Digital Underground: Still humpin'
Thu 17th Feb, 2005 Featuresin
Hip-hop seldom takes a break in its regularly scheduled gangster or backpacker ways for good clean fun. In 1990 Gangster Rap was bubbling and the lines were being drawn in the rap community. It was then the alter ego of Digital Underground’s front man Shock G got the Hip-Hop world to ease up, and start humpin’. The single “Humpty Dance” took the world by storm and filled dance floors up from Amsterdam to Amsterdam Blvd. Over the next 10 years the crew dropped Ep’s and albums filled with sexual stories and experimental funk crossovers, sometimes getting political, but never enough to stop the party. I caught up with Shock and Humpty (already half a bottle deep due to flying nerves) the day he/they flew out of sunny LA for Digital Underground’s first trip down under.
The group has been through dozens of changes in MC’s and DJ’s In the last 20 years that have included roster members from Esinchill to Tupac Shakur.
Shock: We groom people to become stars man, that’s what happens when you come on board with us. We’ve been changing our dj’s every couple years, they go on to bigger things, get drafted to the big leagues. The dj coming with us for this tour (Nu-Style) has been with us just over a year, he’s real good so hopefully he’ll blow soon and we’ll be back on the hunt. You’ve seen the rappers come through, 2Pac was raw when he was with us, I helped to shape him become who he was will always be proud of him.
I quickly steer the conversation away from 2Pac before we end up in a downwards spiral of conspiracies and Stallone movies and get back to the matter at hand. Shock is currently enjoying underground praise for his first solo project “Fear of a mixed planet” that takes the listener on a real personal journey.
Shock: That album is 20 years in the making. This is the album that talks about me and my beliefs in the world know what I mean? Nothing is more beautiful than the impact one human can make on another, a lot of people have impacted me in this way and I wanted to talk about theses relationships in my music.
Brand: The word “Sun” is used throughout the album, in track titles and lyric references. Why?
Shock: That’s exactly what it is a tribute. All these people are thanking everybody in the world man, I mean everybody. You got musicians thanking hairdressers and shit, their pet poodles and shit. Nobody ever thanks the sun, people don’t think how messed up we’d be without the Sun. It gives life to EVERYTHING. I wanted to thank the Sun within my music even Humpty thanks the sun in his way on “Your Sun is a pimp”.
Shock switches into the Humpty persona for the third or fourth time to tell me briefly about the track so I take the opportunity to ask Hump, the master of the biscuit, about crew member Money Bee’s foray into the porn industry.
Brand: Money just released Part two of his “Sex and the City “series, how would you rate it?
Humpty: Money’s crazy with his, I gotta give this one twelve out of ten. More porn stars getting real freaky, studio action, backstage shots and lots of rappers. Snoop, Warren G, Trench , De La and a whole lot more. If you want to get your Freak on this is the one for you don’t sleep.
Rivaled only by Luke and his 2 Live Crew in the 90’s for their sexcapades it’s no surprise that some of the original members have started their own porn empire. The only thing that Digital Underground loved as much as women was keyboards and parliament. I can remember getting the Sex Packets record and hearing a sample from Flashlight at least four times.
Brand: The keyboards, the well over 7 minute track times, and the chanting, you guys have always been about the funk. Everything right down to track titling and remakes all over your albums, why so much?
Shock: We all grew up and haven’t grown out of that era. Free love, great music and real good times you know. My folks were all real open about everything and we came up like that. When we were doing the early albums the world was still in that real behind closed doors stage and we embraced the opposite. We were doin what we like and rappin about it, so naturally we just brought our influences into the music as a tribute but also because the Funk still lives.
It certainly does and as long as DU keeps keeping on the Hip-Hop world won’t forget it. These interview closers always encourage people not to miss out but I need to throw some added sincerity at this one. GO SEE THIS SHOW. You WILL have a good time and you WILL be treated to talented musicians and rappers. Or just go and do the Hump for old time’s sake.
Digital Underground play:
Fri 18th Feb, Perth – Metro City
Thu 24th Feb, Gold Coast – Quest
Sat 26th Feb, Adelaide – Fowlers Live
Thu 3rd Mar, Melbourne – Metro Nightclub (BUY TICKETS)
Sat 5th Mar, Sydney – Luna Park (BUY TICKETS)