Study Guide

The Humpty Dance

The Humpty Dance Introduction

In a Nutshell

Dancing: It's everywhere. 

As you can see in popular shows like Dancing with the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance, as well as in underdog dance stories like Footloose, Dirty Dancing, and Step Up, dance is a form of communication that can express the entire spectrum of human emotion. 

At some time or another, we all have the inclination or obligation to do it: the prom, a wedding, or even when you're alone at home and a really good song is playing—and then somebody walks in and you have to pretend that you were just stretching.

And then there's the Humpty Dance. No doubt the funkiest single of 1990, in a hip-hop climate dominated by hardcore gangsta rap and socially-conscious calls to action, Digital Underground's "The Humpty Dance" showcased the absurd character of Humpty Hump, Digital Underground's resident court jester/ladies' man. 

With "The Humpty Dance," Digital Underground revels in dancing for the sake of dancing, letting loose, and throwing your inhibitions to the wind. If you're looking for a lot of gritty substance in this song, well, stop looking, and start dancing.

About the Song

ArtistDigital Underground
Year1990
LabelTommy Boy Records
Writer(s)Gregory Jacobs (Shock-G)
Producer(s)Gregory Jacobs (Shock-G)
Musician(s)Shock-G (vocals), DJ Fuze (beats, vocals)
Learn to play
AlbumSex Packets

Music Video

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Influences on Digital Underground

Parliament Funkadelic
Brides of Funkenstein
Sly and the Family Stone
Fred Wesley T
The Horny Horns
B.B. King
James Brown
Michael Jackson
Prince
Zapp
The Bomb Squad
EPMD

Influenced by Digital Underground

Luniz
E-40
DJ Quik
Dr. Dre
2pac
Snoop Dogg
P. Diddy
Pharrell
Kanye West
Eminem

The Humpty Dance Resources

Albums

Sex Packets
A classic album, Sex Packets brought a hip-hop party vibe at a time when every other rap act was trying to be N.W.A. or Public Enemy. In this concept album about a fictional drug, Digital Underground explored the idea of virtual reality long before The Matrix or Avatar. While "The Humpty Dance" is the best known today, some notable other tracks are "Doowutchalike," "Underwater Rimes," and "Freaks of the Industry."

This is an EP Release
A short release for their sophomore effort, This Is An EP Release's big hit was "Same Song," which is the first Digital Underground song to feature 2Pac, long before he became a gangsta rap superstar. "Tie the Knot" is a humorous take on a groom's hesitations before marriage, and tracks like "Nuttin' Nis Funky" and "Arguin' On The Funk" continue to explore the Underground's P-Funk roots.

Sons of the P
As if the Parliament tributes couldn't get any stronger, Digital Underground positions itself in the Parliament family tree with Sons of the P (P standing for Parliament or P-Funk). The album is a smooth and funky effort, and every song seems to blend into the next one, making it feel like a long jam session. Humpty presents a great song about body issues with "No Nose Job," and Shock-G leads "Kiss You Back," another great party track that proves Digital Underground is at their best when the idea is incredibly simple.

Images

Sex Packets, album cover
Notice that Humpty is absent because his character had not yet been developed.

"The Humpty Dance" single cover
The artwork is a perfect example of Shock-G's illustration style, which would be featured on every DU release.

Digital Underground
The full DU crew

Websites

Shock-G's Official Website
Digital Underground disbanded in 2010, but Shock continues to produce, write his own music, and tour with other members of the Underground, never shying away from performing DU's hits, including "The Humpty Dance."

Video & Audio

"The Humpty Dance"
This is Humpty's debut single. Notice the trick camera work that makes it look like Shock and Humpty are two separate individuals. For years, Shock would use body doubles in the Underground's stage shows to keep up the illusion.

"Doowutchalike"
This was Digital Underground's first video. Though it was clearly shot on a shoestring budget and has undeniable 80s style, "Doowutchalike" is a raucous, hyper song that's still fun over 20 years later. This is the video where it hit Shock-G that Humpty could be a separate character unto himself. Also notice a number of cameos from already well-established rappers like KRS-One, LL Cool J, and Kid 'n Play.

"Same Song"
This song appeared on the follow-up to Sex Packets, This is an EP Release, but reached a bigger audience due to its feature in the 1991 Dan Aykroyd/Chevy Chase movie, Nothing But Trouble. The movie bombed and was universally panned, but Digital Underground managed to put in a memorable performance. Notice in the video a cameo by Eazy-E and Dr. Dre, just shortly before their very public feud. Also notable is a young 2Pac, added to the DU line up after their Sex Packets tour.

"No Nose Job"
Another Humpty single that expands the body-positive ideas first rapped in "The Humpty Dance."