3Mar/1124

Digable Planets “The Art Of Easing”

Stream: Digable Planets “The Art Of Easing”

Guru’s “Loungin'” portrayed the act of coolin’ out to mellow music as a therapeutic form of recreation shortly after Digable Planets’ own “Rebirth of Slick” drew a line connecting the bop and splendor of the great jazz players to the swagger and lingo of new school rappers. In his early career, Guru, presumably inspired by KRS-One’s advocacy of the rapper as an enlightened teacher of humanist philosophy, was an ardent champion of a rap version of “the life of the mind.” The second Gang Starr album Step In The Arena theorizes a a tough love teaching approach, whereby vanquished contenders humbly take on the role of students, contributing to their self-improvement by gradually mastering the superior poetic techniques and ethics of a victorious instructor. The Digable Planets debut  Reachin’ was less committed to didacticism but similarly committed to espousing thoughtfulness as the eminent attribute of a respected emcee.

When Guru branched off into his first Jazzmatazz project, he downplayed the competitive aspect of this process, opening enrollment to his new agey seminar on blissful living to anyone who could get down with the tepid blend of retro-funk, hip hop, and soul-jazz he pushed. Between their Reachin’ and their sophomore effort Blowout Comb, Digable Planets made a move that was nearly opposite, graduating from a Native Tongue inspired program of mind expansion into a politically militant, metaphorically dense lyrical style. Guru’s Jazzmatazz production is understated —almost to the point of soporific— in comparison to DJ Premier’s work on the Gang Starr albums. Blowout Comb, however is funkier and in its own way sharper  and more aggressive than Reachin’.

Even though some songs on Blowout Comb are laid back and almost ethereal, the sophisticated rhetoric of the lyrics gives the music an extra palpable force. This is nowhere more evident than on “The Art Of Easing.”

While other songs on Blowout Comb pulse with urgency or blur into a twisted lullaby haze, “The Art Of Easing” is smooth and complex, and announces itself quite literally as such in its opening ad-libs, risking a descent into self-parody. Helmed by nearly any other rap group, the song might be written off as overly slick or cool, but the sitar (or guitar played to sound like a sitar?) sounds lend an initially jarring but ultimately satisfying quirkiness to the sample of the swanky opening bars of Bobbi Humphrey’s “Blacks and Blues.”

From the outset you know that this isn’t your typical Digable joint, let alone your everyday rap song; Cee Know and Mecca are on hand to deliver a few short bursts of rhymes that bookend Ish’s verses, as if humbly helping to focus the listener’s attention on their brother’s elaborate summation of the group’s interests and obsessions. Mecca’s celebratory outro leads into Ish’s version of a military briefing, in which we are encouraged to pursue temporary uniformity of purpose without sacrificing individuality by mixing and matching camo and ‘Lo.

Cee Know eases into his part, performing a stripped-down version of the type of verses Ish kicks throughout the album, announcing plainly but effectively that “the feeling’s right/ the music’s tight.” Ish takes us on a journey through the five boroughs, but he is not describing carefree carousal or posturing for its own sake; his limp, his stance, his Timberlands,  his army suit, etc. exist within the living folds of New York City’s black history, within an order he imagines. He voyages through New York City to trace cultural roots that the ’89 school of rap linked all the way back to Africa.

Ish pleads his fellow New Yorkers to ease up, to stop and contemplate the present as a condition rooted in a past that for better or for worse has never been shaken off, right where we stand, right now, where Malcolm X once stood. The progression from chattel slavery to national consciousness (“Imported onto ships with irons around the fist/ graduate to afros, black cats, and fist picks”) is not a minor feat entombed in yellowing parchment. Easing is not the act of a self-indulgent spa goer, nor is represented by a stuffy buttoned down bourgeois affair or the frivolous stroll of youth. The complexity announced at the beginning of the song takes the shape of a verbal jaunt across epochs of cultural assertion and resistance; double and triple meanings point to an active, muscular mind at play.

Growing up in Seattle’s Central District, Ish learned about jazz and black power from his older relatives, and eventually incorporated the imagery and vernacular of these movements into the new school rap styles he knew to be just as expressive and magnetic. As he saw it, he subversive genius of black music and slang wasn’t cryptically exclusive, merely layered and lived-in. You do not have to be aware of the 5%er Supreme Alphabet to understand that “old earth gave me kisses to her culture power records” is some fly shit to say right after “freedom had a pistol” (think 45 rpm and .45 caliber) but if you take the time to flesh out the entire meaning at your leisure, worlds upon worlds open up. — Thun

Tags: , , ,

---------------------------------------------------------------

25 Responses to “Digable Planets “The Art Of Easing””

  1. Great analysis, Thunny. Digable Planets are one of my favorite groups ever, and their two albums are some of the most original hip-hop records I’ve ever heard. On some days I find myself preferring DPs to the Native Tongues, although I love both so I shouldn’t really say that.
    “Why?! That’s most asked by eighty-five.”

