Digital Underground and Humpty Hump took the hip-hop and funk world by storm in the early 90s when The Humpty Dance video hit MTV. That was a couple of years before Snoop’s Doggystyle, round ‘bout the time Prince Paul produced De La Soul first album Three Feet High and Rising and A Tribe Called Quest first opus came out as well. I vividly remember going to a record store in Avignon (France) where these records were displayed alongside a newcomer artist named Lenny Kravitz and his Let Love Rule.
D.U.’s 1990 Sex Packets remains as one of true hip-hop albums masterpieces, and its Prince, Parliament, Sly Stone, Jimi Hendrix, James Brown samples unequivocally inscribed Shock G’s band and productions in an unmistakeable genealogy. It would be hasty to consider his productions as just pioneering for what would become a widespread habit of (over)sampling P-Funk anthems or more obscure cuts. When listening to this playlist, it sounds more than obvious that it kept 30 years later a distinct quality, groove and unique sharpness.
His « Humpty Hump » character (go re-watch video clips of Humpty Dance, No Nose Job, Doowutchalike), though hilarious and crazy lookin’, was carefully made to be believed as an individual member of D.U.’s crew, although Shock G and Hump were one and the same. Shock G is responsible for some of the funkiest and most exhilarating 90s pioneering standing-the-test-of-time hip-hop joints ever. And while undeniably funny and heavily funky, one shouldn’t forget that the early 90s were HIV marked, and Digital Undergound’s GrouchoMarxian/Dr.Funkensteinesque hedonist twist to their own troubled times somehow helped at making wearing a « body hat » (condom) cool. You will also read that Shock G did help introducing 2Pac to the world, and that is true (hear « Same Song » or watch its official video).
This is hip-hop, fun, sex, fantasy… but not only. There is some seriousness behind the obsessions that inhabit Humpty Hump/Shock G’s rhymes ; a perfect illustration of this underlying heaviness can be heard and seen on « No Nose Job » video. And whomever was 18 when Sex Packets came out had no other choice but to go seek out in record stores the origin of the samples contained herein at a time when wi-fi didn’t mean anything yet to anyone.
So long Shock, Hump… We know we owe you. Peace out.