The Humpty Dance

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"The Humpty Dance"
Single by Digital Underground
from the album Sex Packets
Released January 20, 1990 (1990-01-20)
Format Single
Recorded 1989
Genre Golden age hip hop, hip house, funk
Length 6:30 (Original), 5:42 (Short Edit)
Label Tommy Boy
Writer(s) Humpty Hump
Certification Platinum (RIAA).[1]

"The Humpty Dance" is a 1989 hip hop song by Digital Underground, which was featured on their debut album Sex Packets. The single climbed all the way to #11 on the pop charts, #7 on the R&B charts, and #1 on the Billboard Rap Singles chart. The single is sung by Shock G's alter ego, "Humpty Hump", marking the character's second musical appearance; the first being Digital Underground's "Doowutchyalike," a pre-album video-single released in the spring of 1989. The Humpty Dance features a hypnotically-pulsating bassline and a particularly potent drumtrack that has been sampled by many different artists and producers. In the song's video, a young Tupac Shakur is visible in the background.

In 2008, "The Humpty Dance" was ranked number 30 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop and number 65 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s in 2007. The song was selected as one of many songs to hear and download in the musical reference book, 1001 Songs You Must Hear Before You Die: And 10,001 You Must Download. The song was nominated for Best Rap Video at the 1990 MTV Video Music Awards, but lost to "U Can't Touch This" by MC Hammer. Canadian television channel MuchMoreMusic's series Back In... rated the song's video as one of the worst of 1990.


Of the five raw elements that make up the "Humpty Dance" drum track, one is a sample from "Sing a Simple Song" by Sly & The Family Stone, in the form of a one-measure-long drum loop. Digital Underground incorporated the Family Stone drum loop with four other raw elements; a deep tonal kick drum that alternated between two bass notes, a handclap snare (also a sample, taken from "Theme From the Black Hole" by Parliament), drum-machine hi-hats running continuously throughout which were programmed to 8th-notes, and a guitar hit happening once every bar, all assembled into the now-familiar pattern that forms the Humpty Dance drum track. The vocal sample that happens in the song's chorus sections is from Parliament's "Let's Play House" from their 1980 album, Trombipulation.[2]

Subject matter[edit]

"The Humpty Dance" is a tribute to Humpty's sexual prowess despite his ridiculous appearance.[3] Humpty introduces the appearance theme with the opening line, "I'm about to ruin the image and the style that you're used to," a protest against the uniformity among successful rappers of the time.[4]

In the final verse, Humpty describes the Humpty Dance itself as a loose, easy dance, "like MC Hammer on crack ... Anyone can play this game." The contrast is with the precision dancing in MC Hammer's videos. The song ends with an invitation for people of all races to join in the dance.[5]

Humpty Hump[edit]

Shock G performing as "Humpty Hump" at Les Deux in Hollywood in 2008

"The Humpty Dance" is Shock G's second song to feature his alter-ego "Humpty Hump," who debuted on "Doowutchyalike" which was Digital Underground's first video release in 1989. The character, which sports a buffoon persona, colorful clothes, and Groucho glasses, is sung by Shock G. A fictional biography was constructed for Humpty, the story being that Edward Ellington Humphrey III, former lead singer of "Smooth Eddie and the Humpers," had become a rapper after burning his nose in a kitchen accident with a deep-fryer. Because of the "accident", the character is seen wearing a large nose disguise.[6]

In popular culture[edit]

The song was featured in the VH1 series I Love the 90's, and also on America's Best Dance Crew, where it was included in a dance routine performed by Super Cr3w. The song was also featured in Charlie's Angels. "Weird Al" Yankovic covered the song for the polka medley "Polka Your Eyes Out" from his 1992 album Off the Deep End. The song is also available for play in the 2004 karaoke video game Get On Da Mic for PlayStation 2. It was sampled by Justin Timberlake, Jimmy Fallon on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and by the Spice Girls on their debut album Spice as the track "If U Can't Dance".[7] A performance of the song was featured in the movie Nothing But Trouble.

The song was also featured in The Wood, "Dope (2015 film)", The Green Hornet, Step Up 2: The Streets, and the fourth episode of the Fox comedy series Surviving Jack.

The song is part of Barney Stinson's "Get Psyched Mix" on "How I Met Your Mother." [8]


End of year chart (1990) Position
U.S. Billboard Hot 100[9] 11
US Rap Chart 1

"The Humpty Dance" as a source of samples[edit]

"The Humpty Dance" is one of the most sampled songs recorded by a hip hop/rap artist, boasting over 50 usages in other songs. By 1993, less than three years after its release, it had already been sampled in over 20 popular songs, most of them utilizing its drum track. In fact, it was sampled so much that Digital Underground humorously devoted the song "The Humpty Dance Awards" from their album The Body-Hat Syndrome to the many recording artists who sampled the track.[10] Since then, dozens more artists have sampled the Humpty Dance song, from Ice Cube to Public Enemy.

NOTE: Songs that did not directly sample "The Humpty Dance" are not included in this list.

Songs that sampled "The Humpty Dance"[edit]

Printed References:[11]

Posted References:[12]

Audio References:[10]


  1. ^ "". Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  2. ^ "I made love (4 da very first time) Musical composition. Written by Tyrone La Shon & Howie Tee. Samples: {Do that stuff}, by George Clinton, Jr., Garry M. Shider & Bernard G. Worrell - Copyright Info". Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  3. ^ Strong, Martin Charles (2002), "Digital Underground", The great rock discography (6th ed.), The National Academies 
  4. ^ Hess, Mickey (2007), Is Hop Hop Dead? The past, present, and future of America's most wanted music, Greenwood, p. 80, ISBN 978-0-275-99461-7 
  5. ^ Rubey, Dan (1992), "Voguing at the Carnival: Desire and Pleasure on MTV", in DeCurtis, Anthony, Present Tense: Rock & roll and culture, Duke University Press, pp. 253–254 
  6. ^ Mlynar, Phillip (2010-05-25). "Shock G 'Fesses Up About Humpty Hump - San Francisco Music - All Shook Down". Retrieved 2012-02-22. 
  7. ^ Kung, Michelle (2010-09-30). "Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon's 'History of Rap' Duet: The Full Set List". The Wall Street Journal. 
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Billboard Top 100 - 1990". Retrieved 2009-09-15. 
  10. ^ a b "Digital Underground - The Humpty Dance Awards (Feat. 2Pac)". YouTube. 2010-02-24. Retrieved 2014-02-06. 
  11. ^ "I made love (4 da very first time) Musical composition. Written by Tyrone La Shon & Howie Tee. Samples: {Do that stuff}, by George Clinton, Jr., Garry M. Shider & Bernard G. Worrell". Retrieved 2014-02-06. 
  12. ^ "FLASHLIGHT 2013". FLASHLIGHT 2013. Retrieved 2014-02-06.