Color Me Obsessed
Starring: a bunch of Replacements fans
Directed by Gorman Bechard
Julien Temple’s year 2000 Sex Pistols documentary The Filth & The Fury is artistically notable in that it refuses to show the band members in present day, cloaking their physical wear and tear in literal shadows and only allowing the Pistols to be seen via 1970s news footage and home movies. Gorman Bechard goes a few steps further with his Replacements narrative Color Me Obsessed—the old bird doesn’t show any photos or movies of the band at all (save the final frames of the movie). Bechard also doesn’t use any of the Replacements’ music, instead allowing the entire story of these ramshackle indie rock pioneers to be told via the talking heads of fans and friends. It’s an odd gambit but one fitting of the Mats who are, in fact, one of the last rock groups to have a legend cushioned by endless too-good-to-be-true second hand anecdotes that remain unverifiable thanks to their existence in a pre-Internet age.
Yes, upon the release of their landmark third album Let It Be, the Replacements attempted to erase their first two albums from history by throwing what they thought were the master tapes of those records into the Mississippi River. No, humble guitarist Bob Stinson did not tell his future wife Carleen about his successful underground rock group, introducing himself to her as a mere pizza cook. Yes, Tupac Shakur was horrified when Tom Arnold told him the Replacements had been banned from “Saturday Night Live” for defecating in a cooler backstage and sending it to the first floor of 30 Rockefeller Center. No, no one can agree which Replacements album sucks more, Don’t Tell a Soul or All Shook Down. Yes, Matt Pinfield is as annoying as you remember him.
It’s hard to say how effective or captivating Color Me Obsessed would be to the strange alien who’d never heard a lick of Replacements music. There is certainly a linear tale here, no different than if a group of bar flies were piecing together a tall tale for you, and the emotion behind the testimonials will surely pique some virgin’s interest in tracking down a worn vinyl copy of Hootenanny. For those of us already enraptured by the tough but tender “aw shucks” songwriting of Westerberg and Co. this doc is required viewing, if only for reassurance that their are plenty of other schlubby white folks out there still gritting their teeth to “Hayday” and “Bastards of Young.”
FINAL SCORE: Three raspy former MTV veejays (out of four).
Cornuzine was a website I used to do. These interviews were the only redeeming part.
I don’t remember the exact moment I realized flamboyant rapper Humpty Hump and his nondescript Digital Underground partner Shock G were one in the same, but it certainly came as a major shock to my young, partially rap-addled mind. How often does anyone (particularly anyone in the music world) successfully pull off concealing an alter ego? It’s practically unheard of. Yet this guy did it. He fooled us all. Granted, most of “us” were between the ages of nine and thirteen and still believed we’d get stabbed to death if we chanted “Bloody Mary” a hundred times in our bathrooms with the lights off, but still…the professional rapper fooled us. Shock G and Deep Throat, in a class by themselves.
People were still unsure of the Humpty/Shock connection as late as 1997. That’s the year I got into a serious verbal tussle with the Salutatorian of my senior class over whether or not Humpty Hump was Shock G. This kid was a huge, huge rap fan and he was completely unwilling to believe the “hogwash” I was casually presenting as fact. I’ll admit there wasn’t much evidence beyond the cover of Sex Packets and every music video Digital Underground ever made (whenever you see Shock G in any of those clips, Humpty has his back to the camera), but come on. Use your brain, dude. Besides, I was the Editor-in-Chief of the high school newspaper. I didn’t go around just making stuff up. Surprisingly, this was not the only D.U.-related fight I engaged in that year.
But I digress. While he was pulling a costumed fast one on pop fans and idiots at large, Shock G also helmed one of the greatest party anthems of all-time (“The Humpty Dance”), made an appearance in the creeptacular 1991 Dan Aykroyd comedy Nothing But Trouble, and spent a lot of time hanging out with Tupac Shakur (Shakur was actually in Digital Underground for a little while in the early nineties—but you already knew that, didn’t you?). In 2003, I had the distinct privilege of interviewing the man born Gregory E. Jacobs; during our chat, Shock dropped numerous bombshells—the biggest of which, I always thought, was the fact that Chevy Chase was a nice guy on the set of Nothing But Trouble. Do you think Chevy paid him to say that? Ah, well, at any rate, enjoy my back and forth with this legend of goof rhyme.
SHOCK G JUST GRABS ‘EM IN THE BISCUITS
JAMES GREENE, JR: Tell me, Shock G, do you have to get in character before you become Humpty Hump? Is it a split personality type of thing, like Paul Reubens/Pee Wee Herman, or can you just toss on the nose and glasses and “get stoopid?”
