Digital Underground – Sex Packets
So I turned on Yo MTV Raps sometime in early 1990 and saw something so different, so funky, so outrageous. Fab 5 Freddy introduced some video called “Doowutchyalike” by some group I had never heard. It was completely insane, the most ridiculous party I have ever seen. I mean the video had Eazy-E and Kid N Play partying, it doesn’t get more diverse than that. Then some dude with a big nose was instructing the ladies to “Just grab him in the biscuits.” Another cat perfectly describes this song when he rhymes “You got to admit, it’s a new type of song.” The best part of the song is the piano man’s dope medley on the ivory keys. If any one song could accurately depict Digital Underground’s mantra, this is that song. 27 years later, this still bangs.
Digital Underground – Doowutchyalike
Digital Underground is a west coast hip hop collective that came to fruition in the late 80’s. Shock G is the general but the cast has had revolving doors since their inception…just like legendary Temptations. Money B, DJ Fuze, Saafir, the songbird Mystic among a host of other were all members at one point. You may have heard of one of their early members, the immortal Tupac Shakur got his start as a member of Digital Underground.
DU released their debut album, Sex Packets on March 26, 1990. This was an album loosely based around a pill for the user to meet their sexual needs. Shock G himself handles a majority of the production which fused P Funk samples with live instrumentation. Their unique and original approach to hip hop garnered them a platinum plaque. Sans “The Humpty Dance“, I know yall haven’t heard anything from this album in decades, so lets revisit and pay homage.
If you had any pulse in the 90s’ you know the albums opener “The Humpty Dance”, is easily the most popular in their catalog. Shock G plays his fun loving, big nosed alter ego, Humpty Hump and basically let us know hes the coolest cat in hip hop now. If you wanted to learn the dance, he gives an instruction on the 3rd verse and lets us know if we are doing it right, we will look like “MC Hammer on crack”. Shock’s G’s hypnotic instrumental was the perfect backdrop for Humpty’s silliness.
Digital Underground – The Humpty Dance
“The Way We Swing” is up next. This was a perfect way to start off the album. Shock G drops some rhymes introducing their style to the world over a funk inspired instrumental. This funky 7 minutes was a nice way to start the evening and a preview of whats to follow. “Rhymin on the Funk” is based on a familiar Parliament sample and is pretty similar to the previous song. Money B gets on this one and does his best to keep up with Shock. One of my favorite parts of the album was the “The New Jazz(One)”. This was a piano interlude, but much too short. As soon as you start to enjoy this, its over.
Digital Underground-The New Jazz (One)
“Underwater Rhymes” is up next and Shock G shows off yet another moniker….MC Blowfish. The first 2 verses have Shock rhyming with a ton of underwater references and feature him talking shit to an underwater cop. Then MC Blowfish follows and finishes the song on a funny note. This may sound completely nutts, but sounds awesome over another funky instrumental. “Gutfest 89” describes my ideal festival featuring lots of head and great music from a variety of artists. Digital Underground takes us down a different avenue on “Danger Zone”. They discuss the nations growing drug problems. The attempt was appreciated, I was ready for them to make some more feel good music that would make Akaiya want to groove all over me.
And she would definitely be moving to the next smash, “Freaks of the Industry”. Shock G and Money B tell us about a couple sexual exploits over a smooth ass laid back groove that comes with a funk guitar riff. Piano Man shows up once agayne and provides that jazzy sexy vibe from those ivories to take us out.
Digital Underground-Freaks Of The Industry
The title track, “Sex Packets” was one of my favorites as a 15 year old virgin. Shock got his best Prince impersonation ready to describe a pill that will bring a man or woman to life for some sexual satisfaction. He refers to it as “biochemically compacted sexual affection”. Then croons:
No sex can be safer
It’s just a pill
Wrapped in a little piece of paper
Digital Underground-Sex Packets
The last song describes what Sex Packets are and in “Packet Man”, Shock G goes into full blown story mode to describe his interaction with trying to sell them. Shock G and his alter ego Humpty does a great job describing the transaction through rhyming. The lyrics and flow on this one is bananas……but the remix on their sophomore album was incredible…..but that’s for another time.
Digital Underground- Packet Man
And just like the mighty Above the Rim soundtrack, the cassette version has 3 additional tracks, “Hip Hop Doll, A Tribute to the Early Days, and Sounds of the Underground.” Shock G is the major force and the creative genius of Digital Underground. After listening to the album in full for the first time in the new millennium, I have come to the conclusion Shock is severely underrated. Their debut album is filled with tons of stories, comedy and funk. Plus I think this may have been hip hop’s first references to Hennessy and referring to head as skull or brains. At a time when hip hop was starting to get serious, this album was a welcome change of pace.
Digital Underground – Sex Packets