We like the breeze flow straight out of our lids
Them they got moved by these hard-rock Brooklyn kids
Us floor rush when the DJ’s booming classics
You, dig the crew on the fattest hip-hop records
Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat) – Digable Planets
Back in May, the Digable Planets were scheduled to appear at the Howard Theatre in Washington D.C. I scrambled to pull together a new drawing, and just as I finished up, the concert was canceled. I’m not sure what happened, but the elusive trio quickly announced a new date – September 21, 2017. While it was many months away, I circled the day on my calendar. I put the drawing in my studio closet, knowing that it would be ready, if they came through.
The summer flew by, and work started up again. I was cautiously optimistic that the show would happen this time around. I started posting the drawing on social media, always including my favorite Digable lyrics and enthusiastically announcing the show to anyone who would listen.
My persistence was rewarded when Doodlebug Irving, one-third of the Grammy-winning trio, retweeted and ‘liked’ the new work. It was good to know that he had seen it, and knew I was coming to the show. The lead-up to the concert was going well.
The night of the show, I walked down U Street, and stopped by the Paul Robeson mural. It’s still a bit surreal, knowing that I was a part of that endeavor. I never tire of admiring the work that was accomplished with that crew. It was a beautiful evening, and I was getting anxious to see the show. I double-backed and headed to the venue to secure my ticket.
As I neared the box office, I was pleasantly surprised to hear that friends Malcolm and Meriem would be joining me. It was shaping up to be a memorable time.
The show was kicked off by a musical act that captured the sound of Amy Winehouse, and stirred the growing crowd into an anxious frenzy. We were all ready to hear Digable Planets perform some of our favorite tracks.
When they took the stage, Butterfly, Doodlebug, and Ladybug Mecca generated a magical blend of Hip-Hop and Jazz. Their sound was unique and clean, and we all floated along with the beats and the catchy lyrics. I got lost in the sounds, and fell in love with their chemistry, all over again. Where I’m From, remains a favorite, and I’m thrilled that I was present to hear them perform it live.
“Food for thought so get a buffet plate
The lyrics are so phat you might gain weight”
After the show, we made our way back stage. We saw a small crowd of people at the top of the stairs, and realized that Butterfly was there, taking pictures and chatting up a few people. Wordlessly, he tagged the artwork, and posed for a few more flicks.
Although there was one manager I didn’t know, our path was unobstructed. We went downstairs, and reached the last door in the hallway. We rapped lightly on the door, and without waiting for an answer, pushed it open. Half expecting to be turned away, or reprimanded for walking in, I was surprised to hear greetings of welcome. On the far side of the small dressing room, was Doodlebug. I hoisted the drawing to eye-level, and that’s when he saw it. “Oh, wow! Finally! Andy Katz! Man, it’s nice to finally meet you!”. With a big grin and a hug, he instantly made me feel at home. He signed the drawing, with lyrics from Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat) – “Me I got crew kids seven and a crescent”.
He added a little crown, and we passed the drawing around for pictures. When it was our turn, he put his arm around me, and said “Andy Katz in the mother-fuckin’ house!”. It was a great moment. I’ll never take it for granted that these musical heroes know who I am. Malcolm presented his Autobiography of Malcolm X, and asked Doodlebug to tag the first pages. It’s an impressive collection, and even better idea. Malcolm is amassing these signatures for his son, and I love to witness the interactions when he puts the book in front of these unsuspecting celebrities.
It was time to search for Ladybug, and we left with a ton of gratitude in our wake. By the time we reached the top of the stairs, it was evident that she was there. Standing on the landing between the exit door and the stairs, she spoke softly and respectfully to each fan. Patiently, I waited until I could hold up the drawing. I sidled up next to her, and I had my opportunity:
So elegant and classy. I was a bit worried that she got graphite smudges on her hand, and she softly said “I’ll live”. I was so impressed by her grace and warmth. I’m already looking forward to seeing them all again.
Mission: Digable Planets – Accomplished.
Thanks, Butterfly, Ladybug, and Doodlebug. I will be back. – AK