Thursday Throwback: Digital Underground

As HipHop has moved farther and farther away from it's organic roots as a community uniter and street documentarian into commercial success and business opportunities, HipHop fans have grown more accepting of the fact that most rappers are characters. I'm not suggesting that everyone is acting, but as the curtain that once completely hid string pullers and image consultants from the public gets pulled back, the more fans have come to understand that the game is filled with "white lies" and stretchings of the truth.

One of the most entertaining characters in HipHop was Humpty Hump, the egomaniacal alter ego to Digital Underground's Shock G. In 1990, the Oakland-based crew burst onto the scene on the strength of two singles. The first of which was:


The second single from the album became the biggest hit of their career, It also certified Humpty in the history books.

Humpty Hump

The exercise of "underrated" is probably well beyond it's tipping point, but I think it's important to recognize Digital Underground as a group, and Shock G individually, for their contribution to HipHop. Not only did they produce one of the greatest party jams of all time, but they also introduced one of HipHop's most humorous characters of all time.

As an add on, I think Shock G deserves extra credit for creating a persona that truly lived a life of it's own. Humpty was more than a pair of lensless glasses and funny nose. Humpty was a person to the core. He had a completely different swagger, and his expressive flow was virtually the opposite of Shock G's laid back delivery.

When I first got hip to DU, I really thought that they were two separate people. The fact that they were never on camera at the same time never dawned on me. It's been almost 20 years (Wait, 20 yrs? Already?), so I don't remember exactly how I found out that they were one in the same, but I can tell you I was dumbfounded. I would have bet my entire allowance on them being two different people. Luckily, I didn't.

While characters will forever run prevalent in HipHop, none will ever be able to match the character that is Humpty Hump.


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