Digital Underground doesn't really get the respect it deserves, I'd say. They were wildly inventive, balancing silliness with musical chops, and were, arguably, instrumental in starting the wave of George Clinton/Funkadelic-inspired sound that would dominate mid-to-late 90's Hip-Hop. Of course, they, also, introduced us to 2pac and were an integral part of one of the craziest movies of all time, Nothing But Trouble. And Shock G took the Rap alter-ego to new extremes with the Humpty Hump persona, to the point where many people didn't realize they were the same person.
We could assume this was inspirational for Kool Keith & MF DOOM, among many others. A lesser-known alter-ego of Shock's was The Piano Man, who was credited with much of the group's instrumentation and production. As Rackadelic, he created their iconic cover and liner [note] artwork. These alter-egos, also, including MC Blowfish, The Computer Woman, and more, all served to obscure the fact that Shock G was and is an amazingly talented and creative dude and almost singularly responsible for most of Digital Underground's output.
As Hip-Hop became more commercialized throughout the 90's, Digital Underground remained true to its vision, never following trends, only inspiring them. And as a result, they gradually faded from the spotlight, but continued to release uncompromising music up until 2010. Shock G's solo album, 2004's Fear of A Mixed Planet, veered away from some of Digital Underground's defining elements for a more experimental and eclectic sound and had some pretty interesting stuff on it. I'll, also, mention DJ Fuze & Money B, who were NOT Shock G alter-egos. Their side-project, Raw Fuzion, put out a classic album, Live from The Styleetron, which, like the group name and title implies, fused a lot of styles into a sound that was pretty unique for the time.
- Th'Mole (@WEIRDRAP)
Originally Published July 2020