  2. Teddy C.D. says:

    Shit, that was me… Teddy-the-Bear is something else. LOL.

  3. […] Digable Planets “The Art Of Easing” by Thun […]

  4. Coleman says:

    I do agree with all of the ideas you’ve presented in your post. They’re very convincing and will definitely work. Still, the posts are too short for beginners. Could you please extend them a bit from next time? Thanks for the post.

  5. Johanna says:

    Greetings from Los angeles! I’m bored at work so I decided to browse your website on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the info you provide here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m surprised at how fast your blog loaded on my phone .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, very good site!

  6. Omer says:

    There are some attention-grabbing cut-off dates on this article however I don’t know if I see all of them middle to heart. There’s some validity but I’ll take maintain opinion till I look into it further. Good article , thanks and we want extra! Added to FeedBurner as nicely

  7. Terrific work! This is the type of info that should be shared around the web. Shame on the search engines for not positioning this post higher! Come on over and visit my web site . Thanks =)

  8. There are great modifications on the style of the webpage, I honestly like that. Mine is on the subject of kik desktop and presently there are quite a lot of stuff to do, I’m yet still a rookie in website design. Take good care!

  9. 196.168 ll says:

    I just arrived over here via a different web address on the subject of router options and considered I should look at this. I quite like what I see thus now I”m following you. Looking forward to checking out the website all over again.

  10. It was great to read this and I believe you are absolutely correct. Tell me in the event that you are considering garageband windows download, that is my major competency. I am hoping to see you in the near future, cheers!

  11. Hi there! I just discovered your site and I truly love it. I also want to focus on medical malpractice sometimes. Good to be here, thanks a lot!

  12. You’re absolutely right. I really liked looking through this and I will return for more as quick as possible. Our site is on the subject of amazon fire starter apk, you can take a peek if you are interested in this.

  13. click here says:

    Hi there I am truly delighted I found this site, I basically found you by accident, while I was searching on Digg for facetime free app. Regardless I am here now and would just enjoy to say thanks for a fantastic blog post and the all-round thrilling blog (I too enjoy the design), I do not have enough time to read it completely at the minute though I have bookmarked it and also included the RSS feed, so once I have enough time I will be returning to read a lot more. Please do maintain the great work.

  14. read more says:

    Hello there could you let me know which platform you’re working with? I’m looking to get started with my own site on how to copy photos from iphone to pc in the near future yet I am having a hard time making a choice.

  15. click here says:

    You’re absolutely right, I’d really like to know new info on this issue! I am as well fascinated by framaroot apk since I consider it’s very cool now. Thanks.

  16. read more says:

    You’re entirely right. I liked reading through this article and I will return for more as quick as possible. Our website is about framaroot pc, you might take a peek if you happen to be still interested in this.

  17. Hi! I just came across this site and I certainly enjoy it. I also like to speak about omega xl for joint pain sometimes. Good to be around, bless you!

  18. Thank you for sharing this, I bookmarked this webpage. I’m also seeking out material about mobile number tracker with current location, are you aware exactly where I could find a thing such as that? I’ll return in the future!

  19. There are actually amazing modifications on the style of your website, I really enjoy that. Mine is about mobile number search and certainly, there are lots of stuff to do, I am yet still a newbie in web development. Thanks!

  20. Thank you, I have recently been searching for information about this topic for ages and yours is the best I’ve discovered till now. But, what about the bottom line? Are you sure about the source?

  21. پنجره says:

    I was speaking with a friend of mine around this and even about white upvc windows as well. I feel you made a few very good points in this article, we are looking forward to continue reading material from you.

  22. karaj says:

    whoah this weblog is excellent i really like reading your posts. Stay up the great work! You recognize, a lot of persons are searching round for this information, you can help them greatly.

  23. My spouse and I really love your website and find a lot of your blog posts to be just what I am interested in. Do you offer guest writers to create content for you? I would not mind writing an article on Arvind Pandit Kansas or even on a few of the topics you write about on this page. Cool website!

  24. You’re absolutely right. I liked reviewing this and I will certainly come back for more straight away. My own website is on bluestacks free download, you can have a look if you are still interested in that.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *