Gregory Jacobs, commonly known by his stage name Shock G (as well as by his alter ego Humpty Hump) is an American musician and rapper, known as the lead vocalist for the hip hop group Digital Underground. He is an accomplished pianist, visual artist, and music producer, 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.
Jacobs spent most of his childhood moving around the East Coast with his family, eventually settling in Tampa, Florida. As a drummer he won the 1978 "Most Talented" trophy at Greco Junior High School, but after relocating to Queens, New York (as a result of his parents' divorce), he traded his drums in for a set of turntables upon discovering and marvelling over hip hop while the art form was still in an underground developmental stage. He was mentored in the craft by his cousin Rene Negron (a.k.a. DJ-Stretch), and their close friend Shawn Trone (a.k.a. MC Shah-T of the parody-rap group No Face) who suggested Greg use the name "Shah-G". Jacobs liked the idea, but mistakenly thought his friend said "Shock-G", and began using that name instead.
Less than two years later - after returning to Tampa - he dropped out of Chamberlain High School to form the Master Blasters, a mobile deejay crew which featured three DJs and four emcees at its height. They performed at parties, and also for the crowds at Riverfront Park's outdoor Sunday gatherings, eventually capturing the interest of Tony Stone, a program director at WTMP radio, which was the city's primary R&B station. Tony offered Jacobs, who was sixteen at the time, a job deejaying on the air, and for a short while, as "Gregory Racker", he was the youngest radio personality in central Florida with a regular time slot. After being fired for playing the fifteen-minute-long album version of "(Not Just) Knee Deep" by Funkadelic in a five-minute time slot, and also after tensions with his father escalated, Jacobs found himself backpacking the United States for a few years, drifting through odd jobs and petty criminal adventures. It was during this excursion that his focus switched from deejaying to keyboard playing, and while utilizing piano practice-rooms at music stores and colleges around the country, he effectively taught himself to play the piano.
Deciding to pursue music seriously, he returned home, quickly obtained a diploma, and began attending Hillsborough Community College, where he studied music theory under Jim Burge and piano under Patricia J. Trice. It was there at HCC that he met and formed a bond with Kenneth Waters, and the two began performing together under various names including The Chill Factor, and also The Four Horsemen, which included MC Skoobie-D, and the MD Dazzlin Doc-P who had recently moved to Tampa from the Bronx, hip hop's birthplace. Then in 1985, after two years of producing local artists for hire, playing solo piano gigs around town, performing with Kenny, and being a keyboardist in Warren Allen Brooks' band, Greg and his aspiring-actress girlfriend (Davita Watts) set their sights beyond Tampa, and eloped to Los Angeles in search of greater opportunity. There he played keyboards in Kenny McCloud's pop-funk band Onyx before leaving Los Angeles and finally arriving in the San Francisco bay area where he found work in an Oakland music store, and where Digital Underground would happen a few years later.
Shock G's ethnicity is made up of eight different backgrounds, with each of his great-grandparents being of a different origin. His maternal grandmother is half-Pakistani and half-East Indian (Hindu); his maternal grandfather is half-Jewish and half-Puerto Rican; his paternal grandfather is of half-black (specifically assumed to be Haitian) and half-Trini (Trinidadian) descent; while his paternal grandmother is of half African American (specifically West African) and half-Irish descent. In his song, "Who's Clean", he describes himself as an "Afroricaneuroasiac".
Soon after relocating to Oakland, California, Shock G formed Digital Underground along with Chopmaster J, and the late Kenneth Waters (a.k.a. Kenny-K). After fifteen months or so of unsuccessful negotiations with various small record companies, the trio's first release emerged in 1988 in the form of a 12-inch single on Macola Records which featured "Your Life's a Cartoon" as the A-side and "Underwater Rimes" as the B-side. Due to Kenny-K visiting family in Tampa during the first recording sessions, and to Chopmaster-J being a jazz drummer who was in the process of learning hip hop, both songs were penned, produced, and performed by Jacobs, who also sketched the cartoonish cover illustrations. In addition to Macola's logo, the record displayed the TNT logo which was the start-up label for Digital Underground and Tupac Shakur's management CEO Atron Gregory. In 1989, the group signed with Tommy Boy Records and released "Doowutchyalike", which only received a small amount of radio airplay but became an underground hit, as well as a video hit with MTV, reaching number 40 on the station's top 100 videos of the year. The success of "Doowutchyalike" paved the way for Digital Underground's debut album Sex Packets and the highest charting song of their career "The Humpty Dance" both released in early 1990, and both achieving platinum sales certifications by the RIAA. The latter was rapped by "Humpty Hump," the most flamboyant of Shock G's several alter egos. By that time, Digital Underground had expanded significantly, with DJ Fuze, Money-B, and Schmoovy-Schmoov joining the group, and with Ramone "Pee Wee" Gooden and Tupac Shakur joining by 1991.
Throughout Shock G's rapping career, he created several aliases, resulting in characters that were maintained with such reality, they were believed to be actual living people by music fans as well as industry insiders.
As "Rackadelic" he illustrated album covers and provided art direction; as the "Piano Man" he contributed keyboard tracks and music production. His main persona "Shock G" utilized a more natural voice, while he altered his voice to become "Humpty Hump", an iconic character with an overexagerrated buffoon persona, colorful clothes, and a Groucho glasses-and-nose disguise. He used a nasal voice for the character Humpty. At most public appearances, Jacobs would show up as one person or the other, but at live shows and video shoots he would use a stand-in or camera tricks to maintain the illusion. A fictional biography was constructed for Humpty, the story being that Edward Ellington Humphrey III, former lead singer of "Smooth Eddie and the Humpers," had become a rapper after burning his nose in a kitchen accident with a deep-fryer. Jacobs also sometimes performs as other characters including MC Blowfish, Icey-Michael Boston, The Computer Woman, ButtaFly, and Peanut Hakeem.
Television and film work:
Shock G's TV appearances include Showtime at the Apollo in 1992, several The Arsenio Hall Show performances between 1990 and 1994, and several live MTV performances, including MTV Spring Break 1990 in Daytona Beach, Yo MTV Raps (performing live with Ed Lover and Doctor Dré) in 1991, Club MTV Live (with Downtown Julie Brown) in 1992, and MTV Jams in 1994. Most of these consisted of music performances with either Digital Underground or 2Pac, however, on an episode of the 1991 sitcom Drexell's Class Jacobs played a small acting role as a furnace repairman. Within the show's story, the title character, Otis Drexell, insists that the furnace repairman looks exactly like Humpty Hump, but both himself and his coworker (Jason Priestly), have never heard of any such hip-hop artist, especially not one with such a ridiculous name. The episode ends with a live performance of Digital Underground's "No Nose Job" on a cruise ship full of Sports Illustrated swimsuit models, which is presented as a scene from one of Mr. Drexell's dreams.,
With his Digital Underground band members, Jacobs appeared in the Dan Aykroyd directed comedy Nothing but Trouble appearing as both Shock-G and Humpty Hump. The group makes a cameo music performance, as well as play a small character role in the film as themselves. Since then, Jacobs has appeared in a handful of music documentaries, including Thug Angel: Life of an Outlaw (2000) about Tupac Shakur, and Parliament Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove (1996) about George Clinton & P-Funk, both of which received heavy TV rotation, and both of which relied heavily on Jacobs' commentary.
On June 24, 2011, Shock G was featured on an episode of the podcast "You Had To Be There" with comedians Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer.