interview SHOCK G (PART 2)  (July 2008) | Interview By: Jonathan Hay and Chad Kiser

   This is the second time I’ve spoken with Shock G in the form of an interview and I’m going to be honest: I really enjoy talking to him. Talking to Shock G, you can actually walk away with something from what he says…his words and descriptive thoughts resonate within. Shock G is food for the spirit -- and we are all starving for something different…something a little left field and outside the box. In this second part of the exclusive Dubcnn interview, Shock G opens up all the way about so many things -- from his last surreal encounter with Tupac, secrets of Humpty Hump, cocaine, more history on Digital Underground, God, Amy Winehouse and publicity stunts.

Enough said. I bring you Shock Talk: The Second Edition, raw and uncut as ever. This interview is a must-read!!!

As ever, you can read this exclusive interview below and we urge you to leave feedback on our forums or email them to haywire@dubcnn.com.

Interview was done in June 2008

Questions Asked By: Jonathan Hay and Chad Kiser
Shock Talk Volume 2
Digital Underground– The Dubcnn Shock G Interview
By Jonathan Hay & Chad Kiser
Read Part 1 of This Interview: Here

Shock G: *singing* Step up, step step, step up, step up!

Dubcnn: Drug use: we touched on that subject a little in our last interview and the responsible factors that go along with experimenting. Anyway, what would you say to someone who is seriously struggling with substance abuse?

"Call me when you're ready to do something else" is what'd I say before I got completely out of that persons way. Cause there's really nothing u can say to a person if they themselves haven't had enough yet. It's like trying to convince the average person to become a vegetarian just because there's statistics that link animal products to a dozen or so life-threatening diseases. If they themselves aren't in search of an alternative diet, it's like preaching to a brick wall. Though you will find that statistically 100-times as many people die from diet-related heart failure than drug overdoses, most people still aren't afraid of consuming a steady diet rich in animal fat. Similarly, alcohol related fights, murders, & auto accidents far outnumber the violence & death that stems from illegal street drugs, but because it's so entwined in the American lifestyle, we don't consider our day-to-day alcohol consumption a drug problem, and therefore don't fear the circumstances.

In my case, so many of my heroes have dabbled in uppers & downers, and multidimensional trips like shrooms & acid, that I just have never been afraid of all that stuff, and therefore couldn't be talked out of it by anyone. I walked away from cocaine, ecstasy, speed, and eating meat, all the same way and for the same reason: when it stopped making me feel good. Prior to that, no person in my family or at any program could've got me to "say no" to the recreational drugs of my choice, and no super-health & fitness guru could've talked me into becoming vegetarian. But funny thing is, I'm now a 100% vegetarian who doesn't do those particular hard drugs I just named, and it feels great.

When u look around yourself and your world isn't really what u want it to be, and you don't feel how you'd like 2 feel, then, and only then, will you turn to something else. But until that time, ya just gotta let a person do what the heck they wanna do, cause it's really nobody else’s business, and especially not the governments business telling any individual which substances we should be allowed to put in our own bodies. It's my body. Kids ain't stupid. I recognized the hypocritical nature of society as a kid when I saw a "just say no/ this is your brain on drugs" commercial immediately followed by a cheerful beer commercial or an aspirin commercial. The message was clear "it's unhealthy unless WE sell it to you."

Dubcnn: In the nineties, marijuana was the drug of choice among lyrical content. Nowadays, more and more emcees are openly talking about cocaine use in their lyrics. What do you feel about artists who advocate cocaine in their songs - Ya know, the rap on blow…

Shock G: We have many liquor anthems, and a few weed anthems, bout time cocaine gets an anthem. And I mean one that celebrates it, the positive aspects of it. If it's okay to talk about guns, murder, & sex, why can't we talk about cocaine, because it's "dangerous"? To those that say there aren't any positive aspects, then you've obviously never felt coke before. But here's the thing; it's like going to Disney World and then never wanting to leave, never getting off the rollercoaster and returning home, back to reality. As long as you recognize that it isn't reality, and that you can't live there, then you're okay. Enjoy the ride baybay; just don't get stuck in the park.

