Shock-G Interview     

Digital Underground
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9/27/2003 3:02:43 AM
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Shock-G Interview
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For those of you who thought Digital Underground's career was six feet underground, think again. The group made a stop on its current U.S. tour on Wednesday night in Terre Haute.

Donning a gray sport coat, white muscle-T, furry purple and green hat and black horn-rimmed glasses with a fake nose, Humpty-Hump and the rest of Digital Underground brought their outrageous basslines and hip-hop funk to more than 200 people at Willy Jak's Beach Club.

"I got that jacket from Goodwill and the hat from a party store here," said frontman Greg Jacobs, a.k.a. "Shock G."

After performing a few hits, Shock G took to the keyboard and laid down some melodies for the audience.

"That's my love," he said after the show as he rubbed a keyboard tattooed on his right forearm.

Digital Underground was hailed for their freshness and creativity in a cliche'd rap scene in the early 1990s by portraying various characters on stage like Shock G's big-nosed Humpty-Hump. As students of George Clinton's landmark band Parliament/Funkadelic, Digital Underground combined elements of rap, funk, theater and visual art to create original records and performances. They struck gold with their 1990 album "Sex Packets" that featured the platinum hits "Humpty Dance" and "Freaks of the Industry."

After eight releases and several gold and platinum records, though, DU seemingly went through a stale phase and consequently was not anywhere near the forefront of pop-culture consciousness.

After talking with Jacobs, better known as "Shock G," this period of inactivity was probably less a stale phase than an incubation stage. His ever-turning wheels of creativity have led to the recent DVD release of a behind-the-scenes-look at Digital Underground called "Digitial Underground: Raw Uncut." In addition, the group is working on a future album tentatively titled "Keep it Beautiful."

"Rappers always say 'keep it real,' and there's something to be said for that," Shock G explained after busting out an acapella number backstage, "but just because we know what's going on in the streets doesn't mean we gotta bring it up all the time. We're trying to keep negativity away from the radio, that's why it's called 'Keep it Beautiful.'"

While Shock G and the rest of his crew hope to inspire many, DU once was the home of one of the most revolutionary figures of the last few generations: Tupac Shakur. Shakur was employed by the band for a brief period before his immensely successful solo career, followed by his untimely death in 1996.

"Tupac's been around for me," Shock G said after DU's performance. "He was the most courageous man I've ever met. He had the most courage and the most heart. He followed simple, almost Taoist teachings."

Wearing a plain white T-shirt and eating Willy Jak's hot wings, Shock G recounted a story in which two large, intoxicated men pulled guns on Tupac in Atlanta. He refused to back down and in self defense wheeled around a car door and outshot the offenders. The two men turned out to be crooked police officers who had no right to threaten Shakur and thus he faced no legal repercussions.

Such things happen in today's world, Shock G said. He expressed concerns with corruptness in American society, referring to it as "a modern day Rome." While the common man may be treated unjustly, he urged people not to be downtrodden and instead to continue to "dance and sing."

Shock G's own dancing and singing started at a young age, when jazz and gospel music constituted a large part of his childhood. From there, he became enamored with George Clinton and Parliament/Funkadelic, from whom he borrowed the idea for different characters within the band.

Shock G's most well-known character is probably the Groucho-Marx-nosed Humpty Humphries III, otherwise known as "Humpty-Hump." It was this personality that Shock G used to popularize "Humpty Dance."

"George Clinton said, 'Charact

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