The Humpty Dance

"The Humpty Dance" is a song by the rap group Digital Underground from their debut album Sex Packets. Released as the second single from the album in January 1990, it reached No. 11 on the pop chart, No. 7 on the R&B chart, and No. 1 on the Billboard Rap Singles chart. The song is sung by Shock G's alter ego, "Humpty Hump", marking the character's second musical appearance; the first was Digital Underground's "Doowutchyalike," a pre-album video-single released in the spring of 1989. The song has been sampled by many different artists and producers. In the song's video, a young Tupac Shakur is visible in the background.

"The Humpty Dance"
Single by Digital Underground
from the album Sex Packets
ReleasedJanuary 20, 1990 (1990-01-20)[1]
StudioStarlight Sound (Richmond, California)
  • 6:30 (original version)
  • 4:42 (short edit)
LabelTommy Boy
Producer(s)Shock G
Digital Underground singles chronology
"The Humpty Dance"
"Same Song"

In 2008, "The Humpty Dance" was ranked No. 30 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop and No. 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 (ironically, Hammer is name-checked in "The Humpty Dance"). Canadian television channel MuchMoreMusic's series Back In... rated the song's video as one of the worst of 1990.

In 2021, it was listed at No. 241 on Rolling Stone's "Top 500 Best Songs of All Time".[3]


Of the five raw elements that make up the "Humpty Dance" drum track, one is a sample from "Sing a Simple Song" by Sly and 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 the band 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.[4]

Subject matterEdit

"The Humpty Dance" is a tribute to Humpty's sexual prowess despite his ridiculous appearance.[5] 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.[6]

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.[7]

Humpty HumpEdit

"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.[8]

In popular cultureEdit

The song was featured in the VH1 series I Love the '90s, 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".[9] The song was also featured in the 2021 film Free Guy.

In 1990, the song was used in the Season Three episode of the TV series Midnight Caller entitled "Sale Away: Part 2".

Sampling "The Humpty Dance"Edit

"The Humpty Dance" is one of the most sampled songs recorded by a hip hop/rap artist, boasting over 100 usages in other songs.[10] 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.[11] Since then, dozens more artists have sampled the Humpty Dance song, from Ice Cube to Public Enemy.

Printed References:[12]

Posted References:[13]

Audio References:[11]



Region Certification Certified units/sales
United States (RIAA)[17] Platinum 1,000,000^

^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.


  1. ^ "Events". Retrieved 2019-09-19.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2018-09-17. Retrieved 2018-09-17.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time". Rolling Stone. 2021-09-15. Retrieved 2022-07-18.
  4. ^ "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.
  5. ^ Strong, Martin Charles (2002), "Digital Underground", The great rock discography (6th ed.), The National Academies
  6. ^ 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
  7. ^ Rubey, Dan (1992), "Voguing at the Carnival: Desire and Pleasure on MTV", in DeCurtis, Anthony (ed.), Present Tense: Rock & roll and culture, Duke University Press, pp. 253–254
  8. ^ Mlynar, Phillip (2010-05-25). "Shock G 'Fesses Up About Humpty Hump – San Francisco Music – All Shook Down". Retrieved 2012-02-22.
  9. ^ Kung, Michelle (2010-09-30). "Justin Timberlake and Jimmy Fallon's 'History of Rap' Duet: The Full Set List". The Wall Street Journal.
  10. ^ "Samples of the Humpty Dance by Digital Underground". 2017-04-25. Retrieved 2017-04-25.
  11. ^ a b "Digital Underground – The Humpty Dance Awards (Feat. 2Pac)". YouTube. 2010-02-24. Archived from the original on 2014-02-19. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  12. ^ "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". Refer to "variant title" after each matching title from sample list. Retrieved 2014-02-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  13. ^ "FLASHLIGHT 2013". FLASHLIGHT 2013. Retrieved 2014-02-06.
  14. ^ "Music: Top 100 Songs | Billboard Hot 100 Chart". Billboard. Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  15. ^ "Hot Rap Songs". Billboard. March 17, 1990. Retrieved 19 November 2020.
  16. ^ "Billboard Top 100 – 1990". Retrieved December 3, 2017.
  17. ^ "American single certifications – Digital Underground – The Humpty Dance". Recording Industry Association of America.