Too $hort
The Game Belongs To Me

too-short1.jpgFor over two decades, Too $hort has arguably been one of hip-hop’s most prolific artists. Since 1983, the Oakland-based rapper has influenced an entire generation, releasing 16 albums, half of which earned platinum or gold status. Long before every rapper under the sun started proclaiming themselves P.I.M.P.’s, $hort Dawg was captivating listeners with his wanton lyrics, vivid storytelling and engrossing pimp persona. Largely regarded as an iconic figure in the Bay, the West Coast Mac has achieved pockets of mainstream success with such hits as 1988’s “Life Is…Too $hort,” 1990’s “The Ghetto” and 1996’s “Gettin’ It.” However, as the new millennium began, Shorty the Pimp began to see interest in his brand of rap wane as his last few projects fail to crack the gold mark. The OG’s musical prospects seem more promising, though, when he prepared to release last year’s Blow the Whistle. The 13th album on his longtime label home Jive Records, the LP rode the hyphy wave and included production from Lil Jon, Jazze Pha and will.i.am. Unlike fellow Bay Area veteran E-40, who crossed over earlier that year with “Tell Me When To Go,” Too $hort’s attempt to win over a new generation of listeners went largely unnoticed. Now, with only one album left on his contract with Jive, $hort is looking to return to his underground roots and focus on his new record label, Up All Nite. In order to kick off his imprint properly, Too $hort released a compilation album, I Love the Bay, in July. XXLMag.com catches up with the hip-hop legend to discuss his new project, burgeoning label and decision to leave Jive Records.

What was your motivation for releasing the I Love the Bay compilation?
It’s self-explanatory. I just wanted everybody to work together and know that the Bay has a certain level of unity. There’s not any major hatred, like, “I want to fight or shoot you,” between rappers. This is a representation of me hangin’ out at the studio with the homies. This is what we came up with.

I Love the Bay is distributed through your own label, Up All Nite. What else do you have planned for the imprint?
Up All Nite is a label I started at the beginning of 2006. The only group I have signed right now is The Pack from the Bay Area. I’m getting ready to sign a guy from North Carolina and a couple of other acts from the Bay. But the main objective is to have a place for me to go as I finish my contract with Jive [Records]. I don’t want to be on any major labels. I did 13, going on 14 albums for Jive [and] I’ve just been going through the motions. They pay me “X” amount of dollars, I make “X” amount of songs and I go on a promo tour. I don’t get a lot of love from the label, as far as pushing my albums. I just do the routine and turn in the album.

So is breaking out on your own something you’ve been wanting to do for a while?
I’ve really been longing for about five years to get back to my independent roots. I figure if Jive saves me a half-million dollars to do an album, it’s probably the same amount of money I’d make if I were independent. Doing the math, it wasn’t urgent to run away from Jive and go independent. It was just a point of, “Well, let’s ride this contract out.” It doesn’t make sense to go to another major label. I know the game. I don’t need a label to tell me how to shoot a video [and] market an album. I’ve got a core audience, so regardless of what I put out, I can sell 100,000 records on an independent. That’s $700,000.

Some cynics suggest Jive doesn’t know how to handle hip-hop artists. Do you agree?
Well, I was doing platinum albums back-to-back with Jive when they were the hottest hip-hop label. There was a time when Jive made a lot more money than Def Jam. They had KRS-One, Too $hort, E-40, Mystikal, UGK and Keith Murray. They had Will Smith when he was still the Fresh Prince. It didn’t change until the late ’90s when Britney [Spears], ’N Sync and the Backstreet Boys pretty much took over all of Jive’s resources. They never really got their hip-hop composure back. They got rich off pop [music]. It was never the same again. Everybody was like, “Yeah, we still love hip-hop,” but then there were no marketing budgets. You just made billions of dollars [off these pop artists] and you can’t match Def Jam and Universal in marketing your hip-hop acts?

So you’ve got one more album on Jive, right?
This is the last album I’m doing with Jive. It only has 10 songs on it. It’s not really what I would call a Too $hort album. It’s more like a commemorative project that will be packaged like an anniversary invitation or some shit. It’s just to commemorate 20 years on Jive and the fact that most artists can’t go through one contract, let alone two. It’ll be 14 albums on Jive in over 20 years. We’re going to throw a big party. I’m not retiring, but I am finished with Jive Records. We’re going to shake hands and say, “Congratulations and see you later.”

