Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Digital Underground: Who Got The Gravy?

With the possible exception of James Brown, no pre-hip-hop artist has had as profound an influence on the development of rap music as George Clinton. But while most West Coast rap owes a mighty debt to Clinton and his pioneering work with Parliament and Funkadelic, most rappers who have embraced and paid homage to Clinton's work have borrowed his sound while advocating a violent nihilism far removed from Clinton's drug-addled idealism. Digital Underground, on the other hand, has perhaps most faithfully assimilated all the different aspects of Clinton's utopian vision. While DU shares with P-Funk a number of strengths—chief among them playfulness, a willingness to experiment, and a vividly surrealistic sense of humor—both groups also have a tendency to drift off into unremarkable funk grooves for long stretches, a tendency that's rendered especially insufferable given rap's inherent repetitiveness. The band's latest album, Who Got The Gravy? finds Shock G, Money B, and the rest of Digital Underground still worshiping at the church of Funkadelic, to decidedly mixed results. The album has its moments, chief among them "The Odd Couple," a track that finds Humpty Hump and the ubiquitous Biz Markie debating the relative merits of the two coasts, the relative worth of their respective parentage, and whether or not Biz Markie's head is disproportionately large for his body. The album's first single, "Wind Me Up," is propulsive and mildly infectious, as is Shock G's straightforward collaboration with KRS-One, "Cyber Teeth Tigers." But too many tracks are uninspired love jams that at times find Shock G pulling off a frighteningly accurate appropriation of Montell Jordan's smarmy love-man croon. If nothing else, Digital Underground deserves credit for dodging conventional and commercial wisdom by sparing the world what would seem to be an obligatory we-miss-you-2Pac song.

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