DIGITAL UNDERGROUND BIOGRAPHY:
Digital Underground are an alternative rap group hailing from Oakland, California in the USA. This multi-member hip-hop band played a big part in giving West Coast rap the spotlight. D.U.'s leader was Greg “Shock G” Jacobs, who was born on August 25, 1963. He spent most of his youth in New York City and southern Florida, eventually settling in the Bay Area of California. He dropped out of high school in the late 1970s and spent several years pursuing a life of crime before eventually finishing his degree and attending college, where he studied music.
Heavily influenced by the various funk bands of the 1970s, Digital Underground sampled their music frequently, which quickly became a defining element of west-coast rap. Their ‘alternative’ status owes much to their unabashedly spaced-out image, which lay in contrast to the gangster rap that most west coast acts focused on. Album cuts frequently went on until well over the five-minute mark, giving albums a jam-session feel.
Supposedly, the group's original image was set up to be a tribute to social activists The Black Panthers, but when Public Enemy became a prominent band, Shock G supposedly chose to take the group's image in a more whimsical direction, that of an updated Parliament-Funkadelic for the hip-hop audience. He even took to designing detailed covers and cartoon-laced liner notes for the band, in tribute to the similarly constructed album jackets from Parliament-Funkadelic. Under the alias "Rackadelic", which was his graffiti tag as a youth, Shock G is responsible for the Digital Underground album cover illustrations & CD booklet cartoons and comic strips.
Along with Chopmaster J, Shock G formed Digital Underground in 1987, and the duo released a single, "Underwater Rimes", which suprisingly went to #1 in the Netherlands. In 1989, the group signed with Tommy Boy Records, and that summer "Doowutchyalike" became a hit on the USA underground. By that time, Digital Underground had expanded significantly, with DJ Fuze, Money-B, and Schmoovy-Schmoov joining the group.
Their first album, 1990’s 'Sex Packets', was named after a sketchy invention idea Schmoovy Schmoov (Earl Cook - early member) had for a hallucinogen that could induce orgasm. To promote the album, a fake newsletter was circulated to California medical clinics, for which the 'sex packets' even got notice in USA Today (the newsletter claimed that NASA was secretly developing them for astronauts, as relief on extended space stints).
Sex Packets (recorded with Chopmaster J, Money-B, DJ Fuze) became a hit after "The Humpty Dance", a song which was rapped by Shock-G's alter ego Humpty Hump, was a club crossover hit and climbed all the way to #11 on the pop charts, peaking at #7 on the R&B; charts. With its P-Funk samples, jazzy interludes, and innovative array of samples and live instrumentation, Sex Packets received positive reviews and the album received platinum status, selling over 1 million copies.
As Shock G, Jacobs was a cool, breezy-voiced commentator. On the other hand, his secret alter ego, Humpty Hump, was an uninhibited clown in a Groucho Marx glasses/nose combo and pimp-inspired clothes. At concerts, a stand-in would silently play either one person or the other, and when a smoke bomb dropped, or some other trick, Jacobs would switch gears and rap as the other person. A fictional biography was constructed for Humpty, the story being that "Edward G. Humphreys had become a musician after burning his nose in a kitchen accident with a deep-fryer." Jacobs also performed as a character by the name of MC Blowfish on the "Underwater Rhymes" track.
The group was also featured in the Dan Aykroyd film Nothing But Trouble, in which they performed the track "Same Song" and later "Tie the Knot." The music video for "Same Song" featured clips from the film and is also the video that featured the first appearance by a young, and unknown at the time Tupac Shakur (2pac), who would go on to be one of rap's biggest stars off all time. Tupac Shakur (2pac) was a dancer and roadie for the band before joining as a full member, and subsequently getting his record deal.
In 1993, Shock-G produced Tupac Shakur's breakthrough gold single "I Get Around" as well as guest starred on the single and music video, and went on to produce Tupac's "So Many Tears" from his album Me Against the World. Tupac's first published work was while still a member of Digital Underground when he appeared on the song and video "Same Song", which also appeared in the Dan Aykroyd and Demi Moore film Nothing But Trouble. Shock also co-produced Tupac's debut album 2Pacalypse Now. Under the alias "Piano Man", Shock contributed the piano, synthesizer, and organ work heard on all five Digital Underground albums, as well as the live keys on his many Tupac productions.
Saafir was also a member of Digital Underground and went on to release several solo albums, aswell as R&B; singer Mystik who also got her start as a member of Digital Underground.
Digital Underground followed up the success of their debut album, 'Sex Packets', with multiple other releases as a group, aswell as Shock G's solo efforts. The LP 'Sons Of The P' was the groups next album release which dropped on October 15, 1991 from Tommy Boy Records. The album featured two hit singles, "Kiss You Back" which was co-written by George Clinton, and "No Nose Job." They then released their third LP The Body-Hat Syndrome on October 5, 1993, which seems a somewhat weaker effort from the groups previous albums.
Shock-G also appeared as a producer and guest artist on fellow Oakland-based rap group The Luniz platinum debut release Operation Stackola in 1995, also appearing as a guest emcee in the "I Got 5 On It" Bay Ballers Remix and video.
In June, 1996 Digital Underground released their fourth album 'Future Rhythm' to modest success, and then dropped 'Who Got The Gravy?' on September 8, 1998. Despite having no singles, the album still managed to get into the Top R&B;/Hip-Hop Albums charts. 'The Lost Files' would follow on October 26, 1999. It features a whole bunch of unreleased tracks that were not put onto Digital Undergrounds previous albums. In the same year Shock-G toured and performed on stage with George Clinton & P-Funk including a guest performance with Clinton at Woodstock 1999.
Since the mid 90's Digital Underground have slowly been falling off rap's radar, but are still a good enough force to have released two compilation albums since their hay day. The first came on June 19, 2001 in the form of; "No Nose Job: The Legend of Digital Underground" which features several of their hit songs, such as "Same Song" and "The Humpty Dance" and is a very strong and solid rap compilation album. Then on June 10, 2003, they released their next, and last album to date as a group, "Playwutchyalike: The Best of Digital Underground", a compilation album with the same theme of its predecessor and again it is a solid album worthy of any hip-hop fans hard earned.
In 2004, Shock released a solo CD, Fear of a Mixed Planet. Shock-G's production credits include several gold and platinum Digital Underground and 2Pac releases, as well as songs for Prince ("Love Sign" from the Crystal Ball LP), Bobby Brown, Saafir, and many others. But in July 2005, Shock G announced that he was retiring from studio work, citing the fact that too many people were asking him to work for free. He will continue to write and tour, and he has also expressed interest in acting and playing with other music acts—as long as it's not for free. "I did the super-generous, available to everyone, free thing for many years, I'm ready to try to earn a few bucks now" Shock G said.
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