Digable Planets embodied the “internet-cool aesthetic” before the internet was a thing. Their effortlessly charismatic approach to music landed them the No.15 spot on the Billboard Hot 100, a certified Gold single via the RIAA, and a Grammy award for the Best Rap Performance by a duo or group all before they were old enough to rent cars. Because well, they were cool like that.
“Rebirth of Slick” is the most notable song off of their album Reachin’ and Ladybug Mecca is 1/3 of the dream team that made the song possible. We caught up with her to talk music, what she’s been up to since then, and who she’s digging in the music scene.
What is your music history, did you grow up around it?
LBM: My parents are from Brazil so the first style of music I was introduced to was Brazillian music. As I grew older and started exploring radio, music became a big part of my life. I would literally go from one end of the dial to the next. If I was feeling what I was hearing I would stop and continue listening. That’s how I learned about Earth, Wind & Fire, Sade, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. My mother also really loved a lot of the American r&b/soul artist. So we had vinyl in our home. Music was just a part of our everyday expression and celebration and it was just, life. It was breakfast, lunch and dinner. Music was always there. My father liked instruments so we had them in the house as well.
Where there any women you listened to who inspired you to become an MC?
LBM: There were a combination of women like Queen Latifah, MC Lyte, Roxanne Shante, Salt & Peppa who inspired me. At the time I was writing poetry and my observations of life influenced me to write but seeing how those women had such a strong presence and how great their delivery was, I figured that I could do that too. I realized rap was something that was for me as well.
Do you remember the first time you stepped on a stage? What was that moment like?
LBM: I was in elementary school and we had a multi-cultural night and there were families from all over the world that would set up different booths in our gym and introduce food and things of that nature. During the festivities, my mother and I performed and we danced traditional samba. I was in 5th grade.
Did you picture yourself being a female emcee back then?
LBM: No not back then. I definitely felt like I was going to do something in the arts though. Music pulled me the most, but I wasn’t aware that, that was what I was going to do.
Describe your career after the ‘Rebirth of Slick’ video came out and the Rosie Perez co-sign on ‘In Living Color’.
LBM: I was 19 at the time and right after that happened we went overseas to do a European promotional tour. We were there for 2 weeks and it was trippy because the people in the crowd knew all of the lyrics. They were really feeling the music. It felt great. When we came back to the states, it wasn’t popping off here at all. But the video was on repeat over and over and over. I remember being in a hotel room watching MTV and I was like oh, this is playing again? It built momentum gradually. I realized that people liked it and it was gaining traction. So after it got popular here I spent a little bit of time at home but I was on the road for a year after that. I’m a grounded person so I don’t get comfortable in fame, so when people reacted like that it was like a mind f*ck.
Do you mind explaining the insect theory and how it played a part in the development of Digable Planets?
LBM: The insect theory is embedded in communalism and the goal was to show that we as a people can work together to better ourselves and push ourselves forward. It was rooted in that. The three of us didn’t grow up together but we had an instant family bond from the very beginning. Outside of my immediate family, I had never experienced anything like that at the time. It was really special for me and I really believed in that. I really wanted to work with them to try and influence the world and make things better.
In previous interviews, you expressed your views on the music industry and actual music. How do you feel about today’s climate of music and women’s place in it?
LBM: We’re always going to have a place in it. Now more than ever, it is so important for us to voice our truth and our power and our issues. I feel like with the internet, it has made the world a much smaller place which can make us stronger. In the past year or so, I’ve really connected with Rhapsody and a lot of women in the music industry and everybody is on the female unity wave to push s*it forward. Even before the #MeToo movement blew up. That energy is beautiful, it’s wonderful and it’s necessary. I’m so glad that nothing died out. I’m glad it keeps going because we have so far to go.
Do you have any female artist that you’re listening to heavy?
LBM: I really like Rhapsody, Lekeli47, Kelela, Erykah Badu, Tierra Whack and Kelsey Lu to name a few.
What are you working on now and what can we expect in 2018?
LBM: Recently, I did a world music project and it was with Prince Paul, Don Newkirk and an MC from Brazil. We took hip-hop and mashed it with traditional Yoruba influence. It’s root music with hip-hop and we rhymed in Portuguese, sang in Portuguese and rhymed in English. That was a cool project it’s called Brookzil.
As far as Digable Planets, we’re releasing the 25th-anniversary edition of ‘Reachin‘. We’re going to tour doing that album and we’re setting up dates for that. Also, I have a really special project that I am anticipating on working on, it’s going to take me to Ethiopia for 2 months and I’m really looking forward to that. Also, I’m working on solo music and I’m crafting a sound right now with a few producers. So 2018 is going to be busy and inspiring and I’m really looking forward to it.
Stay updated with what Ladybug Mecca has in store next on her stalk-worthy Instagram page here.