- Gregory Edward Jacobs, aka Shock G, the infamous frontman for hip-hop supergroup Digital Underground, died on Thursday.
- His lyrical and production chops helped usher in a new sound in Hip-Hop and his group recruited a young Tupac Shakur in 1991.
- The group's breakout cut, "The Humpty Dance," birthed a parodic and nasally alter ego, "Humpty Hump," who Shock G leaned into throughout his career.
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Gregory Edward Jacobs, aka Shock G, the infamous frontman for hip-hop supergroup Digital Underground, was found dead on Thursday in a hotel room in Tampa, Florida. He was 57.
His death was confirmed by the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office, but no cause has been released.
Born in Brooklyn on Aug. 25, 1963, Shock G started the Digital Underground in 1988 with Chopmaster J and Kenny-K after moving to Oakland, pioneering a sound which was defined by busy breakbeat, layered with lush jazz chords and hypnotic funk samples.
The Digital Underground was knit together by tongue-in-cheek call and responses, skits, and inquisitive storytelling. Shock G's melodic rapping and singing was grounded by sober musings which captured the social realities of the times.
"Digital Underground is where Parliament left off," Shock G told The New York Times in 1991.
The group released their debut album, Sex Packets, in 1990 under Tommy Boy Records, which featured the breakout cut, "The Humpty Dance." The track and its accompanying video birthed a parodic and nasally alter ego, "Humpty Hump," who Shock G leaned into throughout his career.
The Humpty Dance was the group's most successful track. During performances, Shock G regularly swayed to the stage in his iconic costume, wearing a tie, fur hat, oversized glasses, and fake nose from a party store.
In 1991, the group introduced the world to Tupac Shakur. After a series of hard-hitting verses with the Digital Underground, Tupac began recording his solo album, "2Pacalypse Now," an album which Shock G co-produced for Interscope Records.
The group would release seven projects, while Shock G released a solo project in 2004, Fear of a Mixed Planet.
His transformational production style simultaneously sampled and stitched together a patchwork of funk royalty but also showcased his sonic genius beyond sampling.
Perhaps most famously, on Tupac's 1993 hit, "I Get Around," Shock G highlighted effervescent California cool by synthesizing an irreplicable west coast ambiance, peppering rolling piano licks and chords over samples that paired perfectly with the playful and wise lyrical delivery of his guest verse on the track.
In the video for the track, Shock G lounged poolside in shades and a purple shirt, sharing a glimpse of the good life with a dose of his day-to-day life: "Now you can tell from my everyday fits I ain't rich/So cease and desist with them tricks/I'm just another Black man caught up in the mix/Tryna make a dollar out of 15 cents."
His sound and mischievous willingness to bend the old into the new inspired many other groups and artists.
Shock G is survived by his parents, his sister, Elizabeth Racker, and his brother, Kent Racker.