Sunday, October 4, 2015

Digital Underground - The Humpty Dance

By mixing old school beats with goofy lyrics, Digital Underground (DU) created a cool and unique sound that led to one big hit, though by all rights they could have been much more successful.  The group was led by Greg Jacobs, who went by Shock G -- though in DU he played a character called Humpty Hump.

Jacobs grew up in Tampa, Florida, but formed Digital Underground after relocating to Oakland, California in 1987.  The group's sound relied heavily on old school samples, especially from Parliament Funkadelic and Sly and the Family Stone.  (Not coincidentally, both acts were sampled for "The Humpty Dance.")  DU's debut LP, 1990's Sex Packets became a hit, reaching #24 on the charts.  However, this proved to be Digital Underground's biggest success, though the band continued to record and perform through 2008.

Needless to say, "The Humpty Dance" was DU's biggest hit at #11.  The video became a mainstay on MTV for a time in 1989 (the song and video came out prior to the LP).  The crazy lyrics, and Humpty Humps' Groucho Marx glasses and vintage clothes created a visual image completely different from anything else on MTV at the time.  Unfortunately, this momentum proved hard to maintain.

Although Digital Underground soldiered on for years, Jacobs (Shock G) was no one trick pony, as he also has worked as a solo artist and producer.  He remains active in the industry as of this writing.

Cool trivia fact:  None other than Tupac Shakur got his start as a member of Digital Underground, starting in 1991.  In addition, G Shock produced several early Tupac songs.

Cool trivia fact #2:  Digital Underground is not a one hit wonder, as 1991's "Kiss You Back" reached #40 on the charts.

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