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No Nose Job: The Legend of Digital Underground

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Album Review

A major part of hip-hop's explosion of creativity during the late '80s and early '90s, Digital Underground was the first major rap group to draw their inspiration from Parliament-Funkadelic. They followed that blueprint even more closely than the legions of West Coasters who walked the trail they blazed; the Underground didn't just draw from George Clinton's loose, funky beats and crazed party atmosphere, but also replicated P-Funk's extended jams (albeit without the instrumental solos). Shock-G's numerous alter egos and goofy sense of humor fit perfectly into the playful vibe of post-De La Soul, pre-Chronic hip-hop, and the group recorded more than a few terrific singles. All of those singles are present in some form on No Nose Job: The Best of Digital Underground, which mixes full-length album versions (including the full 6:30 of the group's signature smash "The Humpty Dance") with briefer radio edits. Those shorter versions don't quite capture the way Digital Underground sounded on album (and, for a group able to craft such excellent singles, they were surprisingly consistent and engaging on their best albums). But that actually works as a better introduction for newcomers, who get most of the group's best songs in pure concentrated form. Sex Packets is still an essential classic, but No Nose Job will likely end up a necessary purchase for many.


Formed: 1987 in Oakland, CA

Genre: Hip-Hop/Rap

Years Active: '80s, '90s

While hip-hop was consumed by the hardcore, noisy political rap of Public Enemy and the gangsta rap of N.W.A., Digital Underground sneaked out of Oakland with their bizarre, funky homage to Parliament-Funkadelic. Digital Underground built most of their music from P-Funk samples and developed a similarly weird sense of style and humor, highlighted by Shock-G's outrageous costumes and the whole band's parade of alter egos. Of all these alter egos, Shock-G's Humpty Hump -- a ridiculous comical figure...
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