Dubcnn: Everybody thinks we are watching Amy Winehouse self-destruct with her drug demons right in front of the public eye. What do you think about her?

If self-destruction is in your path, then it's in your path. We watched Tupac self-destruct in a different way, meanwhile Chuck-D's still alive & doing his thing. Both attacked the ideology of the American system, both launched media wars against the government, but it wasn't in Chuck-D's nature to self-destruct in the way Pac did, completely different personalities & childhood experiences. Why is George Clinton or Miles Davis able to dabble in cocaine throughout their long prolific careers while Sly Stone or Rick James went straight to the abuse point with it? Why was Angelina Jolie able to dabble in cocaine during her way up the entertainment latter, before she became a mother, while Amy Winehouse seems to be falling apart?

Perhaps it's not the cocaine itself, or the liquor, or the demanding nature of the entertainment industry, or the stress of being famous; perhaps it's a stable childhood vs an unstable one. Or a settled mind vs. an unsettled one. The very same reasons why we love Amy, and Tupac, and ODB for, for their wildness, is part of the reason they're not able to hold it together later. Incidentally, and speaking of ODB, why do we only associate the cocaine portion but not the high-blood pressure portion every time someone dies of a heart attack? There are WAYYYY more diet/cholesterol/high-blood pressure related strokes & heart attacks then there are drug-related overdoses, yet nobody sweats the cheeseburger & fried chicken references in songs.

Here's why I believe that is: Fried chicken & shrimp, cheeseburgers, liquor, pain relievers, and cigarettes are all legal; cocaine isn't. Ever run a stop sign or speed pass a person and the other "obedient" driver beeps at you, even though they're not the police? ..and even though u weren't in their way? Same deal, it's not whether something's dangerous or not, because all of the above items have health risks. No, it's because the people who obey the laws feel cheated when someone else get's away with having a good time in a way that they themselves have refrained from, and/or obeyed the law or minded their elders. "Hey, that guy's doing coke! Hey, those kids are doing ecstasy! Hey that white person's having sex with that black person!" And so, as soon as someone falls off... "SEE! You shouldn't do coke!" or "SEE! Nicole shouldn't of trusted a black guy!" "Oh yeah idiot? What about Quincy Jones, he never cut Peggy Liptons throat. Matter of fact, she did pretty good in the divorce." ha ha ha! What about Ray Charles & Miles Davis? Loooong careers in which the drugs actually helped them navigate & survive the insanity of the industry at times. Everything in moderation, nothing to excess, and hands down, a stable childhood beats all. Love your children and they'll grow up to survive anything.

Dubcnn: You are an important voice to many people all around the world… so with you standing on a soapbox, what are your personal beliefs about God, spirituality and religion?

I believe we're all little individual sprinkles of God. Like individual waves rise up, die at the shore, and then are sucked back into the ocean; we are born from light, and then in death, suck back into the greater life of the Universe. Your skin & blood cells each have an individual nature, though they are part of your greater life. When the different red & white cells fall out of harmony & attack each other, this is called cancer, which we know has the ability to kill the entire human body. Similarly, when we attack each other, our war is also a cancer, and can kill the entire Earth. The purpose of life is to seek joy, happiness, and harmony. This is the meaning of spirituality, guiding your spirit closer & closer to harmony each day.

Originally, religion set out to achieve this purpose but over the last few thousand years, organized religion has come to represent the opposite of harmony. The church has now begun to divide people more than unite us. You don't need a church or a Bible to know higher spirituality and to practice peace & harmony; you only need to live it each day. That's the biggest thing a person can do with his life to satisfy God, Mother Nature, Allah, Budda, Mother Earth, Father Sun, and the Universe; simple BE peace & harmony, all the time, as much as you can. And then not only does Heaven await you in the afterlife, but your world here on Earth becomes a Heaven as well.

Dubcnn: Listening back to your Digital Underground catalog, if you could personally select ten-songs from your collection of music that best represent your artistic expression, which ten songs would you choose?

