If there is one group that undeservedly got slept on in the past couple of decades, it has to be Digital Underground. After a strong start with their debut album Sex Packets, featuring “The Humpty Dance,” one of the most side-splittingly funny and straight banging tracks ever to put to wax, and the strong follow up Sons of the P the group disappeared from most hip-hop fans radar.
The fact is Digital Underground never stopped putting out music. The group has a strong cult following and a well deserved reputation as being one of the truly phenomenal live acts in hip-hop.
As of now Digital Underground are taking a indefinite hiatus after almost twenty years of nonstop touring and recording, but if your lucky you can still find copies of overlooked and under appreciated albums like The Body-Hat Syndrome (Easily the Sgt Pepper of hip-hop albums) or the masterful Who Got the Gravy? in stock at the local music shop or at iTunes.
Just in case the musical resume isn’t enough to impress, it is also important to point out that Digital Underground’s core members, Shock-G and Money-B, are the ones responsible for discovering the late megastar Tupac Shakur.
While the band is temporally retired, rapper Money-B, the self-anointed “gangster” of the group, is working on several projects and we were lucky enough to spend some time chatting with him.
So what lead to Digital Underground’s recent decision to take and extended hiatus?
Well, we have been on the road since like '89 and Shock just decided he needed to refocus himself. It’s nothing like “we’ve broke up” or anything, he just wanted to do some other stuff like write a book and explore some different kind of music that he felt he didn’t want to use the Digital Underground name for. It’s not like we are gone forever but we are on hiatus.
You have been doing your own radio show for a minute now, tell us about that.
The radio show is called “The Going Way Back Show with Money-B” and it is an old school hip-hop radio show. The tagline is “Classic Hip-Hop raw and uncut” and what I try to play Hip-Hop that was released before 1999, what I consider the golden era of Hip-Hop.
Of course the late '80s early '90s are where we [Digital Underground] came from. What’s really special about the show is I interview these classic artists and it’s a great interview not only because I come from that era but because I am pretty personable with all these artists from recording or touring with them over the years. The result is they wind up being real candid and we share personal stories that you might not hear if someone else interviewed them. I’m real excited in the next couple of shows. I have Scarface and also Cappadonna from Wu-Tang on the show. I gotta say you can always download the podcasts through my site at Moneyb.net, I’ve done 47 shows so far.
Do most of the tracks you play come from your own personal collection or do friends hook you up music as well?
For the most part it’s from my own collection, but I have to give a huge shot out to Porkchop from “Da Noses” who are part of the Digital Underground family. There have also been some big contributions from DJ KMP who produces “The Wake up Show” [A long running hip-hop radio show started in the bay area] and has a show, I don’t want to mess up the name, on some Clear Channel station out of Palm Beach and he’s also the music director for my show.
You just launched your website what else do you have going on there?
I got a lot of thing going on at the website. One thing is I’m in control of the Digital Underground merchandise. so the store is set up there. I’m also working on a project with my record label Mandatory Muzic that is a collaboration between myself and a rapper out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin named Scott Knox. The group is called MASK, that stands for Money-B and Scott Knox, so look out for that.
I also got two new releases coming out this month. First, I did a new mix tape, per se, with a DJ out of the bay area called DJ Fresh; it’s like nine or ten tracks of all original music and will be out on iTunes on July 25. The other project I’m really promoting right now is an album called For the Funk of It that is a collaboration between Money-B.net and Tupacnation.net and it’s an album, for the most part, of remixes and some unreleased stuff. There are like four or five songs featuring rare Tupac a cappella verses on there. There are also verses from a lot of people who were associated with Tupac like myself and Mouseman who was an original member of Tupac’s crew Thug Life. I almost forgot to mention the album will also be available as a free download through my site if you sign up for the mailing list.
There is also been some talk of you going out on the road soon, if that happens what kind of show will you be doing?
Right now I’m performing with DJ Nu-Styles who was Digital’s DJ for the last five or six years. We perform collectively as Nu-Money and we go out and I perform the Digital Underground classics that I performed on as well as new songs. What is unique about the Nu-Money performances is it is a lot longer than a twenty or thirty minute show. The show is longer because Nu-Styles comes on first and we are essentially the DJ and the MC for the evening. I come out somewhere in the middle and perform and then Nu-Styles continues spinning for the rest of the night.
Most fans recognize that Shock-G is the production master within Digital Underground what do you think your best offstage skills are?
I think leadership and guidance of the group especially as far as Digital is concerned. Like you said Shock does the production and he is a true artist and I like to say that when you are a genius like that you only know that. So, when it comes to keeping the morale up with the group and handling situations, I have become the voice or the stability of the group. Shock is such a mad scientist that sometimes he can’t handle the social or the people skills that are needed to keep the group relevant.
You can check out all Money-B’s projects or reach out to Money himself through his website.