Cherrywine | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Cherrywine 

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Digable Planets were one of the most interesting and original rap groups of the early 90s, recording two terrific albums, 1993's breezy Reachin' (A New Refutation of Time and Space) and 1994's militantly funky Blowout Comb. After that, the group (rappers Doodlebug, Butterfly, and Ladybug, aka Mecca--possibly hip-hop's most underrated female MC) virtually disappeared. But the three have kept busy: Doodlebug, now known as Cee-Knowledge, leads a large band called the Cosmic Funk Orchestra that gigs regularly in Philadelphia, and Mecca is due to release a solo album this fall. The most interesting project, though, belongs to Butterfly, ne Ishmael Butler, who returned to his childhood home of Seattle after the Planets' 1996 breakup, taught himself guitar and keyboards, and put together Cherrywine with local guitarist Thaddeus Turner, his bassist brother Gerald Turner, and multi-instrumentalist Bubba Jones. On their debut, Bright Black (DCide/Babygrande), the band's grooves recall early Funkadelic; the stuttering drum programming and woozy, liquefied bass line of "Girlcrazy (My Cream Gets It Done)" sound like a collaboration between Timbaland and Outkast production team Organized Noize. Through most of Bright Black, Butler employs a strutting, pimplike tone: on "So Glad for Baby" he sings "I've got a Cadillac parked in New York / And I don't believe half the shit I talk / But I love it and I mean it / You can see it when I walk / So come here, girl, and give me a kiss" over a snaking guitar riff. But sometimes he pokes holes in the persona: "See for Miles" is a bizarre, paranoid monologue about cocaine, while the "I was so fly" refrain of "Dazzlement" both celebrates and mocks the song's gangsta pose. Thursday, June 19, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600.

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