Tampa, FL (April 22, 2021)—Rapper/producer Gregory Jacobs, best-known as the frontman for Nineties hip-hop act Digital Underground, died Thursday of unknown causes. While he had the stage name Shock G, Jacobs used a variety of characters in his music over the years, most notably Humpty Hump, a guise in which he performed the group’s comic hit, “The Humpty Dance,” which went to 11 on Billboard’s Hot 100 in 1990.
Originally born in Brooklyn, NY, Jacobs became fascinated with music early on, learning to play a variety of instruments; he additionally worked as a radio DJ while in high school—a job he claimed he was fired from for playing the full 15-minute version of Funkadelic’s “(Not Just) Knee Deep” on-air.
While working in an Oakland, CA music store in 1987, he teamed up with drummer Jimi Dright who he had sold a passel of recording gear to. Soon Jacobs was Shock G, Dright was Chopmaster J, and the pair released an indie single as Digital Underground, “Underwater Rimes,” which led to them signing with Tommy Boy Records. Jacobs produced “The Humpty Dance” and other hits of the act, including “Same Song,” which gave a feature to the group’s roadie and backup dancer, a young Tupac Shakur, marking his first appearance as a rapper.
Digital Underground continued in various forms over the next 20 years, but during that time, Jacobs also worked with other artists, producing a number of Shakur tracks, including his first hit (which Jacobs also guested on), “I Get Around.” Jacobs went on to produce acts like Bobby Brown, Saafir, Murs and Brand Nubian, and additionally did production and remixes for Prince (“Love Sign” from the Crystal Ball box set) and Monie Love.
According to TMZ, Jacobs was found Thursday, April 21, in a Tampa, FL hotel room and there were no signs of foul play. An autopsy is pending.