On this day in music history: March 26, 1990 – “Sex Packets”, the debut album by Digital Underground is released. Produced by The Underground, it is recorded at Starlight Sound Studios in Richmond, CA, Alpha And Omega Studios in San Francisco, CA and J-Jam Studios in Oakland, CA from Early 1988 – January 1990. After creating a buzz with their independently released debut single “Underwater Rimes”, Oakland, CA based hip hop group Digital Underground is signed to Tommy Boy Records. Led by musician and rapper Greg “Shock G.” Jacobs, the group consists of rappers Money B., Sleuth, Schmoovy-Schmoov, drummer Chopmaster J and DJ’s Kenny K. and DJ Fuze. Taking inspiration from Parliament-Funkadelic, the group create a unique musical style (combining samples and live instrumentation) and image that sets them apart from their contemporaries. And like George Clinton adapting the personas of “Dr. Funkenstein”, “Starchild” and “Sir Nose D’VoidofFunk”, Shock G. creates the alter ego of Humpty Hump, often dressing in suits, fake glasses and an over sized brown nose. “Sex Packets” is a concept album with its main theme centering around the creation of a pill (also known as “Genetic Suppression Relief Antidotes”) that when taken, allows the person to have a sexual encounter with the object of their desire, but is actually a chemically induced simulation while in a dream like state. As part of the unique marketing of the album, Tommy Boy sends out “sex packets” to radio programmers and DJ’s (actually Necco Wafers vacuum sealed in a custom wrapper, with a picture of your potential sex partner on the outside) as a item to promote its release. The album is a critical and commercial success upon its release, praised for its sharp and clever rhymes and tight production. It spins off a total of four singles including “Doowutchyalike”, “The Humpty Dance” (#7 R&B, #11 Pop) and “Packet Man”. Though not issued as a commercial single, one of the albums stand out cuts “Freaks Of The Industry” quickly becomes one of DU’s most popular and enduring songs. Tommy Boy Records issues it as a promotional only 12" single, pressed on red clear vinyl. It features the original mix sampling Donna Summer’s “Love To Love You Baby”, and two remixes one sampling Diana Ross’ “Love Hangover”. The third mix features multiple samples including “Love Hangover”, and snippets of George Benson’s “This Masquerade”. “Sex Packets” peaks at number eight on the Billboard R&B album chart, number twenty four on the Top 200, and is certified Platinum in the US by the RIAA.
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