Tribute to Shock G of Digital Underground: The Best of Peanut Hakeem Anafu Washington Penned By Chris Daly (YouTube Playlist)
In a year of seemingly unending Hip-Hop artist deaths, [Thursday] night was a particularly rough blow to Gen X Rap old heads with the passing of Shock G AKA Humpty Hump AKA Gregory Edward Jacobs. While reviewing Twitter [Thursday] night, it became immediately clear that too many folks born post-1990 didn't really know who he was, beyond his one massive hit. This following list is intended to educate, entertain and elucidate.
No list of Shock G tracks would be complete without Digital Underground (D.U.)'s explosive two singles from their debut album, Sex Packets. Yes, these, obviously, are party tracks intended to get a$$es shaking, but listen to the lyrics and you'll quickly find surprising depth. The message is deceptively simple—don't let others dictate who you are or how you should feel. Fat, skinny, fake-nosed—all were welcome at a D.U. party.
Without Shock G, the world may well never have been introduced to Tupac Shakur. Originally enlisted as a back-up dancer and roadie, 2pac would quickly prove himself as one of the all-time G.O.A.T.'s. Even in these earliest tracks, Shakur would demonstrate uncanny lyrical abilities, but note how well Jacobs reacts and responds. This is a play of equals, neither star yet outshining the other. And as with all things Hump, these tracks are as fun as they are Funky.
While the world needs another pre-Presidency Trump reference like it needs a hole in its head, this track conveys an overwhelmingly pro-Black body positivity message. What could have been nothing more than a silly throw-away track, instead, is a scathing indictment of an image-obsessed America that would rather poison its children’s minds than accept that beauty is far more than skin-deep. Pretty heady stuff for a guy who promoted “getting busy” in Burger King bathrooms.
There are exceptionally few successful Rap "love songs." Sadly, there are a dozen or more [LL Cool J] "I Need Love" jams for every [A Tribe Called Quest] "Bonita Applebaum." Shock successfully threads the needle, going so far as to utilize different personas throughout the track.
While sun, fun, and good times were the natural playground for Digital Underground, this is not to say they couldn't roll hard as f**k when the mood struck them. A hustler’s tale told over booming bass and stabbing keys, it, also, serves as an early version of Urban Dictionary for the pimp crowd.
Much like [ex-The Pharcyde emcee] Fatlip's The Loneliest Punk, Shock’s solo work is criminally underrated. Listen and try to disagree. This is crazy clever wordplay.
That's right, Peanut Hakeem Anafu Washington even worked with none other than Prince himself. Lest you think this just was some random remix, Prince himself selected this track for his Crystal Ball [Box] Set. Generally, to even question whether someone could make a Prince jam even better is heresy, but this might be the exception to the rule. Dare I say it's "better" than the original?