How Shock G Accidentally Put Prince on a 2Pac Album
Rapper Shock G, who died yesterday at the age of 57, was the reason 2Pac wound up releasing a single based on Prince’s music.
G – birth name Greg Jacobs, best known as his onstage alter-ego Humpty Hump – was bandmates with 2Pac in Digital Underground, and collaborated with him in the early phase of his solo career. He contributed the track “Fuck the World” to 2Pac's 1995 album Me Against the World, which attracted multiple award nominations and has become regarded as a highly influential work.
But “Fuck the World,” which G created out of his admiration for Prince, was never intended to be given to 2Pac, and its writer believed its life had ended after Digital Underground had rejected it.
“I sent three good songs to Pac for the Me Against The World album,” G told Vibe in 2010. “Pac calls me back in Oakland and he’s like, ‘I like the first one and the fourth one.’ And I’m puzzled because I only sent three tracks. … He [later] played the tape for me and when the third beat ran out some old, dusty shit that I had taped over and didn’t want no one to hear came on. … It was that ‘Fuck The World’ beat, which was really a Prince remake. We had all that Minneapolis shit in it. But [Digital Underground] ended up not doing it because nobody felt the beat but me.”
In the same interview, G discussed how Prince had influenced him from an early age, saying: “I had one foot in hip-hop being a DJ and the other foot in P-Funk. I was a self-taught musician on piano… Playing instruments was something you didn’t see in hip-hop. And on top of that, I was a huge Prince fan. I loved that he did it all in the studio by himself.” He added that he’d wanted Digital Underground to be a supergroup with a revolving lineup. “I figured the more MC’s you would see… the less the fans would figure out that I was the piano man and Humpty Hump and Shock G. At that time, if you seemed like you knew a lot about playing music you were considered less hip-hop. So I didn’t want to appear like I was Prince – like I was above it all or this god, which is how I looked at him.”
2Pac - ‘Fuck the World’
G’s remix of “Love Sign” appeared on Prince’s 1998’s Crystal Ball – but the track had been completed several years earlier and so G had forgotten all about it. “[P]eople are coming up to me going, ‘Yo, good to see you on that song with Prince.’ So I would turn around and look at whoever I was with and say, ‘I ain’t never did no song with Prince…’ Then I get to the studio and the engineer is like, ‘I like the work you did on that Crystal Ball album with Prince.’ I’m like, ‘Why does everybody keep saying that?
“I thought I took too much ecstasy and acid because I couldn’t remember doing that song… But you know what it was? It was a remix that Prince’s Paisley Park label hired us to do with Nona Gaye. This was in 1993 and it was a song that Prince wrote for her. We muted Prince’s lead vocal tracks and added our tracks on there and that was it. But when we sent the track back to Prince it never came out. At that time, we just thought it was the closest we would ever get to Prince, like, ‘Wow, we touched the same tape that Prince touched.’ After six years, I forgot about that shit.”
He later met his hero at a party, but felt restricted because, for publicity reasons, he’d attended in his Humpty Hump persona. “I brought a couple of girls with me and had a limo,” G recalled. “I’m in the VIP area late into the party and Prince comes walking through. He’s wearing the high heels and this crazy red suit that the Joker would have on!” He continued: “Back then the thinking was if you wanted to talk to Prince you had to wait for him to talk to you because you might run him away, so you knew not to fuck with him. I’m standing there as Humpty, so I have to talk like Humpty. I got Stevie Wonder cracking up. And Prince walks up and he speaks to me!”
While the conversation might not have been world-changing for some, it was more than satisfying for G. “He asked me how I liked the album and I was like, ‘Man, I loved that song ‘Don’t Play Me’ and ‘Dream Factory’ swings hard…it’s some of the hardest shit ever made.’ He was like, ‘Yeah… that was cool how the groove fit right in there.’” He laughed: “I talked to Prince in the flesh!”
Shock G’s ‘Love Sign’ Remix