and plan on publishing a series of these books in the near future. The Epic documents the struggles of the Afronauts’ abduction from the 7th Dimension to a commercial wasteland known as Planet Supermarket. Despite the brutality, plagues, and addictions imposed on the Afronauts by Wretchin, they survive by decoding messagology which is transmitted from the 7th Dimension by the Council of Monks, supreme custodians of the 12 Jewels…to find out more go to our website and purchase your copy today.

To date, what has been your biggest career moment(s), at least thus far anyway?

We have accomplished a few feats in the music business that I never thought was attainable like going gold and platinum, touring around the world multiple times, being nominated for two Grammy Awards; winning one and performing at the awards show…but one of my most memorable moments was when we toured with James Brown and Guru’s Jazzmatazz in South America and also when we were asked to open for the great Sade!

What’s an average day like for you?

An average day for me starts with morning exercise and getting my kids together for the day…running errands and on a lucky day I’ll get some free time to myself where I’ll read or write or plan out my next projects…just boring ordinary stuff, lol.

Please discuss how you interact with and respond to fans…

The fans are an intricate part of this situation and without the fans who support the movement there would be nothing to talk about. I do my best to respond and interact with my fans on social media and when I see them attending our shows I go out of my way to thank them.

What is your favorite part about this line of work? Your least favorite? And, why?

My favorite part of my job is the creative process – writing, producing and recording music – and also performing live shows…my least favorite is doing interviews and having to answer the same questions over and over again!

Looking ahead, say five or maybe even ten years from now, where do you see yourself?

I try to stay present in the moment and not worry too much about what the future holds because I believe that if I’m focused on what I’m doing right now and put my best foot forward then the future will work itself out. I do hope that in the future I’m able to be in a position to help up and coming artists and more importantly leave a legacy behind that my children and grandchildren can be proud of!

As for the immediate, what’s next for Doodlebug?

Speaking of being in the present I’m currently about to kick off a major summer tour with my Dig Plan comrades around the world and we will also be doing shows this summer along with The Roots and Arrested Development in select cities…I also plan on releasing new music this year and my second graphic novel.

Lastly, “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)” is a bonafide Hip Hop classic — How did this particular composition come about? Who came up with its concept? And, please describe for me the overall studio vibes on that fateful day?

The “Rebirth of Slick” was one of our biggest records and the concept was created by my bandmate Butterfly. The original sample was used in a demo song called “Skin Treatment” that my solo group Dred Poets Society produced but never released it. When I met Ish a.k.a. Butterfly I let him hear our demo and he loved it. He eventually invited me to join his group that he was developing called Digable Planets and asked if it was possible we could use that Art Blakey sample that was utilized for “Skin Treatment.” He took that sample and flipped it into the classic rap tune that we all recognize today as “Rebirth of Slick (Cool like Dat).”

Is there anything I left out or just plain forgot to mention?

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your platform and helping to spread the word on DPs and my other solo ventures…if anyone is interested in staying in touch please hit me up on IG: @officialdoodlebug or @planetsdigable or @epicheavenearth…Twitter/ X: @ceeknowledge or @digableplanets or @epicheavenearth. Our website: officialdigableplanets.com.

New Music from Cee Knowledge and the CFO available now at:




Craig “Doodlebug” Irving, a.k.a. Cee Knowledge [Digable Planets]: Still Cool Like Dat #HH50

Craig “Doodlebug” Irving, a.k.a. Cee Knowledge [Digable Planets]: Still Cool Like Dat #HH50

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