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While hip-hop was consumed by the hardcore, noisy political rap of Public Enemy and the gangsta rap of N.W.A., Digital Underground sneaked out of Oakland with their bizarre, funky homage to Parliament-Funkadelic. Digital Underground built most of their music from P-Funk samples and developed a similarly weird sense of style and humor, highlighted by Shock-G's outrageous costumes and the whole band's parade of alter egos. Of all these alter egos, Shock-G's Humpty Hump -- a ridiculous comical figure with a Groucho Marx nose and glasses and a goofy, stuttering voice -- was the most famous, especially since he was immortalized on their breakthrough single, "The Humpty Dance." Over the course of their career, Digital Underground have featured a numerous members, but throughout it all, Shock-G has remained at their core, developing the band's sound and style, which they had from the outset, as their 1990 debut, Sex Packets, proved. Sex Packets was an instant hit, thanks the loopy single "The Humpty Dance," and while they never scaled such commercial heights ever again, their role in popularizing George Clinton's elastic funk made them one of the most important hip-hop groups of their era.
Shock-G (born Gregory E. Jacobs, August 25, 1963) spent most of his childhood moving around the East Coast with his family, eventually settling in the Bay Area of California. He dropped out of high school in the late '70s and spent several years pursuing a life of crime before eventually finishing his degree and going to college to study music. Along with Chopmaster J, Shock-G formed Digital Underground in 1987, and the duo released a single, "Underwater Rimes," that year, which went to number one in the Netherlands. In 1989, the group signed with Tommy Boy, and that summer "Doowutchyalike" became an underground hit. By that time, Digital Underground had expanded significantly, featuring DJ Fuze, Money-B (born Ron Brooks), and Schmoovy-Schmoov (born Earl Cook). Sex Packets, the group's debut album, was released in the spring of 1990, and "The Humpty Dance," which was rapped by Shock-G's alter ego Humpty Hump, climbed all the way to number 11 on the pop charts, peaking at number seven on the R&B charts. With its P-Funk samples, jazzy interludes, and innovative amalgam of samples and live instrumentation, Sex Packets received positive reviews and went platinum by the end of the year.
Digital Underground followed Sex Packets in early 1991 with This Is an EP Release, their first recording to feature rapper Tupac Shakur. The EP went gold and set the stage for their second album, Sons of the P, which was released that fall. On the strength of the gold single "Kiss You Back," Sons of the P also went gold, but it received criticism for its similarity to Sex Packets. By the time Digital Underground delivered their third album, The Body-Hat Syndrome in late 1993, hip-hop had become dominated by gangsta rap, particularly the drawling G-funk of Dr. Dre, which ironically was heavily indebted to Clinton. Consequently, their fan base diminished significantly, and The Body-Hat Syndrome disappeared shortly after its release. Nearly three years later, Digital Underground returned with Future Rhythm, which spent a mere three weeks on the charts. Who Got the Gravy? followed in 1998.
Digital Underground was an alternative hip hop group from Oakland, California. Their personnel changed and rotated with each album and tour.
Digital Underground's leader and mainstay was Greg "Shock G" Jacobs (also known as Humpty Hump); Shock G formed the group in 1987 with Jimi "Chopmaster J" Dright of Berkeley, California, and Tampa hip-hop radio deejay Kenneth "Kenny-K" Waters.
Heavily influenced by the various funk bands of the 1970s, Digital Underground sampled such music frequently, which became a defining element of West Coast rap. As "Rackadelic", Jacobs designed album covers and cartoon-laced liner notes, in homage to Parliament-Funkadelic album designs. Digital Underground is also notable for launching the career of member Tupac Shakur, as well as spinning off side projects and solo acts including Raw Fusion, Saafir, and singer Mystic.
Following the release of their "Doowutchyalike" single and video in the summer of 1989, the band gained popularity with their song "The Humpty Dance" in 1990. Digital Underground toured nearly every year up until 2008; this consisted of live shows in Europe, Japan, Canada, Australia, and the U.S. While the group's origins lay mostly in Oakland and Berkeley, California, various characters and voices from around the U.S and U.K. appeared on the band's albums. Shock G and Money-B were the only individuals to appear on every album. Other recurring key contributors were David "DJ Fuze" Elliot, and deejay/producer Jeremy "J-Beats" Jackson, who both assisted Jacobs in developing the sound.
The group appeared in and donated music to the 1991 Dan Aykroyd film Nothing but Trouble.
After approximately twenty years of touring, Shock G announced that the group would officially disband in 2008. Shortly after that announcement was made, the group also confirmed that their May 2008 album ..Cuz a D.U. Party Don't Stop! would be their last studio effort."Digital Underground Biography". Musicianguide.com. Retrieved 2010-08-11. "Kenny K - Tampa Hip-Hop dot Com v2.0". Tampahiphop.com. Retrieved 2010-08-11. "Digital Underground | View the Music Artists Biography Online". VH1.com. 1963-08-25. Retrieved 2010-08-11. Pop Matters; We Don't Die, We Multiply
ContentsHistory1.1 Formation1.2 Sex Packets1.3 This is an EP Release1.4 Sons of the P1.5 The Body-Hat Syndrome1.6 Future Rhythm1.7 Who Got the Gravy?1.8 ..Cuz A D.U. Party Don't Stop!
Jacobs spent most of his youth in Tampa, Florida and New York City. Founded in 1987, the group's image was originally more militant, and was intended to be a tribute to social activists The Black Panthers. However, when Public Enemy became a prominent band, Jacobs chose to take the image in a more whimsical direction.
