Rap ruses get no better than Humpty Hump. The alter-ego of Digital Underground's leader Shock G, Humpty's mythology has him wearing a fabulously-personalized Groucho Marx-style nose to cover up horrific facial scars incurred during a (fictional) accident with a deep-fat-fryer and rapping about randy escapades that, according to lyric lore, took place in a Burger King bathroom. The persona has also been a profitable jape: Humpty's anthem, “The Humpty Dance,” was a number one pop hit around the world and has been sampled by over 50 other artists– which presumably means that to this day, Shock's cashing royalty checks from one-time girl-power icons The Spice Girls. With Digital Underground's final group release, the Greenlight EP, dropping last week, Shock G took time out to pull off the mask and reveal the four people who've played Humpty in the public eye over the years, plus tell all about the groupie who insisted on wanting to get busy with Humpty, not Shock.
There's a live version of “Same Song” on the EP. Did you perform both the Shock G and Humpty Hump parts at that show yourself?
That was at a KMEL summer jam, in 1991 at the Shoreline Amphiteater in Mountain View. My little brother Kent Racker, who's a rock guitarist, doubled as Shock G on that show so we could pull the double-act off on stage. Kent is the one who was dressed in the Shock G robes, the zebra print and the African-style kufi hat with the dark sunglasses. He walked out on stage with a dead microphone lip-synching the first verse. I'm back-stage dressed as Humpty Hump with a live mic, rapping the Shock G lines: “I came for the party/ To get naughty/ Get my rocks on/ Eat popcorn…” Kent's walking around on stage pretending to rap them. Too $hort and people who swore that they knew me had bought into me being Shock G on stage at that point, but then Humpty walked out–it fucked their heads up!
Obviously Kent didn't sing nothing for the rest of the show, but he was on stage walking around. With 2Pac and Money B running interference, no one figured it out. To this day, those 60 or 70,000 people at that Summer Jam still argue about whether it was the real Humpty or not.
Did Kent ever perform as Humpty on other occasions?
Yeah, he was there in that movie with Dan Aykroyd, Nothing But Trouble, plus when we [Digital Underground] performed the “We're All In The Same Gang” song on the Arsenio Hall Show with Eazy-E and Tone Loc and them. But at that time he was Humpty, cause he could pull the Humpty voice off. If we both had to have live mics then it was better to let him be Humpty. His diction wasn't totally like mine so real fans could tell something was different. But when I was Humpty and Kent was Shock G, everybody bought that as Humpty.