Wednesday, October 27News That Matters

Shock G, Frontman for Hip-Hop Group Digital Underground, Dies at 57

When it was Mr. Shakur’s turn, he quickly unleashed a thoughtful verse about the dangers of success: “Get some fame, people change.”

Mr. Shakur had auditioned for Shock G and was hired to be a member of the group’s road crew. He eventually performed and recorded with Digital Underground, appearing on the group’s “This Is an EP Release” (Tommy Boy) and “Sons of the P” (Tommy Boy), which was nominated for a Grammy Award.

In 1991, Mr. Shakur started a solo recording career with the album “2Pacalypse Now” (Interscope), which sold half a million copies. It included two modest hits, “Trapped” and “Brenda’s Got a Baby,” a song about an unwed teenage mother’s plight. Before the album was released, he also started a career as a movie actor, playing the violent, unpredictable Bishop in the Ernest Dickerson film “Juice.”

By 1993, Mr. Shakur was a rising star. Shock G and another Digital Underground member, Money B, appeared on Mr. Shakur’s album, helping create his first major hit, “I Get Around,” a poolside anthem with a laid-back beat. But now it was Shock G, sporting an Afro and oversized purple T-shirt, with the message: “Now you can tell from my everyday fits I ain’t rich/So cease and desist with them tricks/I’m just another Black man caught up in the mix/Tryna make a dollar out of 15 cents.”

Shock G was born in Brooklyn on Aug. 25, 1963, and his musical instincts were forged by a childhood spent moving around the country. His mother, Shirley Kraft, was a television producer; his father, Edward Racker, worked as an executive in computer management. After the couple divorced, “I spent my biggest chunk of time in Tampa but I also lived in New York, Philly and California,” Shock G had told The Times. “I have always been into music and played in bands starting when I was 10 or 11.”

His grandmother, Gloria Ali, was a pianist and cabaret singer in Harlem in the 1950s. She taught him how to play Thelonious Monk’s “’Round Midnight” on the piano. Then, as hip-hop began to gain traction in New York in the late 1970s, Shock G, who was living there at the time, recalled, “All of my friends and I sold our instruments to buy mixers and turntables.”

Shock G is survived by his parents; his sister, Elizabeth Racker; and his brother, Kent Racker.

Shock G saw music as expansive, inclusive and experimental. “Funk can be rock, funk can be jazz and funk can be soul,” he told The Times. “Most people have a checklist of what makes a good pop song: it has to be three minutes long, it must have a repeatable chorus and it must have a catchy hook. That’s what makes music stale. We say ‘Do what feels good.’ If you like it for three minutes, then you’ll love it for 30.”

Christina Morales and Jesus Jiménez contributed reporting.