In a month that has found the hip-hop community wrecked with the losses of Prince Markie Dee of The Fat Boys, DMX, Black Rob — Shock G, the co-founder of Digital Underground, has died at the age of 57.
The rapper, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, born Gregory Jacobs, was found lifeless in a hotel room in Tampa, Florida. According to a statement from Jacobs’ father, Edward Racker, made to TMZ, no cause of death has been determined yet and authorities will conduct an autopsy soon.
Chopmaster J, a friend and fellow co-founder of the iconic Bay Area hip-hop Digital Underground, also confirmed Jacob’s death in an Instagram tribute to the artist.
“34 years ago almost to the day, we had a wild idea [that] we can be a hip-hop band and take on the world,” he wrote. “Through it all the dream became a reality and the reality became a nightmare for some. And now he’s awaken from the fame[.] Long live Shock G, aka Humpty Hump, and rest in peace my brotha Greg Jacobs!!!”
Born in Brooklyn, Jacobs bounced between New York and Tampa as a child. An acolyte of both funk and early hip-hop, Jacobs had a brief stint as a radio DJ while still in high school, and developed a proficiency with a variety of instruments — keyboard, turntables, drums — during an itinerant young adulthood that found him working odd jobs across the country. In 1987, Jacobs relocated from the East Coast to Oakland, California full-time, where he created Digital Underground with Chopmaster J and the late Kenny-K.
Hit singles such as “Doowhutchyalike” and “The Humpty Dance,” the latter which introduced the world to Jacobs’ alter-ego “Humpty Hump,” found huge commercial success, reaching No. 11 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, and proved the group had a level of artistry among the likes of De La Soul, MF Doom, and Prince Paul. In fact, the Humpty guise was so fully developed that many of the group’s early listeners were convinced that Shock G and Humpty Hump were two separate people.
The song’s music video also featured a young Tupac Shakur, who would go on to make his recording debut on Digital Underground’s 1991 single “Same Song”. Though Tupac would eventually find success as a solo artist separate from Digital Underground, the relationship between him and Shock G were “some of the best times of my life,” according to a released statement from the official Twitter account for Shakur, and he would call upon Jacobs to produce his first major hit, “I Get Around” and his 1995 single “So Many Tears” off of Me Against the World.
Since the announcement of his untimely passing, friends and fellow artists and hip-hop luminaries such as MC Hammer, Jhené Aiko, Danyel Smith, Public Enemy, Young Guru, and more paid tribute to the late musical genius.
Rest in peace and beautiful beats, Shock G.