ABOUT CEE KNOWLEDGE
Hip-hop in the '80s, jazz in the '60s, and funk in the '70s are all well-documented revolutionary expressions in African-American music. Less familiar, though, is their meeting ground in Cee Knowledge and the Cosmic Funk Orchestra. Craig Irving, the Philadelphia hip-hop vocalist better known as Cee Know the Doodlebug of the Grammy-winning hip-hop trio Digable Planets, adopted the moniker Cee Knowledge while studying the 5% 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 Chill Moody. 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 a series of mixtapes...Live From the 7th Dimension, Vol. 1 early in 2000 and Return of the Cosmic Funk in September 2002. That same year Cee Knowledge released a 12 inch single featuring "Space is the place" b/w "life rhythm continuum” on the Counterflow record label. Knowledge and his 9-piece group -- which featured guitarist Adam Charlton; bassist Mitch Beer; drummer Gary Dann and rappers Kai Chi, Sabri Majid, Reality and background singers Eddie Kane and Sabrina Cuie -- played progressive hip-hop filled with a funkified brand of streetwise jazz poetry. In 2014 the band released their self produced full length album called "to Life Love and Loot" and now in 2018 the space renegades have returned with their 2nd album "Alien-Aided a Cosmic Funk anthology" released on Artists First Records / Ropeadope.