HHS: Let’s start from the beginning – tell us how you hooked up with Macola Records for “Underwater Rhymes”?
Shock: My manager at the time Atron Gregory quarterbacked that. I always stress to aspiring artists the importance of having a manager. It shows that at least one person other than yourself believes in you and is willing to spend his own precious time and efforts on your project. Just you yourself believing in you is not enuff. Of course you believe in you, you’re you. Of course you think you got a hit, you wrote it. Of course you love it, it’s you.
Why did you decide to invent characters like MC Blowfish and Humpty Hump rather than just doing Shock G? Do you feel you “created a monster” with Hump?
It wasn’t a why should I thing, it was more of a why not? I once read a quote from George Clinton saying “Characters live longer than real humans do, look at bugs bunny, still young and funny as ever.” Humpty was a rapper that I wanted to see, but nobody else was doin it, so I just did it myself.
How long were you able to successfully hide the fact that you and Humpty Hump were one in the same? Do you have any good stories of industry people or fans being fooled by your duality in person?
It still goes on today. I’ll spend an hour choppin it with a cat backstage, going in and out of the voice and other Humptyisms, and then out of the blue he’ll say “so is the guy wit the nose coming tonight?” and be dead-ass serious and eager to meet him. When we showed up with my true-life younger brother dressed as Humpty at the Arsenio Hall show to do “Same Gang” with NWA, ..Easy-E & Mike Conception was both like “wait a minute, what da fuck is goin on, I was just talkin to Shock-G dressed as Humpty and then Shock-G walked up!!”
As far as your deal with Tommy Boy was concerned, on paper was Digital Underground just Greg Jacobs? Or were you collecting checks for Eddie Humphrey as well?
Eddie Humphrey, Shock-G, Humpty Hump, M.C. Blowfish, S. Bocaj (jacobs backwards), P. Washington (Peanut Hakeem Anafu Washington), Piano Man, and DFlo-production squad are all registered with BMI as A.K.A.s for Greg Jacobs so that I can collect & keep track of my publishing & writers royalties. Only I signed with Tommy Boy, not the other d.u. members, Pac, Money-B, etc. This was a move we learned from George Clinton so that we didn’t tie-up the whole click on one label. George had what was basically one group signed to about 6 different labels, as Funkadelic here, as Parliament there, as the Brides of Funkenstein, as Bootsies Rubber Band, etc. So we tried to do the same thing with Raw Fusion on Hollywood Basic, Pac on Interscope, Saafir on Quest, etc., though we all still worked on all the albums.
Everybody has their Tommy Boy horror stories and disses, from De La Soul to Naughty By Nature to Nore. How was your experience?
I got nothing against Tom & Monica, they were just business people being true to what they do just as we we’re trying to be artists. Tommy Boys’ style was to keep it hot, blazing, new, trendy & pop, so once your trendiness began to wear off, so did their attention & effort in you. Can’t turn around n blame ‘em for that though, because when I was new & trendy, we loved all the attention and support. Queen Latifah, Treach, De La, myself & others are all fairly established in the game now and we all owe our start to Tommy Boy Records.
One way I did tease Tom over the years was that his label was a freak show, all weirdos n misfits. He had Africa Bambaata the spaced-out inter-galactic emcee, Stetsasonic a hip-hop “band”, Queen Latifah who at the time was one of the rare few bisexual female-rappers, Humpty-Hump a plastic nose & plaid suit wearing rapper, De La Soul the hippie rappers, and Rupaul the transvestite. Tommy Boy Records, the circus of the industry! Hee hee.
Obviously you probably get asked about 2Pac all the time, but what was your relationship like with him after he left Digital to persue his solo
Like an ambitious family member who went on to become extremely popular, busy & successful. The love & support of each other never died, but the day-to-day communication was just not possible. On those rare occasions when we would cross paths, like once or twice a year and usually to work rather than socialize, we would simply pick up where we left off, comfortably & casually as if we never stopped. I tried not to fuss & sweat him too much because I knew what he was going through and it was the last thing he needed or wanted more of.
On your new album, Fear of a Mixed Planet, why did you decide to use the moniker Shock G, rather than Digital Underground? Will you continue to work as Shock, or will you release future records as DU?
