Hip-hop in the '80s, jazz in the '60s, and funk in the '70s are all well-documented revolutionary expressions in Africa-American music. Less familiar, though, is their meeting ground in Cee Knowledge and the Cosmic Funk Orchestra in 2000, and beyond. Craig Irving, the Philadelphia hip-hop vocalist better known as Doodlebug of the defunct Grammy-winning hip-hop trio Digable Planets, adopted the moniker Cee Knowledge while studying the Nation of Islam in 1988 at Howard University.
Knowledge grew up in a city full of musical traditions from the cosmic jazz of the Sun Ra Arkestra to the new Philly soul of Bilal and Musiq Soulchild and the groundbreaking hip-hop of the Roots and Eve. It was a place for Knowledge to absorb all kinds of music from early hip-hop and '70s funk to avant-garde jazz and new Philly soul. Knowledge's mind drifted south of Philadelphia for his funk sources in the music of Parliament-Funkadelic, the Bar-Kays, and Barry White. He first expressed his love of funk, jazz, and hip-hop together in Digable Planets, which won a Grammy for Best Rap Performance in 1993.
At Howard University, he met Mary Ann "Ladybug" Vierra, a Brazilian-American singer from Maryland. With Ishmael "Butterfly" Butler, they founded Digable Planets in 1991 and released a highly acclaimed single, "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)." When Digable Planets disbanded in 1995 after two successful albums and a handful of warmly received singles, Knowledge felt a void in his music career. From early concerts at the Deer Park Tavern in Delaware and at the Philadelphia Music Conference, he forged the early lineup for Cee Knowledge and the Cosmic Funk Orchestra from hip-hop and jazz musicians in Delaware and Philadelphia in 1999. For his first solo project, he released Live From the 7th Dimension, Vol. 1 early in 2000 and Return of the Cosmic Funk in September 2000. He remixed the latter to include tracks featuring vibraphonist Roy Ayers, Ladybug, and members of the Sun Ra Arkestra for release in 2001.
Knowledge and his 11-piece group -- which featured jazz and hippie jam band guitarist Mark Turner; saxist-flutist Elliott Levin (Sun Ra, DJ Logic); reggae bassist and didgeridoo player Rob Griffith; Haitian keyboardist Giscard Xavier; jazz and reggae drummer Mad Max; rappers INDIAN BLACK, REALITY , KAI CHI AND background vocalist Loretta Gooden,MS. Gnomiagre and DJ SOULBUCK -- played progressive hip-hop filled with a funkified brand of streetwise jazz poetry. Knowledge showed dissatisfaction with all the emphasis on money, sex, and violence in much of hip-hop in the late '90s and early 2000 in preference for an expression of peace, love, political action, inner strength, happiness, and hope for the future.
In 2002, Cee Knowledge released the Space is the Place single for the Counterflow label. The single featured the Sun Ra Arkestra.In 2005 Cee Knowledge released a full length mixtape cd entitled "the cosmic funk essentials" and began a worldwide reunion tour with the original members of THE DIGABLE PLANETS...more recently, Cee Knowledge has partnered with japaneese indie label root70 lounge records to release his latest musical effort called "THE INTIFADAH-THE UPRISING" which is available exclusively online now at itunes and junodownload.Digable Planets merchandise is available exclusively at www.ceeknowledge.com(where you can also purchase doodlebugs mixtapes and CFO merchandise)...Cee Know the Doodlebug currently tours with a 3 piece band( gary dann on drums, mitch beer on bass, adam 12 on guitar) and CFO emcees; indian black, kai chi aka flo sama been rhymin, reality and nex millen on turntables and vocals...check us out at
www.reverbnation.com/ceeknowledgeandcosmicfunkallstars and also