An Alternative Hip Hop group from Oakland, California, Digital Underground began in 1987 as a Political Rap group, with an image intended to pay tribute to the Black Panthers. One year later, Public Enemy released their second album, It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back, to a huge amount of critical acclaim and commercial success, which led Digital Underground to abandon its original political ambitions and become a humor-laden Parliament/Funkadelic-inspired group, with leader Shock G often seen with novelty Groucho Marx glasses.
Digital Underground is best known for "The Humpty Dance", performed by Shock G's alter-ego, Humpty Hump (a Loveable Sex Maniac who looks like a cross between a pimp and Groucho Marx), in which Humpty raps about having sex in a Burger King bathroomnote , flirts with a fat girl, and says that he looks like MC Hammer on crack. Digital Underground is also recognized for their One-Scene Wonder appearance in Dan Aykroyd's movie Nothing but Trouble. The movie, Aykroyd's music video for the group's tune "Same Song" and the EP This Is an EP Release, featured a then-unknown Tupac Shakur as a member of the group; Tupac would later go on to become one of the most successful Gangsta Rap artists in history, and a defining artist of the 1990s.
Digital Underground disbanded in 2008, after 21 years of touring and releases. The group remains a cult favorite among Alternative Hip Hop fans for their whimsical, lighthearted approach and Funky sound. Any hopes of a reunion someday were put to rest in April 2021, when Shock G suddenly passed away at 57.
"The Humpty Dance" has been sampled (frequently, without credit of any kind) by numerous musicians, including Public Enemy, Ice Cube (in "Jackin' for Beats"), LL Cool J, Spice Girls (yes, really) and Marky Mark. It was also covered by the rap group Wolfpac, and became a Black Sheep Hit for that group, because it was the only track on Wolfpac's album that wasn't grotesque Horrorcore. Because so many people sampled "The Humpty Dance", Digital Underground released a song called "The Humpty Dance Awards" (on their fourth album, The Body Hat Syndrome) as a way to thank many of the artists who sampled it.
- Sex Packets (1990)
- This Is An EP Release (1991)
- Sons Of The P (1991)
- The Body-Hat Syndrome (1993)
- Future Rhythm (1996)
- Who Got The Gravy? (1998)
- The Lost Files (1999)
- ..Cuz A D.U. Party Don't Stop!! (2008)
- The Greenlight EP (2010)
- Concept Album: Sex Packets
- The Casino: "Hip Hop Doll" is centered around a guy who meets a girl at a casino and she helps him win at a craps table.
- Dance Sensation: Do the Humpty Hump, everybody do the Humpty Hump! "It's real easy to do, check it out..."First I limp to the side like my leg was broken, shakin' and twitchin' kinda like I was smokin'
Crazy, wack, funky / People say "You look like MC Hammer on crack, Humpty!"
That's alright, cuz my body's in motion / It's supposed to look like a fit or a convulsion
- A Date with Rosie Palms: "Jerkit Circus." The intro to the song introduces the place under a hurricane of masturbation puns: "The only place where you can be without a partner, and still have a ball," "A place where you can learn the art of making love at the Palms," "Where they're short on screws, but there's always plenty of nuts," and "A place where you can hold your sausage hostage."
- "Sex Packets" may also count as a handsfree version.
- Epic Rocking: A good number of their songs hit or exceed the six-minute mark, including "The Humpty Dance", which comes in at about six and a half minutes long on the CD of Sex Packets. "Doowutchyalike" is even longer, approaching nine minutes on the same release. A complete list of examples would get quite long, particularly given the many different mixes some of these songs have appeared in.
- Fake-Out Fade-Out: Subverted on "Doowutchyalike". The mid-song fade-out is actually announced.Radio stations may begin your fade here. For those that would like help, we will start your fade for you.
- Gag Nose: Humpty Hump, of course, leading to Sons of the P's "No Nose Job."
- Intercourse with You: Many offerings; "Freaks Of The Industry" is the best example.
- Loony Fan: "Brand Nu Swetta" was about members of the group dealing with clingy groupies.
- Man of a Thousand Voices: Shock G, who also plays Humpty Hump and a lesser-known character called MC Blowfish.
- A Party, Also Known as an Orgy: The overall mood of "Doowutchyalike," especially in the music video.
- The video for "Return of the Crazy One" also counts.
- Perfectly Cromulent Word: "I'll use a word that don't mean nothin', like looptid."
- Sound-Effect Bleep: Zigzagged all over the "Humpty Dance" video. "Burger King" in the line "I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom" was bleeped out with a standard bleep used in many a TV show whenever someone says something obscene or of a delicate nature. However, lines like "I'm still gettin' in the girls' pants" had "girls' pants" replaced with a car horn honking twice (which went nicely with the visual of Humpty Hump grabbing a woman's butt), "In a 69, my Humpty nose will tickle your rear," had "69" replaced with a record scratch and "rear" replaced with a woman's scream, and "I get laid by the ladies," had "laid" bleeped out with a tires screeching sound effect.
- One radio edit of "Freaks Of The Industry" inserts different sound effects in place of the more sexually explicit lyrics.
- Spiritual Successor: Digital Underground had been regarded as the heir apparent to the funk style of Parliament/Funkadelic. George Clinton pretty much made it official by showing up on their second album Sons Of The P.
- Subverted Rhyme Every Occasion: From "Doowutchyalike":Homegirls, for once, forget you got class
See a guy you like? Just grab him in the biscuits!
If you're hungry, get yourself something to eat
- Earlier on in the song:
And if you're dirty, then go take a bath
Messed up the line? No, sometimes I don't rhyme