SHOCK G: I really believe a lot of Humpty’s energy, soul, and sense of humor is in the outfit. It’s possessed. Try on a Groucho nose and glasses, a plaid suit, and a big fur hat and you’ll see what I mean. Then light a cigar and put on some hip-hop and it’ll pour right out of you. Try it one Halloween.
JG2: I did try it on Halloween for many years!
SG: I pull a lot from my uncle Tony-Red (a true-life Humpty without the nose), Bootsy Collins, Morris Day, Benny Hill, and Rodney Dangerfield. All the good pervert entertainers.
JG2: Of course. Not too long ago I saw that special on VH-1 about Tupac Shakur (“Thug Angel”). It was really engrossing. Can you tell us something about Tupac Shakur that you’ve never shared with anyone before?
SG: One time in the early nineties, Bronx rapper Tim Dog did a show in San Francisco and afterwards some Frisco cats had him boxed in and were threatening to hurt him up real bad. Had it not been for Pac, Tim may have gotten murdered that night. This was right after Tim Dog’s West Coast diss album came out, but the album specifically dissed Compton and Southern Cali, and Pac felt like Frisco was ridin’ on Tim Dog unfairly and seized an opportunity to show Oakland’s strength as well as show some loyalty to his birthplace, New York City. I think Pac had also kicked it with Tim Dog once or twice back in New York and felt more camaraderie with Tim than he did [with] anonymous Frisco niggaz, and probably felt a little obligated to help him. It was in between Juice and Poetic Justice; Pac was known, but not yet a superstar or heavyweight in the streets. Anyway, that night Pac told Tim and his people to wait inside and drove across the bay to Oakland and came back with an arsenal and escorted Tim safely out of the club and back to his hotel. They straight rescued that cat. Pac became a true heavyweight in the street that night.
JG2: Wow. Loyalty, man, that’s what it’s all about. Speaking of movies, Digital Underground was in the 1991 feature Nothing But Trouble along side Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd. What was that like? Was Chevy Chase an asshole?
SG: Hell no, Chevy Chase wasn’t no asshole, he was the coolest one around us. He used to fall when he walked in the room to make everyone at lunch laugh. He would hang out and make jokes with us occasionally, mingle with the grips and staff. [John] Candy too, sometimes. Demi [Moore] stayed in her trailer most of the time between shots, and Aykroyd was busy directing. Dan Aykroyd is an even cooler cat than Chevy once you meet him.
JG2: How did you guys get that part?
SG: It was Aykroyd who earlier that year came backstage at a D.U. show in Hollywood and sparked a blunt with us to tell us about the film. He really feels and loves Americas blues, R & B, and hip-hop musicians. It was an honor to make it into one of his films like that.
JG2: Sparkin’ a j with Ray Stanz. I can dig it. What’s your take on the current situation with Iraq? Can I assume Humpty is against warfare of any kind?
SG: Yes, I’m still sickened by the U.S.’s historically on-going policy of “bomb the brown people.”
JG2: As am I. Do you still like your oatmeal lumpy?
SG: I stopped eatin’ oatmeal about two years ago when I gave up sugar and dairy products.
JG2: Oh, snap! If you weren’t a musician, what would you be doing?
SG: The Shock G/Piano-Man side of me probably would of pursued a career in cartooning. I love to draw with markers. However, the Humpty side of me would of liked to have given stand up comedy a shot.
JG2: When I first got into Digital Underground, way back in, oh, say 1990, I was fascinated by Humpty’s false nose and the back story surrounding it. I seem to recall some urban legend about the Hump Man rapping so hard in a nightclub that the roof caved in. Can you recount that story for us?
SG: Smooth Eddie Humphrey was a lounge singer by night and a chef by day back in Tampa during the late eighties until a freak accident gave him first and third degree burns to his face and neck. A water pipe burst and struck him in the back of the head, forcing his nose into a deep-fry grease vat with his neck jammed against the vat’s edge, permanently damaging his throat and historically giving him his signature nasal voice. With his singing career destroyed, he then went through a year or so period of depression and heavy drinking until his half-brother Shock G invited him to rap with Digital Underground (at least according to our 1990 press release).
JG2: I’m gonna be tellin’ that story to my gran’kids. Shock G, what does the G stand for?
SG: Gregory. My mother had a crush on the dancer/actor Gregory Hines when she was a kid.
JG2: Who didn’t? That guy was straight-up dreamy. Alright, G, I gotsta be steppin’. Thank you a thousand percent for your time.
SG: Thanks for the opportunity to share this.
– Cornuzine.com, 2/7/03