OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Gregory Jacobs, the leader of the Bay Area hip-hop group Digital Underground who fronted the crew in the personas of Shock G and Humpty Hump, has died at age 57, according to social media reports.
The news about the death of Jacobs surfaced early Thursday evening when Digital Underground co-founder, drummer and producer Jimi C. Dright, Jr. – better known as Chopmaster J – posted about Jacobs’ passing.READ MORE: Two Die In East Oakland Sunday Night Shooting
He was reportedly found dead in a Tampa hotel room on Thursday.
“34 years ago almost to the day we had a wild idea we can be a hip hop band and take on the world through it all the dream became a reality and the reality became a nightmare for some,” the post read. “And now he’s awaken from the fame long live shock G Aka Humpty Hump and Rest In Peace my Brotha Greg Jacobs!!!”
Jacobs and Dright, Jr. — along with the late DJ Kenneth Waters (a.k.a. Kenny-K) — started Digital Underground in Oakland in 1987. After releasing its debut 12-inch single “Your Life’s a Cartoon” the following year, the group would sign a deal with Tommy Boy Records to issue its landmark first album, Sex Packets.
Released in 1990, the album leaned heavily on Parliament/Funkadelic not only for samples, but also for its comical aesthetic that included the members portraying various characters and the use of cartoonish, comic book inspired cover art (also created by Jacobs). The group’s membership would grow to include rapper Money-B, DJ Fuze and a young Tupac Shakur, who initially appeared as a dancer onstage and in videos.
The group had a modest club hit with their first single “Doowutchyalike,” but crossed over to MTV and pop chart success with “The Humpty Dance” featuring Jacobs rapping in as humorous alter ego, Humpty Hump. The single reached #11 on the Billboard Hot 100, #7 on the R&B charts, and #1 on the Billboard Rap Singles chart.
Along with labelmates De La Soul who scored similar success with samples of P-Funk tunes and wildly varied, jazz-influenced sounds on their debut record Three Feet High and Rising, Digital Underground mixed DJ production and live instrumentation on Sex Packets, with the album earning positive reviews and platinum sales.READ MORE: Steph Curry, Draymond Green Ready For Play-In Game; Warriors To Take On Lakers Wednesday Night
While the group did not match those commercial heights as their career progressed, Digital Underground put out two more albums and an EP with Tommy Boy before they began producing records independently. Digital Underground would also give Shakur his first exposure as a rapper, appearing on the hit tune “Same Song” prior to moving on to huge solo success and an acting career before his untimely demise in a shootout on the Las Vegas Strip in 1996. Digital Underground’s last album, …Cuz a D.U. Party Don’t Stop came out in 2008.
Jacobs would continue to do production work into the 2000s (he produced several of Shakur’s hit songs), working with Prince, Murs, Dr. Dre and George Clinton. He issued a Shock G solo album in 2004.
Jacobs was known to have a history of drug issues and was arrested in 2017 for possession of drug paraphernalia in Wisconsin while on tour.
So far, no details have been released regarding the circumstances of Jacobs’s death.
A number of artists posted tributes to Jacobs, including P-Funk icons Clinton and Bootsy Collins, fellow Bay Area rapper MC Hammer and hip-hop legends Public Enemy.
Oh No, Not Shock G (and his alter ego Humpty Hump). He helped keep P Funk Alive! He is responsible for Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance", 2Pac's breakthrough single "I Get Around", and co-producer of 2Pac's debut album 2Pacalypse Now. Prayers to family & friends.🙏Dang. pic.twitter.com/51aEAw6nKn
— Bootsy Collins (@Bootsy_Collins) April 23, 2021
🙏🏿 🕊 R.I.P. #ShockG 🕊❤️🙏🏿
The Underground lit up The Game 🔥 Super Talent 👑 Beautiful Musician Incredible Vision 🔥Tupac 👑 Money B. 👑 Bay Area 👑 Town 🕊🕊🕊🕊
— MC HAMMER (@MCHammer) April 23, 2021
— PUBLIC ENEMY (@PublicEnemyFTP) April 23, 2021MORE NEWS: Demonstrators Call on San Francisco to Keep Great Highway Closed to Cars