 Same Song - I came for the party, the music, the good times.
 Doowutchyalike - follow your heart, be original, have no shame.
 Humpty Dance - be original & true to yourself, have no shame.
 Sex Packets - imagination is key. I never sold drugs, or had an orgy with a chinese girl & a young black virgin in real life, but I lived it in this song to enuff satisfaction.
 Sons of the P - same deal, I haven't left this planet physically yet, but I did fly thru outer space on George's mothership.
 Body Hats - don't just protect your physical body, use mental condoms as well.
 Do Ya Like it Dirty? - natural hair, natural food, kinky sex, and un-landscaped land is as beautiful & attractive as clean-cut orderly life is to some of us.
 Jerkit Circus - masturbation beats an abortion, or an unwanted child, or even just a bad memory of an unwanted experience with someone.
 Walk Real Kool - it ain't just about being fly, it's about being righteous.
 Your Sun iza Pimp - remember to acknowledge & thank your Sun, for rising each day for millions of years, and for nourishing all life on Earth.

Dubcnn: With the digital distribution of music eclipsing physical CD sales, how can we preserve that art form and the visuals of an album – like a CD booklet that is on the brink of extinction?

"It's so haaaaard 2 say goodbye" *laughs* Let's just replace it with live video imagery. Soon whole videos will be downloadable & emailable. In the early 1900s, before records, it was a live band or piano player at every party. No art images at all. During records & CDs, it rose briefly and then became extinct, just like VCRs.

Dubcnn: Many people have heard about all the music you have recorded with Tupac. A much slept-on song that you did with him is called "Wussup Wit The Love," Can you share with us the history on that song?

The video took place at a house in Berkeley California that someone lent us. The song went down at Starlight Sound in Richmond Cali. Michael Hampton of Funkadelic did the guitar parts. He's the one who did the guitar solo on the album version of Knee Deep. I remember how pissed Pac got at me for askin him to rewrite his rime. His first verse was so "hittem back/revolutionary" that I didn't think it fit the song, so he grudgingly wrote the verse as it is now. He still aimed it at the police, but I wanted us to speak more about civilian crime, and the lack of love toward each other individually. I'm glad he resisted me and stuck to his guns, it added another dimension to it.

Dubcnn: Do you remember your last conversation with Tupac?

Sure do, there's a whole story behind that. My final words with Pac happened at our final, mysterious & magical D.U. reunion/goodbye meeting; august 1996 @House of Blues on Sunset Strip in Hollywood California. On this one night, myself, Pac, and Money-B, all 3 discovered each other in the rear balcony against the wall - furthest back row seats in the house - at an LL Cool-J show that we each individually had attended on our own. Outkast had opened the show earlier. Neither of us knew that either of us were even in LA, much less at this show, so it was completely outta the clear blue. Tupac lived in Atlanta at the time, Money-B in Concord California, and myself Sacramento California. All 3 of us had snuck away from our individual entourages to get a clear undisturbed view of LLs' performance. In hindsight, it was uncanny how we one-by-one showed up way in the back in the general seating, a huge surprise, with huge smiles & hugs. The three of us chilled against the rear wall, dancing & singing along to LLs concert, just like old D.U. times. It was the first time the 3 of us chilled together in a while, and the last time I saw Tupac alive.

Our sporadic, light & easy catch-up conversation was sprinkled in between the LL highlights onstage. Years later, I began to ponder if that was God putting us together to say goodbye? Because it's such a beautiful last vision to have, rather than a shoot-out or a hospital bed; us dancing and singing along together at one of our school-days idols' concerts, just like we used to do on tour together. In 1990, it would be Pac, Mun, and myself, after our own performance, down in the front row during Public Enemy's performance, singing along to our idol Chuck-D, looking up at him & Flavor Flav, and goin dummy! And that's just how it was at our very last meeting.

When I look back on this, there must've been some magic involved; it's just too perfect of a goodbye. I didn't even realize this until years later someone asked me when & where did I see Tupac last, and that, to my amazement, is what was really there.

Dubcnn: You are one of the dopest emcees in the history of the game - stylistically there is no comparison. Who do you look up to as an emcee past and present?

