I remember when my older brother showed me Digital Underground when I was 6 years old. We were downstairs in the basement playing videogames at 2:00 am (I had to sneak down of course) and he would play the dopest Hip-Hop. When he showed me his best of Digital Underground album, I immediately fell in love with Freaks of the Industry, Same Song, Sex Packets, Way We Sing, Underwater Rhymes, Packet Man and of course, The Humpty Dance. My love for them quickly became an obsession, and I searched for as much Digital Underground as I could. Then last year, the most horrible experience to any music fanatic happened to me: the hard drive in my computer crashed.
With my Digital Underground collection simply erased, I had to go back to the drawing board. Recently, I picked up their fifth studio album Future Rhythm, which featured artists such as Del the Funky Homosapien, and Luniz. It’s made up of some my favorite tracks such as Food Fight, Fool Get A Clue and Oregano Flow, but to be honest, every song on this album is incredible. I don’t know when it was that Hip-Hop became what it is today, but no Hip-Hop group or artist in this day and age can compare to their funkiness (Sorry Drake). It was a different time….
If you’ve never listened to Digital Underground, think about jazzy, funky, bluesy alternative beats mixed with P-Funk samples and the smoothest, funkiest, funniest lyrics to ever grace Hip-Hop. Definitely some of the pioneers of the genre, they would sample funk bands of the 1970s, (most of the time Parliament Funkadelic). The band was formed in Oakland, California by Digital Underground leader Greg “Shock G” Jacobs, whose most famous alias was Humpty Hump. When Shock G was working in the keyboard and drum machine section of a music store in Oakland, California, he saw Jimi “Chopmaster J” Dright from Berkelee buy thousands of dollars in equipment and Shock saw opportunity. They soon agreed that if Shock taught Jimi how to use the equipment, he ‘d be allowed to make a demo with it. This demo was then sent to a producer in Los Angeles who oversaw the re recording of it. When it was finally released, the band had grown to include David Elliot a.k.a DJ Fuse and Ronald Brooks a.k.a Money B. Along with Kenneth “Kenny-K” Waters, the band had become a sensation by the 1990s.
With the contrast between the funkadelic style of Shock G’s original model of the band and Money B’s hard Oakland style, the band had a broad audience. They traveled the world on tour performing in Japan, Europe, Canada Australia and the US. Their song Sex Packets made it to #1 on the Billboard Rap Singles and they’re known for starting the rapper Tupac Shakur’s career with his debut on Same Song. Along with all of Digital Underground’s production, Shock G is also noted for co-producing Tupac’s first album 2pacalypse Now, his two singles I Get Around and So Many Tears as well as Murs’ track Risky Business. He’s stated that Digital Underground is a “liquid band”, meaning that it “constantly changes to bring fresh new perspective on Black music”. Unfortunately, the band disbanded in 2008, with “…Cuz A D.U Party Don’t Stop” being their 7th and final studio album.
You can buy Digital Underground’s albums on iTunes.