Digital Underground – Sex Packets: #493 of best 1,000 albums ever!

Digital Underground - Sex Packets

So why is Digital Underground’s Sex Packets on this best 1,000 albums ever thing?

I read an interview with Beck many years ago, in which he talked about how he wished there were more bands or musical projects like the Digital Underground*.

* I googled “beck digital underground” in the hopes of digging up that interview, and instead stumbled upon a website that claims that Beck performed “The Humpty Dance” in “2 out of 681 shows.” I just find this to be a stunning factoid, and I’m going to choose to believe it.

Now, surely he didn’t mean exactly like the Digital Underground, because replicating these Bay Area hip hop legends would be impossible. He meant artists who were pushing the envelope in terms of creativity, experimentation, but even more than that in the DU’s case – embodying an overall sense of goofy and wildly inventive good fun.

Sex Packets might be the funniest and most party-oriented hip hop album ever produced, and Exhibit A of course is “The Humpty Dance.”

I never once did figure out the deal – as in the fake nose, the nasal delivery, and what have you – with Humpty Hump a.ka. Shock G a.ka. Gregory Edward Jacobs, and it doesn’t matter. “The Humpty Dance” is ridiculously fun and ridiculously groovy and funky hip hop in equal measure. It manages to be a song that creates its own dance (called out helpfully by the song title) while packing in a ton of comedy along route. Among my all time favorites:

I’m a freak, I like the girls with the boom
I once got busy in a Burger King bathroom

And just to emphasize how not seriously Humpty Hump takes the proceedings (while encouraging us thoroughly to do likewise), another crusher:

I get stupid, I shoot an arrow like Cupid
I’ll use a word that don’t mean nothing, like looptid

“Doowutchyalike” isn’t quite as memorable as “The Humpty Dance,” yet possesses many of the same qualities while amping up the beat and funk factor even higher. And, once again, it’s super danceable and super hilarious at the same time. One of my favorites:

Homegirls, for once, forget you got class
See a guy you like, just grab ‘em in the biscuits*

* “The biscuits” may or may not be a term that has lasted to this day in my household.

“The Way We Swing” slows things way down with a deeply funky, bluesy guitar hook.

Peace and humpty-ness forever.

Personal stuff that’s somehow related to Digital Underground’s Sex Packets

I’ve talked a nice amount about living in Berkeley back when I first moved to California from my homeland of New York in the late ‘90s. All told, I wound up living in the Bay Area for about five years before moving on to SoCal.

Digital Underground hails from Oakland, a city that I lived in and worked in for stretches of time. On the living front, though the mailing address was within the city limits, the locale was anything but urban. I lived way up high in the Oakland Hills. There were parts of it that I enjoyed – including the only spell in my adult life (outside of being a Resident Advisor in college) when I lived in my own, and being really close to incredible, forest-y hiking trails.

That said, I enjoyed moving in with my then girlfriend, now wife, even more. Our final stint in the Bay Area was in the city of Richmond, which is its own tale for another day.

While a full time graduate school student at San Jose State University, I not only had a hellacious commute to classes, but also managed to work 35 hours a week doing clerical work at a dusty law office in downtown Oakland. It was an odd gig but helped to pay some bills, and it was also an opportunity to get heavily into books on tape (this being the era before podcasts and Internet streaming).

I bought a bunch of really eclectic audio books on eBay for $1 apiece to keep my brain engaged. They ranged from The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky (better than I expected, though I had to rewind a bunch to keep track of the Russian names) to a thriller called The Day Trader by Stephen Frey (really enjoyed it, though his other stuff didn’t hold up nearly as well) to an autobiography by Colin Powell (I came away really impressed, though his legacy post-George W. Bush administration and the runup to the Iraq War makes is somewhat complex, I’d say).

Anyway, I should add that I enjoyed living in and around Oakland on the whole. It has some great attractions, such as Lake Merritt and Jack London Square and the suburb of Rockridge.

Some stats & info about Digital Underground – Sex Packets

  • What kind of musical stylings does this album represent? Rap, Hip Hop, Bay Area Hip Hop, Funky Hip Hop, Dance Music
  • Rolling Stone’s greatest 500 albums ranking – not ranked!
  • All Music’s rating – 5 out of 5 stars
  • When was Sex Packets released? 1990
  • My ranking, the one you’re reading right now – #493 out of 1,000

Digital Underground’s Sex Packets on Spotify

A lyrical snippet from Digital Underground’s Sex Packets that’s evocative of the album in some way, maybe

The Humpty Dance is your chance to do the hump.

What’s the most interesting thing about Digital Underground’s Sex Packets that most people don’t know?

Sex Packets features the debut of Tupac Shakur, who was a member of Digital Underground at the time. He made his first recorded appearance on the track, “Same Song.”

What does the “best 1,000 albums ever” mean and why are you doing this?

Yeah, I know it’s audacious, a little crazy (okay, maybe a lot cray cray), bordering on criminal nerdery.

But here’s what it’s NOT: a definitive list of the Greatest Albums of All-Time. This is 100% my own personal super biased, incredibly subjective review of what my top 1,000 albums are, ranked in painstaking order over the course of doing research for nearly a year, Rob from High Fidelity style. Find out more about why I embarked on a best 1,000 albums ever project.