Shock G, founding member and lead vocalist of the influential West Coast hip-hop group Digital Underground, has died at the age of 57.
According to TMZ, the rapper was found dead Thursday (April 22nd) in a hotel room in Tampa, Florida. A cause of death was not immediately clear, but there were no signs of trauma.
Gregory Jacobs was born in New York City and raised in Tampa. He initially showed an interest in drums before discovering hip-hop and trading his set in for a turntable. He cut his chops as part of a local mobile DJ crew called Master Blasters, but after getting his college diploma in music theory and meeting future bandmate with Kenneth Waters, he relocated to Oakland, California.
Once out west, Jacobs, now known professionally as “Shock G”, and Waters formed Digital Underground along with drummer and producer Chopmaster J. In contrast to their East Coast contemporaries in Public Enemy, which paired provocative, socially conscious commentary alongside cacophonic beats, Digital Underground opted for a more playful approach. Shock G embodied various personas throughout the group’s tenure, often as exaggerated and colorful characters who spit humorous lyrics overtop productions built around funk music.
The trio’s first notable release came in 1989 with the “Doowutchyalike”. The following year they struck it big with their debut album, Sex Packets, and its chart-topping single “The Humpty Dance”. Beyond its commercial success, “The Humpty Dance” was notable for the appearance of a young Tupac Shakur in the song’s accompanying video.
Shock G would prove to be a musical mentor for Tupac. In January 1991, Tupac made his recorded debut on Digital Underground’s “Same Song”. Later they year, Shock G assisted in the production of Tupac’s debut album, 2Pacalypse Now. Shock G was also featured on Tupac’s 1993 single “I Get Around”.
Digital Underground continued to release albums through the 1990s, but the group’s success waned with the rise of gangster rap. Following a decade hiatus, Digital Hiatus reunited in 2008 for their final album, ..Cuz a D.U. Party Don’t Stop!
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