Digable Planets Predicted This Week’s Supreme Court Decision 30 Years Ago
On Friday morning (June 24, 2022), the United States Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, eliminating the Constitutional right to an abortion after nearly 50 years. In a 6-3 ruling, the presiding court reversed a decision made in 1973. “Roe was egregiously wrong from the start,” Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote in one of the most controversial rulings in more than a quarter-century. The latest decision puts access to abortion in the hands of the States; bans in eight states took effect immediately following the rule.
As the world reacts, including public protests and demonstrations across much of America, the development was prophecized nearly 30 years ago. On their 1993 debut album, the Digable Planets made “La Femme Fetal.” At a time when women’s rights have been compromised by the federal court—affecting millions—the Reachin’ (A New Refutation Of Time And Space) album cut deserves reconsideration.
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In the Planets’ clever, coded language, the song begins with Butterfly recounting a call he received from a female friend. At her place, the account continues, “And there was Nikki / Lookin’ some kind of sad with tears fallin’ from her eyes / She sat me down, and dug my frown and began to run it down / ‘You remember my boyfriend Sid, that fly kid who I love? / Well, our love was often a verb and spontaneity has brought a third / But due to our youth and economic state, we wish to terminate / About this we don’t feel great, but baby, that’s how it is / But the feds have dissed me / They ignored and dismissed me / The pro-lifers harass me outside the clinic / And call me a murderer, now that’s hate / So needless to say, we’re in a mental state of debate.’” Citing economic impact, Nikki tells Ish why her and her partner cannot support the child, but are facing grave pressures from male outsiders—including institutionally. The conversation addresses sexism and classism involved in such a decision.
The song, modeled after a conversation, continues with Ish, now of Shabazz Palaces, responding “‘Hey, beautiful bird,’ I said, digging her somber mood / The fascists are some heavy dudes / They don’t really give a damn about life / They just don’t want a woman to control her body / Or have the right to choose / But baby that ain’t nothin’ / They just want a male finger on the button / Because if you say war, they will send them to die by the score / Aborting mission should be your volition / But if Souter and Thomas have their way, you’ll be standing in line unable to get welfare while they’ll be out
hunting and fishing / It has always been around, it will always have a niche / But they’ll make it a privilege / Not a right, accessible only to the rich / Hey, pro-lifers need to dig themselves / Because life doesn’t stop after birth / And for a child born to the unprepared / It might even just get worse / The situation would surely change, if they were to find themselves in it / Supporters of the H-Bomb, and fire-bombing clinics / What type of sh*t is that? Orwellian, in fact / If Roe v. Wade was overturned, would not the desire remain intact / Leaving young girls to risk their healths / And doctors to botch, and watch as they kill themselves / Now, I hate to sound macabre / But hey, isn’t it my job / To lay it on the masses and get them off their asses / To fight against these fascists / So, whatever you decide, make that move with pride / Sid will be there and so will I / An insect ’til I die.”
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In 1993, Butterfly predicted the possibility of Roe v. Wade being overturned and the devastating aftermath. The Hip-Hop song argues that while “pro-life” advocates for living things, many with that belief use death and violence in other aspects of their belief systems. “Life doesn’t stop after birth,” proclaims the MC/producer, in step with many of those hurt, upset, and compromised by this week’s events. The verse also points to health risks, including those associated with dangerous, illegal abortions.
In the poetic outro, Ish also offered some profound thoughts: “Rhythms and sounds / Spinning around / Confrontations / Across the nation / Your block / My block / Dreadlocks / What a shock / Land of the free / But not me, not me.“
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The gold-certified debut, Reachin’ (A New Refutation Of Time And Space), may often be remembered for its hit, “Rebirth Of Slick (Cool Like Dat),” but the Pendulum/Elektra Records packs a far more insightful punch in this deeper cut.
The Digable Planets are currently touring and well-aware of their nearly 30-year-old prophecy:
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