Being an artist who is open about his sexual endeavors, how do you feel about Rev. Al Sharpton’s crusade to clean up hip-hop lyrics?
Well, this isn’t the first time he’s stepped up and said his word about how he feels about explicit rap. I think throughout the entire time I’ve been making these dirty rap records I’ve had a guilty conscious about it on some level. I would say to myself, “You’ve got to make some positive songs because you do all negative [songs]. It can’t be all, ‘Bitch, suck my dick,’ without some kind of structure to it.” So I’ve been aware of the double-edged sword dealing with explicit rap. I remember an incident that happened recently. I was speaking to some kids about violence, ’cause there’s a lot of violence going on in the Bay Area. When we opened up the floor to questions, this six-year-old kid was like, “What’s your favorite word?” He was fuckin’ six-years-old! That just shows me the music gets around. This kid knows that my favorite word is bitch. He’s probably in first or second grade.

Do you agree with Rev. Al, then?
I’m not going to speak down on Al Sharpton or Russell Simmons because I know for a fact that they want to ban these words from the airwaves. They don’t want to ban artists from saying these words in the studio; they want this shit off the airwaves. That’s only fair, right? I mean, it really did go a little too far. When I was selling platinum albums, I was totally being censored. I couldn’t release anything raunchy as a single or a video [today]. Somewhere down the line, these new artists were allowed to say very, very graphic things on the radio. I remember not being allowed to say words like “trick.” Looking back at my video career and singles, the majority of them were positive songs—“Life Is…Too Short,” “The Ghetto” and “Gettin’ It.” Those records had nothing to do with drugs and pimpin’. Also, these crusades never mention my name. I’ve never heard, “We’ve got to ban this Too $hort guy.” They bring up Ludacris and Snoop Dogg, but they never mention my name. I keep it under the radar. How, I don’t know.

So you have no idea how you’ve been able to sell a lot of records and stay relevant over 20 years without a lot of promotion or big videos?
I had a sit down with L.A. Reid once. He really didn’t want to have a meeting with me, [but] he asked me how I do it. How do I sell all these record without videos or singles? What’s my secret? I don’t think any other hip-hop artist has achieved what I’ve achieved or the numbers I’ve sold without commercial radio. MTV and BET have never supported me. I probably had four singles in my life that got decent radio play—“Blow the Whistle,” “The Ghetto,” “Life Is…Too $hort” and “Gettin’ It.” And I never ever, ever, ever—out of all the platinum albums I’ve sold—gotten any support from the East Coast. Any other rappers that matched my numbers, all of them had sales on the East Coast. Even Death Row had East Coast people buying their shit. But the East Coast didn’t buy none of my shit. I would sell a million albums and I would look at how many copies New York bought. It would be like 1,000 units. The rest of the country bought a million. [Washington] D.C., Philly, New Jersey and Connecticut didn’t buy it. None of the East Coast communities did.

If you could do it over again, is there anything you would change in your career?
My only regret is… I was in Hollywood in the mid ’90s. I was going around doing auditions and reading for parts, getting ready to get my acting on. I’ll be honest with you; I just got a little homophobic. I don’t have any problems with the gay community, but I just felt, at that time, that it was a little too much for me. After that, I kinda ran away from Hollywood and went back to Atlanta and stepped back into music. But you’d be shooting a video and half the video crew is gay. It’s like, there’s no escaping it. My policy is, don’t try to flirt with me and everything’s cool. I kinda let that whole learning experience make me miss the Hollywood call. If I had the mentality I have now, I could’ve went in there, got focused and been doing what Ice Cube and Queen Latifah are doing. Which is something I would’ve wanted to do. Now, my passion is just embedded in music and I’m more or less cultivating new acts. I know my calling in life, but I would’ve liked to try [acting]. That’s something in the back of my head, like, “10 years ago you could’ve been that.”

  • suge knight

    Too Short is a hoe-ass-nigga, he got his ass robbed in Cali by a stripper and asked me to get his chain back.

  • http://www.dubcnsa.com barrythebrick

    Too Short is definitely a fag, he got caught in LA with 2 rentboys – it was in the national enquirer; he got exposed real bad.

