Visionary rapper and producer Shock G, frontman of Digital Underground, died on Thursday at the age of 57, his Underground group-mate Chopmaster J confirmed on Instagram.
Shock G, whose real name was Greg Jacobs, co-founded Digital Underground in 1987 with Chopmaster J and Kenny K. Their biggest hit was 1990’s “The Humpty Dance,” which saw Shock G assume his alter ego, Humpty Hump. “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,” Chopmaster J wrote on Instagram. “And now he’s awaken from the fame long live shock G Aka Humpty Hump and Rest In Peace my Brotha Greg Jacobs!!!”
Digital Underground’s debut album, Sex Packets, featured the hit single “Doowutchyalike” in addition to “The Humpty Dance,” and the group would go on to produce five more albums and cycle through more than three dozen members, with Shock G remaining as its leader throughout its twenty-year history. “We’ve got street DJs and MCs who’ve been raised on a diet of hip hop,” Shock G said in a 1989 interview of Underground’s many members and influences. “We’ve got rappers who couldn’t whistle in the right key let alone sing. We’ve got vocalists who can’t rap, not even a Christmas gift much less on a microphone (…) Each individual has his own set of influences, from Jimi Hendrix to Erroll Garner via George Clinton, from hip hop to doo-wop, from jazz and R&B to funk and rock.”
Shock G also co-wrote LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out,” which won a Grammy in 1992, as well as 2Pac’s breakthrough hit, “I Get Around.” 2Pac originally joined Digital Underground in 1990, and Shock G went on to co-produce 2Pac’s debut album, 2Pacalypse Now, in 1991.
Artists, actors, and producers, including MC Hammer, Viola Davis, and Immortal Technique, took to social media with remembrances of the rapper following the news of his passing on Thursday. “‘i get around’ is one of my favorite songs of all time! Shock G’s verse has always been the funnest to rap along with,” Jhené Aiko tweeted. “Rest well, King.”
Journalist Bomani Jones wrote, “that man was a legitimate visionary genius.” Questlove added, “Damn. Fiona Apple just hit & told me this cool story about her pushing a cart in the Home Depot parking lot, & saw Shock G (97) & both were mutual fans (DU was her 1st rap purchase/He would spin ‘Never Is A Promise’ at gigs) they would email/exchange lyrics to each other.” Ice Cube remembered Shock G as a “true Bay Area original,” writing, “I remember when NWA’s road manager Atron said he had a group called Digital Underground. He played DOWHATCHALIKE video & I went crazy. I had to sample DU on JACKIN FOR BEATS and WHO’S THE MACK. And nobody had a better stage show.”