Can’t know, let’s just see.
How do you feel the new material differs from the old material – or do you feel that it has not changed?
Hopefully a little wiser overall as we’ve matured a bit and seen alot over the years. I tried to dump some of that wisdom into the new stuff without being preachy or arrogant. In hindsight, I was alittle big-headed and aloof in peak d.u. times. I made a serious effort to come down out of the clouds and be more conscious and connected to the world this time around. When I realized how much of what we say & do was influencing the youth, I started to watch what I promote, and try to guide them or at least nudge them into being thoughtfull and careful with their futures. Being the freak of the industry, drinking all the Hennessey you got on the shelf, and getting loose in a bathroom can all leave you ass-out in the world if you’re not careful and selective. And even some of Pacs advise wasn’t all good in my opinion. We all loved Pac for his courage & fearlessness, and yes, stand your ground and be strong about what you believe in, but always being the first to blast is not necessarily good advise. Being the first to blast is usually a no win situation. You either kill, wound, or get killed or wounded; either way your future is fucked. There’s alot of alchoholics & sex addicts out there who are my fault. There are also alot of young people in prison who are Easy-Es and Pacs fault. We make it look fun & survivable, but for many it’s a trap. Choose your path wisely young shorties out there. Think before you act. Not every cause, insult, or attack to your pride is worth throwing your future away.
What is the story behind the ultra hard to find release, Digital Underground “The Lost Tapes” – why was it so rare?
It’s nothing. Those are mostly throw-aways that didn’t make the albums for a reason. If you’re really into us, I guess it’s something to have, sorta like bloopers and experiments. I don’t know where to get that stuff, it’s mostly bootleg anyway.
You’ve been working a lot with Murs on tour and on the song “Risky Business” – how did you hook up with him? Would you ever consider producing an entire album or at least EP with him?
If Murs asked that of me I’d have to do it. The question is, could we keep it consistantly dope & interesting? Hmmm, I believe so. If any label, investor or executive producer also thinks so, get at us (Murs & I) with a budget and we’ll make it happen. I’m sure Murs will pull in a great guest emcee or 2 or 3. And I’d be open to collab with the producers & musicians of his choice cause he usually makes good decisions about stuff like that. But we’ll need doe to pull it off comfortably. Otherwise we gotta keep doin what we know will feed us which is whatever we’re doin at the moment. That’s the reality. We’re still just regular grown men with lives, families, bills, debts, and responsibilities. I met Murs in Tucsan at a hip-hop night in a small bar around the corner from his record store in like 2001 or 2. His Murs Rules the World album was so refreshing & intelligent to me that I just had to touch down on something with him if the opportunity ever arose and it did about a year later in LA. I was relocating to LA at the time, living with a friend and looking for a place, when he hit me up online and we just made it happen. He made it real easy and provided a cool low-key spot where we could get it done, a small garage studio with adequate equipment and a smooth engineer. Him & Murs were both humble & friendly and the vibe was good & lite. We joked & got our drink on that night. I hid the fact that I was nervous inside and eager to lay something good. I had to pull it off cause I have alot of respect for what the Living Legends and Mystic Journeymen do and it was the first time in awhile that anyone from those types of cliks got at me. I felt like I was representin for all major-label crossover-rappers who didn’t plan to be pop, but just wound up out there. Most of us know we could of wound up in the underground freestyle world just as easily as any of them can wind up on radio; it’s a thin line. Murs & I got along so Jah blessed. The topic, title & concept was all his idea. The track was mine, an original but obviously a sequel to the Freaks of the Industry beat.
What is your best Digital Underground memory?
The Doowutchyalike motel party & video shoot weekend in downtown Oakland, no question. It’s not that the party was so much better than the others, (the Humpty Dance shoot at Club Townsend in San Fran, the Sex Packets album release party- westcoast, the Sex Packets release party- eastcoast, the I Get Around pool party at the mansion in Malibu, the Return of the Crazy One party/shoot- in the warehouse in San Francisco, the Sex n the Studio party/DVD shoot in that Belly styled hollywood mansion, the Murs Risky Business shoot at the former Wutang mansion in LA, etc.), they we’re all fun parties. It’s because the Doowutchyalike shoot was our first legitimate filmed industry function, our first taste of an entire record company and film crew fussing all over us and fullfilling our every request. It’s the most satisfying feeling in the world to have your art validated to the point of a huge production staff all following you around and sweating your creative ideas. The 3-days of half-naked chicks, music & homies didn’t hurt either.
