Digable Planets, Friday, July 27, 8:30 p.m., South Broadway, Denver, theums.com.
verything that rises must converge. During the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, hip-hop appeared increasingly eclectic: Eric B. & Rakim featured Yemenite singer Ofra Haza on their “Paid in Full” remix. Gang Starr rapper Guru was given complete access to Blue Note Records’ jazz vaults. And a Philadelphia trio named Digable Planets released “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat),” a mindfully mellow bohemian-rap single that lived up to its title. And then, just when it appeared commercial hip-hop was becoming strikingly unpredictable, pop acts like The Black Eyed Peas and The Fugees successfully seized the beat, followed in short order by endlessly replicating strains of vocoder-toting gangstas. Except not entirely. Hip-hop, like most everything else in our post-quantum culture, is a pendulum that can swing in more than one direction at the same time: Atmosphere sells out Red Rocks, Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly
is the most musically sophisticated album of this past decade, and, yes, a reunited Digable Planets are among the headliners on the opening night of Denver’s three-day Underground Music Showcase
, where they’ll be performing alongside Alvvays, Frankie Cosmos, and more than a hundred other relative newcomers. In other news, for the first time since Denver Post
critic Ricardo Baca founded the festival back in 2001, the city’s answer to SXSW is no longer associated with the daily newspaper. But then again, who is?