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Pop Music Reviews : Digital Underground Can’t Get Over the Humpt

It was a sad case of Humpty interruptus .

As its show unfolded at the Palace on Tuesday, Digital Underground looked to be the long-awaited rap group willing to make its performance a true stage spectacle. The Oakland outfit was a dizzying whirl of charged energy, with showers of confetti and Silly String creating a New Year’s Eve environment.

There was some stage fog for atmosphere, and on a salute to their fellow rappers the musicians hauled out huge cartoon masks of their rivals. The nasty stuff came across as more coarse than it does on the group’s “Sex Packets” album, but DU did preserve some of its subtlety, trusting its storytelling enough to offer a gentler, more subtle tone now and then.

Of course there’s nothing gentle or subtle about “The Humpty Dance,” rap music’s “Louie Louie"--dumb, irresistible and essential. When DU’s clown-star Humpty Hump started bouncing around and the booming bass line struck, the crowd erupted. The show was poised to blast off into untracked realms.

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But sorry--it was over. A half-hour build-up to greatness instead dissolved into a guest-star party-jam encore with Tone Loc and Ice Cube, among others, on a crowded stage. Financial note: the ticket price for the 30-minute set (which was preceded by Mellow Man Ace’s 20-minute stint) was $20.


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