I remember something about Sex Packets that the tape had more tracks than the CD – what tracks were omitted from the CD and why?
No reason other than CDs were limited to 70 minutes back then but cassettes could go longer. “Hip Hop Doll” and “Tribute to the Early days” were chosen because one was already released as a B side to the pre-album Doowutchyalike single, and the other was just an ol’skool cassette jam taped off Kenny Ks radio show in 1986 or so. Me, Kenny-K (Kenneth Waters, R.I.P.), The MD Dazzlin Doc-P, and an emcee named Skoobie used to call ourselves The 4 Horseman and would do routines over the air on 88.5 WMNF in Tampa back in the day. That was one of those recordings.
On the new album, you speak about race pretty openly. Why were these issues not touched upon as heavily on your previous albums?
“Now red white tan black yellow or brown, it really doesn’t matter we can all get down and do what we like…”
“Black people, white people, Puerto Ricans, Samoans, do the Humpty Hump”
I think that is because I was still part of the sleeping masses perpetuating color distinctions and divisions, subliminally without even realizing it. The biggest stronghold of racism & discrimination is in our own minds, our inability to simply refuse to catorgorize each other that way. Everytime a magazine, newspaper, TV spokesperson, familymember, or official refers to a person as a color, everysingle time we refer to a person as black or white, we’ve contributed to keeping a line between the two. Everytime we pair up couples that way in films & TV shows, we’re quietly teaching the youth who they’re “allowed” to date or interact with. Just like all the other animals, newborns don’t make that distinction, untill they learn it from us. Otherwise people would pair up according to their interests and lifestyles which is what nature would have us do in the absence our cancerous color divisions. Active kids would run & play together, quieter kids would chill, wanderers would wander together and so forth. And later as adults the same thing would apply, bookworms would meet in the library, scientisists in the lab, athletes on the field, etc. A father would first expect his outdoorsey daughter to come home with another active outdoorsey person, before he expected her to link with a person of the same color. What in the world has color got to do with anything?
Put it this way, some people have the characteristics of a sports car, fast & racey, and others are more like a van or sport utility vehicle, helpful & practical. If your into sports cars, a viper of any color will make you happier then a van of any color, right? But because we put so much emphasis on color, most humans wind up with a bad choice in mating, and a person who seeks a “luxury car” winds up making babies with a ” pickup truck”.
..But it was the right color!
Which one of your songs would you say your from your entire career is? What song would you say is your least favorite?
Can’t know. It’s all moods and perspectives. When I’m chillin with a woman I’m proud of “I Get Around” or “Kiss You Back”, but when I’m chillin with the Arch Bishop Magic Don Juan, I’m proud of “Good Thing We’re Rappin”. When I’m wit Heather Hunter or India (porn actresses) it’s “Freaks of the Industry”, but when I’m wit Moms it’s “Wussup Wit the Luv” or “All in the Same Gang”. When I’m alone it’s “Jerkit Circus”.
Who are your dream artists to work with in hip-hop and outside of hip-hop?
Lauryn Hill, Fionna Apple, RZA, Avril Lavigne, or Kool Keith. He’s insane, I like that in a person. I like the total artists, the singer-songwriters, the self produced people who present a whole unique aura in their own world. Prince, RZA, Andre3000. I wouldn’t mind being Humpty on a Beastie Boys song, that would be filthy. I wanna do a song with with Luci Liu. I bet she’s got a great flow. Hey Luc, if I made a beat for you would you do it? I would give you my best!
What can we expect in the future from Shock G?
Better posture and a more grateful attitude. I been doin some yoga & learning to meditate.
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- T.I. – “Don’t Tell ‘Em (Remix)”
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- Tree – “Columbia (Remix)”
- Lil Kim – “Fancy (Freestyle)”
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