Sex Packets, the group's debut album, was released in the spring of 1990 following the success of its two lead off singles. First came "Doowutchyalike," a moderate club hit, followed by the more successful song "The Humpty Dance", a humorous dance number that reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, #7 on the R&B charts, and #1 on the Billboard Rap Singles chart. It was rapped by Shock G's alter ego Humpty Hump, and featured a drum track with over 50 confirmed usages in other songs. Sex Packets features P-Funk samples, jazz-influenced interludes, and a combination of samples and live instrumentation, earning it positive reviews and platinum sales.
§This is an EP Release
This is an EP Release is the RIAA Gold certified second Digital Underground release, from which two songs, "Tie the Knot" and "Same Song" were featured in the film Nothing But Trouble starring Dan Aykroyd, Chevy Chase, Demi Moore, and John Candy. "Tie The Knot," features jazzy piano tracks and a comedic interpretation of "Bridal Chorus". "Same Song" has an organ solo and improvised organ bits throughout the song, making it one of hip hop's first singles to successfully integrate live instrumentation with music samples. Tupac Shakur made his debut on the latter song and portrayed an African king in the video. Tupac also can be heard joking around on the remixed version of "The Way We Swing" as a background vocalist, adding humorous ad-libs between the verses. Tupac first began to appear on stage with the group as one of its dancers and "hype men".
§Sons of the P
The group's third album featured two singles, "No Nose Job" and "Kiss You Back", the latter of which featured multi-layered choruses and background vocals sung by Boni Boyer, who briefly worked with Digital Underground shortly after her stint with Prince's Sign of the Times/Love Sexy band. Despite the fact that a choir of singers were portrayed in the video, the actual studio singing was exclusively Boni on all tracks, excluding the male voices. It has been mistakenly reported that "Kiss You Back" was co-written and co-performed by George Clinton, but his name appears in the writers credit due to a sample of "(Not Just) Knee Deep" by Funkadelic being used. He did, however, actively participate in the writing and recording of the title track "Sons of the P", which he also contributed vocals to, and which marked one of the earliest studio guest appearances by Clinton on a Hip Hop release, which is preceded only by Kurtis Blow's "Magilla Gorilla" released in 1986. Both the album and the "Kiss You Back" single were each certified Gold by the RIAA.
§The Body-Hat Syndrome
With the leading single "The Return of the Crazy One," and its accompanying X-rated video, which was reworked for public consumption, gaining positive feedback, the rest of The Body-Hat Syndrome unfurled to less than outstanding crossover commercial acclaim. The album's second single, an anti-racism cultural awareness politico called "Wussup Wit the Luv," featured a solo from Funkadelic guitarist Michael Hampton, as well as a verse and video appearance from Tupac Shakur. This would be the last time Tupac appeared on any Digital Underground release, while lead rappers Saafir and Clee were added to the band's line-up. This album also features "The Humpty Dance Awards", the group's humorous shout-out to the artists who sampled the Humpty Dance prior to 1993.
Future Rhythm, the group's fifth album, would be the band's first independent release, and it spawned two songs that were featured in the Wayans brothers' film Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood. The songs are "Food Fight", which featured Del tha Funkee Homosapien, and "We Got More" with Luniz. The latter is featured twice on the soundtrack: once as a full song, and once as an intro edited to the beginning of "Winter Wars" by Ghostface Killa. The album also contains an early performance from rapper Sly Boogy, while he was still a member of the Black Spooks, who appeared on the song "Fool Get a Clue."
§Who Got the Gravy?
In 1998, eight years after the group's first release, Digital Underground released Who Got the Gravy?, which reached #91 on the Top 200 R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. The album intentionally featured several East Coast rappers at a time when the East vs. West rivalry was active, in an attempt to both ignore and ridicule it. The guests included New York City natives Big Pun, Biz Markie and KRS-One, and introduced Whuteva and Stylez, while also introducing west coast bay area newcomers Esinchill and female emcee Mystic.
§..Cuz A D.U. Party Don't Stop!
Digital Underground's final studio album, ..Cuz a D.U. Party Don't Stop!, was released on May 20, 2008, although a substantial portion of it was recorded at a live show from 2005. Shortly before its release, the group embarked on an indefinite hiatus. Money-B has stated that Shock G expressed interest in writing a book and exploring music that the latter would deem unfit for the Digital Underground name.
On May 18, 2010, The Greenlight EP was released, which features some previously unreleased Digital Underground tracks.
On November 13, 2012, the group gave a surprise performance at Fluxx Nightclub in San Diego, California.Bernard Lopez (December 4, 1996). "Boni Boyer (Bonita Louisa Boyer)". DiscoMusic.com. "Boni Boyer - Bio, CDs and Vinyl at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2010-08-11. "Digital Underground: Information from". Answers.com. Retrieved 2010-08-11. Huff, Quentin B. "We Don't Die, We Multiply: Heartbeat Props < PopMatters". Popmatters.com. Retrieved 2010-08-11. "Artist Info: Kurtis Blow". Tunegenie.com. 1959-08-09. Retrieved 2010-08-11. "Black Spooks - Bio, CDs and Vinyl at Discogs". Discogs.com. Retrieved 2010-08-11. Interview with Digital Underground's Money-B blogcritics.org. 2009-07-31. Retrieved on 2010-11-08. Digital Underground – The Greenlight EP features previously unreleased tracks, and releases May 18th mvremix.com. 2010-04-23. Retrieved on 2011-01-16.