Shock G, frontman of innovative hip-hop group Digital Underground, passed away

After the sudden passing of rap legend DMX earlier this month, the hip-hop world lost another iconic soul, Shock G, the co-founder and MC of Bay Area group Digital Underground.

Born in New York, Gregory Edward Jacobs was one of the most charismatic and colourful figures in the late 80’s and 90’s hip-hop scene, who died aged 57 on April 22. His father Edward Racker told TMZ that the rapper was found dead in a hotel room in Tampa,Florida but no cause of death has been established at this time. Jimi “Chopmaster J” Dright, who also co-founded Digital Underground, wrote on Instagram:

“34 years ago almost to the day we had a wild idea we can be a hip hop band and take on the world through it all the dream became a reality and the reality became a nightmare for some. And now he’s awaken from the fame long live shock G Aka Humpty Hump and Rest In Peace my Brotha Greg Jacobs!!!”

He spent his teen years in Tampa before moving to Oakland and becoming a foundational figure in West Coast hip-hop along with other Bay Area rappers such as Too $hort, MC Hammer and E-40. Home of the Black Panther party, Oakland was the melting pot of creativity and black empowerement, where they embraced funk like no other. The top records on the radio were Parliament-Funkadelic a.k.a P-Funk headed by George Clinton. Formed in 1987 along with Jimi “Chopmaster J” Dright  and Kenneth “Kenny-K” Waters, Digital Undergound was one of the first rap groups who borrowed heavily from the funk collective and also who worked with Clinton on the rap group’s sophomore album ‘Sons of the P’.

Shock G was a true trendsetter MC and producer, best known for his goofy, big-nosed alter ego Humpty Hump. The name refers to Digital Underground’s hit single and dance moveThe Humpty Dance‘  that reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, #7 on the R&B charts, and #1 on the Billboard Rap Singles chart. About the birth of his signature look, Shock G said:

“It wasn’t until the day we shot the video and we were picking up party supplies that the whole idea for Humpty’s nose came about. This store in Berkley had some bargain bin noses that were 99 cents each. One was a sharp nose, one was a pig nose and the others were some odd, brown Groucho Marx noses. I put it on and it was just so fucking hilarious to me. That was the birth of Humpy Hump.”

The unique alter ego was first introduced in the iconic 1989 ‘Doowutchyalike’ music video, also starring young Tupac Shakur. Following the release of their 1990 debut album ‘Sex Packets’ via Tommy Boy Records, Digital Underground toured the globe with labelmates like Queen Latifah and recruited Tupac as their roadie. Touring with the group eventually led to his guest verse and recording debut on ‘Same Song‘ from Digital Underground’s 1991 EP, ‘This Is An E.P. Release’. Shock G helped pave the way for the astonishing talent, co-producing Tupac’s 1991 debut solo album ‘2Pacalyse Now’ and also co-writing and performing on the rap icon’s 1993 track ‘I Get Around.’ Shock G worked steadily over the decades with the likes of Prince, Dr. Dre, Murs, KRS-One, and many more. In 2004, Shock G issued his only official solo album, ‘Fear of a Mixed Planet’, while his final album with Digital Underground was 2008’s ‘..Cuz a D.U. Party Don’t Stop!’

Image Credit:  Raymond Boyd/Getty Images