Me? ha ha, yeah right! I'm the worst emcee in the business in my opinion. Snoop, RZA, Lauren Hill, Talib Kweli, Andre 3000, & Kool Keith are probably my favorites, but I like everybody. I like 50, and Diddy too, I can't lie. I always liked Mase & Fabulous too cause they make me laff. Good funny shit talkers. I like early Luniz and Geto Boys too. I still like Big Bank Hank from Rappers Delight. The last Sugarhill Gang show I was at, Master-G wasn't there and they gave me a mic and let me do his parts on stage. That was the funniest shit ever! Who from the 80s hasn't been rappin-along to that song all their life? I was in Sugarhill Gang for a day!

Dubcnn: Who is Humpty Hump and how did his creation come to life? If you could go into character, take us into the mind of Humpty Hump, one of the most fascinating personas in the history of hip-hop.

Humpty is a rapper who didn't exist but that I wanted to see & hear. So I just embodied him, or let him possess me, for long enuff to get a few songs & videos done. Then I just kick back & laff my ass off and enjoy that fool. It came from thinking.. "What if there was an emcee who looked & sounded like this..", ya know?

Dubcnn: What is your favorite piano solo or arrangement by the Piano Man?

"Hokis Pokis" on the Future Rhythm album. That's that insane abstract jazzy ish right there!

Dubcnn: What is your outlook on the final Digital Underground LP, 'Cuz A D. U Party Don't Stop?'

Honestly, I played the rear and mostly let the crew shine on this one from a lyrical perspective. However, from a musical perspective I was 100% there. For me, I'm expressed on this album as an arranger and a keyboardist more than anything else. I'm live on the Fender Rhodes electric piano through a lot of it. And I had so much fun mixing & editing together all the skits & commercials n stuff. The concept is supposed to be as if the album is a TV show, "DNN", the digital News Network.

Dubcnn: In retrospective, with you now transcending into a new level in your career, have you accomplished everything you wanted with Digital Underground?

I'm satisfied. It didn't go perfect, but it also didn't go terribly either, it was usually right in the middle, just good enuff. A fun journey & learning experience about life & people. That's where life is really, right? ..it's in the journey.

Dubcnn: Tell us about the books your writing?

I'm writing 2 or 3. I started documenting all the tour stories and musical experiences, and it's turning out to be too much for one book. So I hope to publish two, one about the actual process, a technical book to share the techniques we used in the studio on the more successful & popular records. This book is more for the other artists & musicians, and anyone interested in how it was all done. Then I also hope to publish a more Hollywood stylebook for the fans, with all the sex, drugs, & hip-hop drama. The parties, the after parties, and the after-after parties, ya know? Both will be loaded with Tupac memories as well as the other D.U. highlights. I feel obligated to share the Pac stories because there's so much interest in his portion of our story.

Dubcnn: I am currently writing a book called, 'Publicity Stunt: The Art of Noise.' What is the best publicity stunt you have ever witnessed in the industry?

The whole Humpty Hump as a real separate person thing was a fun & crazy fiasco. There were actually 4 different Humpty’s over the years. Sometimes it was me, other times it was either my true brother Kent Racker, my friend Michael Webster, or another friend; my wife’s ex-boyfriend Devin. On TV or onstage it was usually Kent when I was doing Shock G, or vice versa. That's Kent too in Nothin But Trouble, the Dan Akroyd movie. In most of the early D.U. promo 8 x 10 photos, it was Mike. On the BAM magazine cover shot it was Devin. In the Humpty Dance video, while I was Humpty, Shock G was actually played by Rod Houston, the video rep at Tommy Boy! One time on the set of the Arsenio Hall Show, Eazy-E was chillin backstage talking to Humpty, who he just KNEW was me underneath. And then I walked up and started talkin with both of them. You should of saw Eazy's face! He got real quiet and started looking back & forth at both of us all confused. Ha ha ha. Then me & Kent always knew right when to walk away, and leave em baffled.

Dubcnn: Any closing words for our readers here at Dubcnn?

As the ice continues to melt, and the world begins to really change, don't be afraid, we're all gonna make it.

Thanks mista Hay, for another opportunity to speak.

Dubcnn: It is an honor.


Find out more information and where to pick up the latest Digital Underground album by following the link: MySpace.com/humptyfunk




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