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The year has been especially brutal for Hip-Hop fans, and definitely those of us that are of a certain age. The news of Gregory “Shock G” Jacobs passing at the age of 57 has rocked fans worldwide, and Hip-Hop Wired has compiled a playlist of Shock G’s music to honor his life and legacy.
Gregory Jacobs was born August 25, 1963, in Brooklyn, N.Y., bouncing around the coast until settling in Tampa, Fla. While in college in Florida, Jacobs studied music theory and connected with the late Kenneth “Kenny K” Waters and later formed the Digital Underground collective in the late 1980s along with James “Chopmaster J” Dright.
As a producer, Jacobs didn’t shy away from the common practice of sampling older records but he was also a self-taught pianist and keyboardist, as evidenced by his “Piano Man” nickname. His sonic imprint informed the sounds of Digital Underground but he also lent his expertise to the music of the late Tupac “2Pac” Shakur, Luniz, Saafir, and even songs for the late Prince and KRS-One among others.
Shock G’s knowledge of music was noted in several interviews that have resurfaced in the past day since news of his passing went wide. Other musical giants in their own right have been sharing their memories and thoughts of Shock G via social media, including Amhir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots sharing a great story from Fiona Apple and Shock G’s connection via Twitter.
“Damn. Fiona Apple just hit & told me this cool story about her pushing a cart in the Home Depot parking lot, & saw Shock G (97) & both were mutual fans (DU was her 1st rap purchase/He would spin “Never Is A Promise” at gigs) they would email/exchange lyrics to each other,” Questlove wrote.
Producer and DJ Statik Selektah shared how Shock G influenced him as a young man.
“Shock G was part of the era to me as a child that rap stars were more like super heroes. It holds a dear place in my heart. The way it was packaged, introduced, & the way imagination/aliases/characters were valued. We lost that later on in the game. Rest In Peace Legend,” Statik wrote.
Breaking the usual tradition here at Hip-Hop Wired, I have to share my perspective and engagement with Digital Underground after discovering them in 1990. My parents were funk and soul musicians and I grew up around that P-Funk sound since a young age. To see Digital Underground give honor to that past sound and packaging for a new generation is something I’m still honored to have lived through.
May the good brother Gregory “Shock G” Jacobs rest powerfully in peace.