Landing in 1993, Digable Planets' Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space), settled in on the consciousness of a large cross section of listeners ranging from alt-rockers, metal freaks, and headz worldwide. A surprise hit with the press and the general populace alike, Reachin' was released at the most opportune time of the '90s. The so-called alternative scene had just blown up in '91 and '92, so commercial radio was actually playing something close to variety and major labels were signing acts and developing them at an unprecedented level. Played on rock and urban stations, Digable Planets' debut represented an actual alternative to the masses who had grown up on Van Halen and Whitney Houston and, as a result, Digable Planets found themselves with a Top 20 single in "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)." In a lot ways the song paints the picture for the rest of the album with samples that are drenched in cool jazz and interlaced with smart catchy rhymes that move across the hip-hop spectrum of self-aggrandization and political awareness. The widespread appeal of Reachin' lies in Doodlebug, Ladybug Mecca, and Butterfly's smooth delivery. Never too excited but always passionate, they keep it going with seemingly lighthearted pieces like "Where I'm From." Here Butterfly almost falls into hip-hop stereotype by tripping on the theme of geographical location (see Paul's Boutique); but instead of really letting the listener know where they're from, they go into a chorus of "everywhere, everywhere" and thus really pointing out this record's underlying theme: under the hood of inventive beats and well-placed layered samples are the ideas and attitudes of universal and cosmic spirituality combined with personal-consciousness expansion that crosses geographical and ethnic boundaries. Easily one of the most successful hip-hop records ever made and a must-have selection in most any collection.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Sam Samuelson