The name Shock G might not ring a bell, but if you’ve ever seen someone shake their hips to “The Humpty Dance,” you’ve witnessed some of his work. G is a member of Digital Underground, the group responsible for introducing us to Tupac Shakur, as well as a handful of others. We spoke with G (Gregory Jacobs) about his musical beginnings, new hip-hop movies, a possible Digital Underground reunion, and what to expect when he performs with Sir Mix-a-Lot, Tha Alkaholiks and more at Foxtail Pool on July 18 as part of the Road to Life Is Beautiful concert series.
You’re a self-proclaimed pianist, visual artist and producer. Which one do you prefer, and what are you working on right now?
I play the piano more than anything. I say I’d do that about 80 percent more than the others. The other time is split between [working on] vocals, drawing, writing blogs, chasing girls, but at the end of the day… [Fiddles with the piano.] I like to learn new things. Listen to this. [Plays a piano rendition of DJ Khaled’s “I’m on One.”] There’s just so much going on musically with the ghost notes, harmonies and all that. That guy is crazy! I think that’s 40 on the beat. And, you know, DJ Khaled! [Laughs.]
What got you into hip-hop and music in general?
It had to do with the females in the household. My mom was from Brooklyn, so there’s that. And my grandma was into jazz—the uptown, Blue Note jazz shit. She’d play songs and tell me, “Listen! They’re workin!” And the radio was always on. When I was 4, my parents would say, “Gregory, come to the room and sing for the adults!” And I would do it.
Then when I was 7 or 8, my father took a job in Tampa, and we moved to Florida. Funkadelic was on the rise, and so was Sly Stone. Up north, they were into the disco Philly flavor. Disco took over the country, and New York led it. It had the city vibe; it was sort of intellectual. Down south, it was gritty. You know, Bobby Womack, Ray Charles, that stuff. CHIC was in the middle—half soul and disco. So I bounced back and fourth and was exposed to both. Then I moved to Oakland in the mid to late ’80s and found my home. It was a blend of hip-hop and P-Funk lovers, and I dug it! Everything I was about, Oakland was about: the way we rhyme, swing—everything.
With the movies Dope and Straight Outta Compton, West Coast hip-hop is once again in the limelight. How do you feel about that?
I love it! (Dope), I haven’t seen it, but I love it. It’s a movie about young hip-hoppers surviving, struggling and overcoming using the art. And when the credits roll, they play my song. The whole thing. It’s been about 15 years [since its release], and anytime [movies] use “The Humpty Dance,” it’s tongue-in-cheek. I remember hearing about a horror movie [House of Wax] Paris Hilton was in, and when [her character] died, the killer pulled out the iPod and she was listening to “The Humpty Dance.” I was like “Aww, man!” But this is different. This is real. This is love.
Can we expect to see a Digital Underground movie in the future?
If they came at us right, I’d be down. Most of our stories are victories, and other places are looking for drama. We had four or five years in the limelight; that’s a good run. If you had one record, you were right. Everything was good. [Digital Underground] was a lot of people’s firsts. You already know about ’Pac. The Hughes Brothers’ first project was a music video for DJ Fuse. They’re working on pop videos and films now. Mystic is a Grammy Award-nominated artist. Even Sly Boogy had shit with us. It’s a success story. We had a 0 percent no-show rate. In 25 years, we ain’t flaked on nobody!
Is a Digital Underground reunion in the works?
We took a dime off. We said we’d do it in 2010, so now it’s 2020. [Laughs.] We’re gonna reunite like Voltron! I’m comin’ [to Foxtail] as the Shock G3 Trio. It’s myself, Pee Wee and DJ Fuze [both of Digital Underground]—three crafters on their instruments. We might do anything: ’Pac, Wu Tang, Fiona Apple … We might pull some surprises. There’ll be some moments, where it’s just two turntables and one mic. I’ll be on the keys and drum machine.
How often are you often in Las Vegas, and what’s your favorite part of the city?
I’m there maybe three times a year. I like the pool parties at MGM Grand, Hard Rock Hotel pool … sometimes as the surprise guest of a Playboy party. That type of stuff.
Will you break out the Groucho glasses at Foxtail?
That’s Humpty. You will if he decides to show up. And he hasn’t missed a show, so there’s that.
Do you have any words of advice for the new generation of hip-hop?
Be yourself and do what you like. It’s usually the best thing. Don’t do what everybody else is doing. Do what your heart tells you to do.