  • http://DDupointdos.state.fl.us Ghost of 2Pac

    Too $hort! Too $hort!

  • Blakjustice30

    Re:BARRYTHEBRICK–Did you say the “National Enquirer” Dog? Come on man, no real man reads that crap. Get your life together…the national enquirer, man please…just wack.

  • blakjustice30

    Suge Knight? Nothing like a little Girl Gossip huh?

  • Sin-cere

    Short Dog is a legend and pioneer. He should be mention with the likes on Kane, Krs 1 and Cube. He was the 1st (or 1 of the first) artist cussing on records. Do your history on that. And reading his interview he’s stand up guy. Show some respect. I’ve learned alot about women and game from Short Dog…. And he was going platinum back in the late 80′s with no airplay. Hip Hop legend!

  • jboller

    Hey short u get much love in d.c. niggaz is bumpin ur shit all the time i cant ride past any club after the let out and here that ol skool short dogg. I know u wit that hyphy stuff but we wanna here that ol skool short dawg that we used to here back in the daze . it aint been the same since “whats my favorite word?” Bring that short dawg back!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • gangsta J

    fuck all the east coast haters. Now the bitch ass east coast muthafuccas hatin on south now.

  • bakerboi

    Shorty da Pimp, what’s up dawg, keep doing your shit man, fuck all the haters and speculator’s. I’m from WSO, Short you know what it is and where I’m from. Anyway, Nigga. Yea Area 4 life. Shorty, get money my nig. you the real legend.

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  • og bobby johnson

    gangsta J Says:

    August 28th, 2007 at 11:38 am
    fuck all the east coast haters. Now the bitch ass east coast muthafuccas hatin on south now.
    ——————————-
    OK homey….
    Is it hate when its true?
    West Coast rap is in shambles….think about it…..your biggest “star” got a butterfly tattooed on his face!
    I fuck with Snoop, dre, x to the z, and of course Nate but Cali aint had a hot rapper out in a minute. Face facts…….west coast needs help. Call it hate but West coast music is trash….for now anyway.

  • future

    @bakerboi

    u might as well have sucked his balls damn get off his dick

  • got game

    “When we opened up the floor to questions, this six-year-old kid was like, “What’s your favorite word?” He was fuckin’ six-years-old!”

    LOL!!!

    keep spittin that game short dawg fuck the industry like a sexy ass whore.

  • FAMOUSLYB.G.C

    Ok this rapper offically makes me laugh he has no career he got like 2 songs that ppl actually listen to because all his music sounds the same. The Game is far away from him

  • OAKLAND KING

    OG BOBBY YOU NAMED HELLA LA RAPPERS THE BAY DONT RIDE WITH GAME WE RESPECT SNOOP BUT OTHER THAN THAT PEOPLE THING EVERYBODY IN CALI WEAR CHUCKS AND DICKIES IN OAKLAND WE ROCK WHITE T’S BLUE JEANS AN JORDANS AS FOR RAP WE GOT THE JACKA,AP 9 KEAK JONNY CASH RIP RYDAH DRU DOWN YUKMOUTH LUNIZ THATS BAY RAP NO GAME OVER HERE

  • http://xxlmag.com King B

    Short Dawg in the house! I’m from Arizona and we bump Too Short heavy out here boyeee! Keep doin’ your thing, 100,000 copies equals $700,000 cha-ching. Fuck the majors!

  • Ryan

    Do you think the dude from North Carolina is Petey Pablo? Come on and raiiiiiiisseeeeeeee up!!!!!

    So when you go home and smell the cum on your breath
    Go to the bathroom and play with yourself.

    I love classic Too Short.

  • fred

    too short sold a mill without even selling on the east coast Ya Area stand up! ohhh and yes there are some tight cats in the bay and on the west coast dem a&rs are on atl nutz and thats all they tryin to put out…watchout for the bayliens
    myspace.com/soulasystem

  • Freddy(Vega$)

    Congrats to Too Short!! for him to be as successful w/out radio play is somewhat amazing, it just shows that if you got reals fans they will support you no matter what!! Burn one for that nigga….CURTIS…..

  • Rockcity

    Whats wrong with the game?

    Much respect to too short, he has been doin it for a long ass time

  • 11kap

    I don’t mess with wack emcees, and Too Short is definite NOT one of them, so he gets props, suckas!!

