What is The Humpty Dance? Digital Underground's viral hit explained
29 April 2021, 11:38
'The Humpty Dance' was one of the group's biggest songs and sparked a viral dance craze in the '90s.
The news of the death of Shock G, hip-hop pioneer and frontman of legendary group Digital Underground, left the music world mourning last week.
The rapper, real name Gregory Jacobs, was found dead in a hotel room in Tampa, Florida on April 22, 2021 at the age of 57, and fans have been paying their respects to the icon across social media since.
Formed in the late 1980's, Digital Underground were known for their funk-infused jams and for truly pushing the boundaries of hip-hop. One of their biggest songs, 'The Humpty Dance', did just that.
Who is Humpty Hump?
The group soared to popularity in 1990 with the release of their top-selling single 'The Humpty Dance', which featured on their debut album Sex Packets.
Shock G takes the lead on the track via his alter ego, Humpty Hump, marking the Groucho glasses-wearing character's second appearance after first featuring in the video for the group's debut hit 'Doowutchyalike'.
In an interview with Vibe in 2010, Shock explained the birth of Humpty. He said, "...it was mainly based on my uncle Tony Red. He really talks like Humpty. He didn’t know how to dress, but he was the coolest n***a in the world. He would walk up to girls and say the most stupid shit [laughs]."
"They would look at him crazy, but he would be like, [in the Humpty Hump voice], “There must be something wrong with y’all, man… I’m Tony Red." It wasn’t until the day we shot the video and we were picking up party supplies that the whole idea for Humpty’s nose came about.
"This store in Berkley had some bargain bin noses that were 99 cents each. One was a sharp nose, one was a pig nose, and the others were some odd, brown Groucho Marx noses. I put it on and it was just so fucking hilarious to me. That was the birth of Humpty Hump."
What is the Humpty Dance?
In the music video for 'The Humpty Dance', Humpty prefaces the subject matter of the song and explains that the tongue-in-cheek dance isn't exactly what people are used to seeing from typical rappers of the time.
"I'm about to ruin the image and the style that you're used to," he says. In the final verse of the track, Humpty describes the Humpty Dance itself as a loose dance accessible for many. "Like MC Hammer on crack... anyone can play this game," he saids, before inviting people of all races to join in with the dance.