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Live in LA

Photos by Wild Don Lewis

DIGABLE PLANETS, MARTIN LUTHER at House of Blues, June 20 You knew it was going to be a hot summer night’s gig when opener Martin Luther appeared with a pimplike white derby and electric guitar, ripping into a set of what he termed “rebel soul.” Yes, it would be a night of musical resistance, and funk-jazz resurrection, as underground heroes Digable Planets took the stage after a lengthy absence from the spotlight. “L.A., it’s been 10 years — it’s good to be back!” said Butterfly, greeting a diverse crowd. (I was standing next to a woman named Tiffany who went to Howard University with the Planets; on my other side stood Mr. Jazzmatazz himself, Guru from Gang Starr, who’s promoting his new album, Guru Version 7.0: The Street Scriptures.) Ladybug, with shoulder-length hair — decked out colorfully in a skirt, leggings and brown cowboy boots — joined Butterfly (in brown) and Cee Knowledge (formerly Doodlebug, in black), rocking the house with hits from their ultracool bebop/hop albums Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) and Blowout Comb: “Nickel Bags,” “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat),” “Dog It,” among others. Ladybug even busted into new stuff from her upcoming solo album, Trip the Light Fantastic — such as “Please Don’t,” which she dedicated to “the sisters” (including many Asian/Pacific Islanders and lovely lesbian couples in the house). On their last song of the night, the Planets changed the lyrics to “Pacifics” from “N.Y. is red hot!” to “L.A. is red hot!” My homeboy Sal, drenched in sweat, turned to me and said, “They’re like a drug, but it’s legal.”

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