  • og bobby johson

    @ OAKLAND KING
    I only heard of a few of the cats you mentioned….you might have put me up on some shit. Like i said earlier….i dont hate west coast rap….i just cant respect people who are thinkin GAME is the savior…..My only point was that the west needs some need representatives in the game…..someone official. Some one who doesnt put butterflies on his face and has a toungue ring on change of heart. History doesnt lie with that clown GAME Being from NY, i cant help but feel like the west died with tupac….maybe hip hop in general.

  • Fernando

    OG. Bobby Johnson,

    You obvioiusly only listen to mainstream rap that gets on MTV or BET. Because if you had any connection to the West Coast Streets, you would know that there is a TON of dope west coast rappers and rap groups that dont even try to go mainstream because they make so much bank on the independant tip.

    So yeah, Mainstream wise, the West only has Snoop, Dre, Hot Dolla, X, E-40, etc. But on the independant scene, there is probably 20-30 sick groups or acts coming out of the Bay, Diego, LA.

    And for the record, what good music has the East put out lately?? Swiss? YB’s? Diplomats?

    Redman, Meth., Ghost, Boot Camp are some of the only things I’ve heard worth a damn coming from the east.

  • ricky bobby

    og bobby u terd,,sit da fuk dowwn go listen to one of your mixtape divas from nyc lol

  • OG Bobby Johnson

    Fernando
    first off….I am from NY and have NO connection to the West Coast Streets….having said that….I aint trying to clown the west, am simply saying that they are not represented accordingly in the game….thats it.

    As for the East….the same thing here as out there….alot of cats that are hot but havent blown up yet….
    Papoose, Uncle Murda, Maino, Ransom, J Millz, and a lot more………

    Do not presume to know what I listen to…..the majority of my playlist consits of 4 artist….
    PUN
    BIG L
    Biggie
    Pac
    When i say the west rap game is weak, i mean as a whole…..I do not deny there are some nice cats out there….but Cali needs to get back in the mainstream.

  • og bobby johnson

    ricky
    go jerk off to a gmae poster…..into a red bandana……in the back of a 64 impala and listen to NWA….
    I think that sums up your life…..

  • fo life

    @OG bobby johnson,

  • NEXT TUPAC

    THE GAME BEST RAPPER ALIVEEEEE

  • fo life

    @OG Bobby Johnson,

    you say the west coast is not represented in the game right now, are you going off record sells and radio play? if so you are right, but hell all you here on radio now is the south. i’m from the west coast, there is plenty of good music i could let you hear but if you can’t make a song about a new dance or snaping yo fingers yo shit won’t be played at all and thats sad because i listen to papoose,j millz, and uncle murda also even though i’m from the west but just like rappers that are talented from the west like bad azz, yukmouth, rass kass, these type of niggas won’t get any radio or video plays. These type of rappers won’t get a major push from record labels like they should. And thats sad!

  • Bay Boi 4 LIFE

    Show some respect…this man put ALOT into the game…some of yall mothafuckaz including me wasn’t even born or was in diapers when $hort started in the game…$hort is dat nigga.. Hate it or Love it, this man is a LIVING LEGEND

  • http://profane70009tmail.com profeezy

    Listen, my motherfuckin Grandma has bought at least 2 Too Short albums, the way he kicks his shit is straight old school, even on new school production, thats what got him winnin. And he can get hated on forever, but he still rolls thru his hood, he still stays in dance club mackin bitches in the same clubs regular niggas mack in, NODODY is as real as this nigga in the industry, POINT BLANK .

  • http://MYSPACE.COM/SIRDEZAL SIR DEZAL

    I JUST WANT TO PUT IT OUT THERE-TOO $HORT
    ONE OF THE G’EST RAPPERS OUT THERE!! I FEEL WE ACTUALLY NEED MORE OF HIS TYPE MUSIC OUT NOW-INSTEAD OF ALL THIS B.S.
    “BABY I LOVE U AND GONNA BUY U EVERYTHING!” SHIT THATS OUT NOW!! I GREW UP OFF THAT SHIT,HIDING TAPES FROM MY MAMMA&SHIT!-SO WITH THE EXCEPTION OF A FEW-FUCK DA EAST COAST!! CLEVELAND GOT LUV FOR $HORT DOG FAM..

