With a string of hip-hop greats passing away over the last few months, the sad news emerged that the humorous lyrical master, Shock G of influential Bay Area group Digital Underground was found dead in his Tampa, Florida hotel room at 57. Digital Underground dominated the hip-hop scene in the ’80s and ’90s with their silly and catchy party tracks and gave a young Tupac Shakur his start as a rap recording artist.
Shock G, whose given name was Gregory Edward Jacobs, was a New York City native who lived in Tampa, Florida before moving to Oakland, California where he started Digital Underground with members Money B and DJ Fuze.
The New York Times writes, “Shock G had been shuttling from his home in Tampa to Northern California in 1987 when the group made a self-released single, ‘Underwater Rimes.’ That helped get the attention of Tommy Boy Records, which released Digital Underground’s first album, ‘Sex Packets.’ It was certified platinum for sales of a million copies and featured the hit single ‘The Humpty Dance.’”
The group released their debut album, “Sex Packets” in 1990 in just two weeks. Shock G had several roles on the project as the producer, lead voice and revealed his hilarious alter-ego, Humpty Hump, in the exhilarating and incredibly fun song, “The Humpty Dance.” Digital Underground’s imagination, brightly colored clothes and upbeat hip-hop vibe made listeners elated to latch on to their sound. The album hit #24 on the Billboard charts and they released their first single, “Doowutchyalike.”
One of Shock G’s most defining moments may be on Digital Underground’s “Same Song” which features Tupac Shakur’s recording debut. “Mr. Shakur had auditioned for Shock G and was hired to be a member of the group’s road crew. He eventually performed and recorded with Digital Underground, appearing on the group’s ‘This Is an EP Release’ (Tommy Boy) and ‘Sons of the P’ (Tommy Boy), which was nominated for a Grammy award,” writes The New York Times. Without Digital Underground’s influence, there may not have been a Tupac Shakur. Shock G was featured on Shakur’s 1993 hit, “I Get Around,” launching the young rapper into the height of fame.
Shock G was born in Brooklyn, New York on August 25, 1963. Shock G’s grandmother, Gloria Ali, was a cabaret singer and piano player who performed in Harlem in the 1950s. She taught him how to play piano, giving him a strong foundation in music. His mother, Shirley Kraft, worked as a television producer and his father Edward Racker worked in computer management. The mix between music and technology was embedded into Shock G’s life and when hip hop began to become popular in the 1970s, the rapper traded in his piano for turntables.
Shock G is survived by his mother and father; his brother, Kent Racker, and his sister, Elizabeth Racker.