FANDOM


Digital Underground
Digital Underground 1991
Digital Underground in 1991.
(L-R Top: Pee-Wee, Schmoovy-Schmoov, Bigg Money Odis, Shock G
Bottom: DJ Fuze, Humpty Hump, Money-B, 2Pac)

Also known as

D.U., The Underground Railroad, Tha Underground, D-Flow

Origin

Oakland, California, United States

Genre

Hip hop, alternative hip hop, West Coast hip hop

Years active

1987-2008

Label

Macola (1988)
TNT (1988-1994)
Tommy Boy (1989-1994)
Critique (1996)
Interscope (1998)
Jake (1998-2010)

Past members

Digital Underground was an alternative hip hop group from Oakland, California. Their personnel changed and rotated with each album and tour. Digital Underground's frontman and mainstay was Greg "Shock G" Jacobs, who created the group in 1987 with Jimi "Chopmaster J" Dright and Tampa Bay radio DJ Kenneth "Kenny K" Waters.

Heavily influenced by the various funk bands of the 1970s, Digital Underground sampled such music frequently, which became a defining element of West Coast hip hop. Following the release of their "Doowutchyalike" single and video in the summer of 1989, the group first gained popularity with their song "The Humpty Dance" in 1990. Digital Underground is also notable for the launching the career of member Tupac Shakur, as well as spinning off side projects and solo acts including Raw Fusion, Saafir, and female singer Mystic.

After approximately twenty years of touring, Shock G announced the group would officially disband in 2008. Shortly after that announcement was made, the group also confirmed that their May 2008 album ..Cuz a D.U. Party Don't Stop! would be their last studio album.

HistoryEdit

1987-1988: Formation and beginningsEdit

Gregory "Shock G" Jacobs was born in New York but moved to Tampa Bay, Florida in 1978 at the age of fifteen. In Tampa Bay, he began his career in hip hop while rapping and playing the piano. Jacobs met Tampa Bay radio DJ Kenneth "Kenny K" Waters, and formed a friendship through their shared interest of revolutionaries. Although their original idea of a group was what "Public Enemy would later become", Jacobs instead drew inspiration from his favourite band Parliament-Funkadelic. 

Jacobs moved to Oakland in 1987, and it was there that Digital Underground began. While working as a music store salesman, he met James "Chopmaster J" Dright, who Jacobs described as "the guy with a lot of connects". Jacobs had recorded some demos of himself as material he "wanted to do to send to [his] homies" but left the masters in Dright's cassette player. Dright sent those demo tapes without Jacobs' permission to a friend who worked at Macola Records, who was impressed and invited Jacobs to release a record on the label. However, the deal fell through initially, and Jacobs only succeeded through the help of Antron Gregory, who was the then-manager of N.W.A and would go on to manage 2Pac. Gregory helped Jacobs sign a deal with TNT/Macola in 1988. 

Digital Underground's debut release was the 1988 single "Underwater Rimes"/"Your Life's a Cartoon". The single sold 18,000 copies, and Digital Underground attracted the attention of Virgin Records, Warner Bros. Records and Tommy Boy Entertainment. The group, impressed with the fact that a California-based group were noticed by a New York-based label and because of the other acts on the label, decided to sign with Tommy Boy Records. However, the label wanted to see the group perform live, but group DJ Waters was in Tampa Bay dealing with family problems. Dright, "who was messing with this girl who said she knew a DJ that was pretty good", recommended David "DJ Fuze" Elliott, who was then known as DJ Goldfingers. Elliott agreed to join the group, but only on the condition that he could bring with him Ronald "Money-B" Brooks, as the two were a duo under the name MGM (which would be renamed as Raw Fusion). Digital Underground, consisting of Jacobs, Dright, Elliott and Brooks, opened up for labelmate Queen Latifah and group EPMD in Germany, and impressed Tommy Boy Records with their performance and were able to release a single on the label.

1989-1991: Commercial breakthrough, Sex Packets and Sons of the PEdit

"Doowutchyalike" was the group's major label debut single. The song notably features the debut of Shock G's character Humpty Hump, who is a naselly-voiced, overly-energetic ladies man who wears a Groucho Marx nose. Released with a music video that was filmed at a "three-day party at a hotel in downtown Oakland", the single sold 90,000 copies, and Digital Underground were invited to release an album on the label. Tommy Boy signed the group for $60,000, and the group recorded their debut album over the course of two weeks on a budget of $20,000 at Starlight Sound in Richmond, California. Digital Underground then embarked on a two-month tour of Europe from October 1989 to January 1991. During this time, "The Humpty Dance", an autobiography of Humpty Hump, was released as the group's second single, which propelled itself to #11 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #7 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs charts. The song was eventually certified platinum in sales by the RIAA. As Shock G puts it, "we left as frogs but we came back as princes", describing the group's launch to sudden superstardom. 

Following the huge success of "The Humpty Dance", Digital Underground's debut studio album, Sex Packets, was released in March 1990. The album is heavily influenced by Parliament-Funkadelic, and includes samples from the group mixed with live instrumentation performed by Digital Underground members. It serves as a concept album about sex packets that would allow its recipients to "induce a dream and allow someone to see who they wanted and have sex with them", an idea which was conceived by group member and singer Earl "Schmoovy-Schmoov" Cook. Jacobs is the primary performer on the album, and additionally raps under the alter-egos Humpty Hump and M.C. Blowfish, plays piano under the name The Piano Man, and drew the album artwork as Rackadelic. Sex Packets, primarily driven by the popularity of "The Humpty Dance", peaked at #24 on the Billboard 200 and #8 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. 

After the release of Sex Packets, Digital Underground recorded a guest appearance in the film Nothing but Trouble, which was released in February 1991. The group's members Jacobs, Brooks, Elliott and Tupac Shakur, who had recently joined the group as a roadie, are amongst those who appear in the film. Digital Underground recorded the songs "Tie the Knot" and "Same Song" for the film's soundtrack, the latter of which features the debut commercial appearance of Shakur.

Digital Underground toured with Public Enemy and LL Cool J in late 1990. After they finished their tour, Tommy Boy demanded that the group release another album to capitalise on their success of their debut. Jacobs told the label that the group was unable to make an album that fast, so Tommy Boy instead settled for an EP, which eventually became This Is an EP Release. The EP features the two songs that appeared on the Nothing but Trouble soundtrack, two remixes of songs from Sex Packets ("The Way We Swing" and "Packet Man"), and two original songs ("Nuttin' nis Funky" and "Arguin' on the Funk"; the latter is a spoken track and features no rapping). Despite the lack of new material, the album performed well commercially, reaching #29 on the Billboard 200 and #7 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums charts. However, Jacobs considered the fact that the album did not have a concept as a "sin". 

DiscographyEdit

External linksEdit

Ad blocker interference detected!


Wikia is a free-to-use site that makes money from advertising. We have a modified experience for viewers using ad blockers

Wikia is not accessible if you’ve made further modifications. Remove the custom ad blocker rule(s) and the page will load as expected.