Finding The GOAT Group: The Fugees vs. Digable Planets. Who Is Better?
“Finding the GOAT Group,” the fourth installment of Ambrosia For Heads’s annual battle series features Hip-Hop’s greatest collectives vying for the #1 spot. Sixty-two groups have been pre-selected by a panel of experts, and one slot will be reserved for a wild-card entry, including the possibility for write-in candidates, to ensure no deserving band of MCs and DJs is neglected. The 2018 contest consists of seven rounds, NCAA basketball-tournament style, leading to a Top 32, then the Sweet 16 and so on, until one winner is determined. For each battle, two groups are pitted against one another with a ballot to decide which one advances to the next round. Though there will be an enormous amount of debate in comments, on social media, in barbershops and text messages, which we encourage, only votes cast in the official ballot or those using the official hashtags on social media count.
The next battle is between two trios consisting of two men and lady. The Fugees and Digable Planets combated the Gangsta Rap boom with genre-bending sounds that ultimately found a mainstream embrace. Notably, each act only released two proper full-lengths, making this match-up all the more interesting. Only one goes to Round 2, and your vote may be the deciding factor.
In the early 1990s, The Fugees (Formerly known as Tranzlator Crew) formed in South Orange, New Jersey. Members Lauryn Hill, Wyclef Jean, and Pras Michel produced a sound that fused elements of Hip-Hop, Soul, and Reggae, all at once. After demos and shows, the trio signed to Ruffhouse/Columbia Records. In 1994, their debut album Blunted On Reality was released. The album was panned, but subsequent remixes showed flashes of the sound and chemistry that would dominate the following two years. After missing the Top 200 in 1994, ’96’s The Score is a chart-topping centerpiece in Hip-Hop’s mainstream boom. Four singles, two Grammys, and reportedly 22 million albums sold worldwide, and The Score was settled to put the Refugee Camp in the GOAT conversation. Few could have ever imagined the moment would serve as the trio’s last full-length. By 1998, the group would eventually split into three successful solo careers. Two reunion appearances and one sanctioned reunion track in 2005 and The Fugees remain a beloved Hip-Hop act that seemingly pulled the plug too soon.
During the Gangsta Rap boom of the 1990s, a mild-mannered trio emerged on the music scene with a smoky Jazz style. Digable Planets consist of Seattle, Washington’s Ishmael “Butterfly” Butler and East Coast MCs Mary-Ann “Ladybug Mecca” Vieira and Craig “Cee Knowledge” Irving (fka Doodlebug). The group’s debut album Reachin’ (A New Refutation of Time and Space) was released on Pendulum/Elektra Records in 1993. The lead single “Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like That)” became a gold-certified hit that eventually earned the group a Grammy. Digable’s fusion of Jazz and Hip-Hop broadened the culture’s reach, as expressed on their second LP, Blowout Comb, in 1994. As is the case with many Hip-Hop groups, Heads often contest that the lesser-selling album may be the better work. While the Planets are still in orbit on the road today (and releasing live albums), the catalog seemingly remains sealed. Today, the three members record with other acts, including Ish’s role in Shabazz Palaces, Mecca’s position in BROOKZILL!, and Irving’s Cee Knowledge & The Cosmic Funk Orchestra, respectively.
So who is the better Hip-Hop group? Make sure you vote above.