Shock G, real name Gregory Edward Jacobs, was found dead on 22 April 2021 in a hotel room in Tampa, Florida, US, aged 57. There is little known about the cause of his death as the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office is yet to provide the details.
However, there are unverified claims online that Shock G died of heart disease. How did he come to be one of the most respected names in hip hop, with his death causing worldwide sobriety?
Starting his adventure into the world of music at 15, Jacobs won the 1978 “Most Talented” trophy at Greco Junior High School as a drummer. He later dropped out of school and started a DJ crew called Master Blasters as Shock-G. Young Jacobs got to perform at parties, outdoor gatherings and even got to work at WTMP radio in the early 80s at 16.
Eventually, he returned to school and obtained a diploma certification in music theory from Hillsborough Community College. He also learned to play the piano and met Kenneth Waters, who became his buddy and co-performer.
Shock G eventually got a foot into the hip hop international community when he formed Digital Underground along with Chopmaster J and his old friend Waters. The group finally got themselves into the rap community’s doorway with their 1988 12-inch single featuring “Your Life’s a Cartoon” as the A-side and “Underwater Rimes” as the B-side.
Here are the top five highlights of his career ranked according to their popularity:
1. Produced 2Pac’s “I Get Around”
Shock G is mostly known for producing Tupac Shakur’s breakthrough platinum single “I Get Around” and he also got a guest appearance on its video as well. Additionally, he was one of the credited producers on 2Pac’s multi-platinum 1995 album “Me Against the World”, notably, the track “So Many Tears”.
His connection with the hip hop icon goes even deeper as Shakur’s first-ever published work came while he was still a member of Shock G’s Digital Underground.
2. “The Humpty Dance” 1990
Singing as Humpty Hump, Shock G provided the vocals for the 1990 hit single “The Humpty Dance” off Digital Underground’s debut album “Sex Packets”. The song reached No. 11 on the pop chart, No. 7 on the R&B chart, and No. 1 on the Billboard Rap Singles chart.
Several years later in 2008, it was ranked No. 30 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop and No. 65 on VH1’s 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s in 2007. It was also nominated for Best Rap Video at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards but lost to “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.
When news of his death spread, there was renewed interest in this song with many posting about the memories it holds for them.
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
Shock G was such a huge talent AND personality. To pull off the whole Humpty persona…..then, producing ALLLL of Digital Underground’s hits (Humpty dance, Same ole song, Freaks of the industry) AND Pac “I get around” and “So many tears.” And he could play keys for real.
— DJ R-Tistic (@DJRTistic) April 23, 2021
3. Rackadelic, Piano Man, Humpty Hump and other personas
Gregory Edward Jacobs was a multi-talented artist with a skill set that many critics in the hip hop laud. To differentiate his contributions to different arts, he used several personas or monikers. Thus, when he was illustrating album covers and other graphic arts, he went as “Rackadelic”. He used the “Piano Man” name when he contributed keyboard tracks and music production while “Humpty Hump” is the go-to persona for nasal voice performances, colourful clothes and Groucho glasses-and-nose disguises.
4. TV and film appearances
He has appeared on several TV shows like 1992 “Showtime at the Apollo”, “The Arsenio Hall Show”, and many MTV performances. Shock G got a cameo role on an episode of the 1991 sitcom “Drexell’s Class” as a furnace repairman and the 1991 black comedy horror film “Nothing but Trouble.”
His commentary and input are important aspects of the 2000 documentary about 2Pac titled “Thug Angel: Life of an Outlaw” and the 1996 documentary about George Clinton & P-Funk named “Parliament Funkadelic: One Nation Under a Groove.” Comedians Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer featured him on an episode of the podcast “You Had To Be There” in June 2011.
5. President Barack Obama inauguration
At the January 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama as the US President, Shock G’s “Cherry Flava’d Email” was renamed and released as a special edition called “Cherry Flava’d Election” to commemorate the occasion. It was a major honour for the hip hop icon that has been associated with some of the biggest names including Dr Dre, George Clinton, Eazy-E and so on.
He has produced eight albums and 40+ popular songs spanning 1987 to 2004. According to him, Funk music can enter any music genre. “Funk can be rock, funk can be jazz and funk can be soul,” he said in an interview with New York Times before his death.
Shock G still has his parents to mourn him as well as his sister, Elizabeth Racker and his brother, Kent Racker. He was never married and although he had a girlfriend named Davita Watts at one time, it seems he never fathered any children of his own. But all hip hop fans living, are his children. They have all come out to show their love and appreciation for what he has done.