Shock G (Greg Jacobs)Vocals, piano
Shock G played three different characters which sometimes intersected in the same song. In addition to Shock, he was also Humpty Hump and MC Blowfish. When "The Humpty Dance
" became a huge hit, there was more demand for that character, but he didn't want to oversaturate it.
The group formed in the San Francisco Bay area, which didn't have much hip-hop presence at the time (MC Hammer and Tony! Toni! Toné! were the biggest acts). This compelled them to create their own unique sound, as they didn't have a regional standard.
The big, swirling bassline heard in "The Humpty Dance" became the bedrock of their sound. Chopmaster J told us
how it happened: "We were kind of arguing about something when a loop of the bass ended up getting stuck in a sequencer, and it was a wonderful, beautiful mistake. It kind of locked in there when we had too much MIDI gear hooked up and too many things going at once where that bass was being played. That ended up looping in a way that was something we hadn't heard before and quite honestly no one's ever been able to duplicate since."
In the early '90s, the group had lots of offers for endorsements and other projects, but Shock G turned most of them down. His business partner in the group was Chopmaster J, who pushed to capitalize on these opportunities, but Shock just wan't into it, as he had little interest in the business side.
They were a very interactive group, and would create a party atmosphere by throwing out party packs to the crowd containing items like novelty horns, noise makers and condoms.
The group appeared in the 1991 movie Nothing But Trouble, where they performed a tune they wrote for the film, "Same Song." Dan Aykroyd, who directed and starred in the film along with Chevy Chase, John Candy and Demi Moore, asked the group to participate after seeing them perform at the Palace Theatre in Los Angeles. The movie underwhelmed at the box office, but often showed up cable years later, where it found a following.
Many different folks contributed to Digital Underground, which used the P-Funk model where musicians, performers, artists and producers would help out where they could. The Shock G analog in P-Funk is George Clinton, who produced the group's second album, Sons of the P. As a result, there's no cut-and-dry record of who were official band members. Scores of names show up on the album credits.
Most early rap songs were based on James Brown samples or disco grooves, but Digital Underground looked to P-Funk for inspiration, building on the raw funk sound with heavy bass lines. This sound was later adopted by many West Coast acts, notably Dr. Dre.
Tupac Shakur was down with the Underground, but he had to pay his dues before they gave him a lead role. Tupac helped out as a roadie and was one of the two dancers who flanked Shock G when they performed "The Humpty Hump." His first verse on a major release came when he rapped on "Same Song."
"He was a guy who very much understood that he had to do things he'd never done before to get things he never had before," Chopmaster J said in his Songfacts interview. "Tupac's attitude was: 'Chop, what can I do to help so that I can be put on?'"