  • Shadow

    BIIIG shout out to $hort Dawg!!! Keep doin’ what you’ve been doing. Doing what you did brought you fame and bitches and can no one take that from you. Just remember, CALI got your back.

  • Freddy(Vega$)

    Yall dudes want to some real wast coast shit that lyrical and banging?? go find some STRONG ARM STEADY, then niggaz are on Talibs label and been killin the game REAL crazy in the West…..

  • http://WWW.MYSPACE.COM/MC585 M.C

    aNY BODY HATING ON SHORT COULD SUCK EVERY LAME RAPPERZ DICK–SHORT GOT OVA A DECADE IN THIS BITCH–BACK WHEN NIGGAZ WAS IN PAMPERZ..LMAO bITCHHHH

  • Town Biz

    Too Short is the one of the best to ever hold a mic. He’s the Ricky Henderson of Rap. You don’t have to like him but the man has stayed relevent in the streets for 20 years plus. You can’t name another rapper that has been able to say that. The only other rapper that can even come close in LL and he hasn’t made a record for the streets since the early 90′s. Or maybe Cube but he hasn’t had a qualtiy record since the mid 90′s. Too Short is the defination of Rap.

  • Cool Black

    It’s about time someboby reconized game. Too Short is a major part of Hip Hop history no rapper alive has come close to his longevity,his street revelance nor his swagger NOT JAY-Z,NAS,LL COOL J,ICE CUBE,SNOOP,ECT ECT…… I’m just saying show the man some resect had he not been selling records Jive would have droped him years ago. Who esle in the game can use the same rhyme style for the last 20 years and stll turn a profit. Bottom line sex sells and no one and I mean NO ONE canspit that Pimp shit like Too Short.

  • jeffery

    PHUC all the haters on the east coast. Too $hort is the Mack of the Century

  • Nate

    Hoea$$ mof fo’s jaggin off and namin theyselves.

    “Suge” and Barry the Brick- those kinda dudes should be automaticly blocked because they contribute nothing. You know those dudes that talk ish and hide. Yup that’s them, but the worst is the ones hiding online. Even little Todd Shaw would slap the hell out of you if you showed your face- talkin mess against a pioneer like that…

    Well at least he is living a boss’s life while you hating fakers are in your grandmothers basement..

  • TheRefriedMexican

    LiL JON IS COOL BUT $HORTDOGS RECENT PROBLEM IS HE NEEDS TO GET RID OF JAZZY PHA AS A PRODUCER. IM NOT SAYING JAZZY IS WACK (OK I AM). THEIR STYLES DON’T MATCH UP. HOW ABOUT OPNING UP YOUR WALLET AND GETTING DR DRE ON BOARD? BATTLECAT? DJ QUIK? HOW ABOUT FINGAZZ?

  • oakland zuu

    nicca shut to $hort is rap fuck are you talking bout buster

  • Stax On Deck

    A Living LEGEND!

  • green doggg

    too short is a livin legend
    he has invented the word biatch!!!!

  • Accurate

    “My policy is, don’t try to flirt with me and everything’s cool.” Lmao!

  • damn

    I have to agree with my boy refriedmexican. Jazze Pha is trash…..well maybe trash is a harsh word. His style and T double o’s dont match up. What ever happened to that dude Ant Banks that used to do his tracks? Dre, Battlecat, or DJ Quik would be a hot look for Todd. I grew up on his shit to. Hidin tapes from my momma to. Shit I remember when I first heard “Paula and Janet” I was like 10 or 11 and it was one of the first hip hop records I had heard. I was like daaammnn. He introduced me to hip hop and Ive had many memories to the word “biaaaaaatch”. Shit maybe some label out there will recognize game and sign him and he’ll go plat one more time before retiring. That’d be the shit.

  • Holla

    Too Short is a legendy – pay respect

  • Nah

    too short loves the pipe

  • Holla

    one of the best interviews ive read in a minute

  • Holla

    one of the best interviews ive read in a long time

  • http://www.myspace.com/deandresurrellthegreat deandre surrell

    too short im from oakland nigga..ol school but im only 23.nigga u used to smoke sherm stick and had fuckd up teeth…i dont know y a bitch will give yo ugly ass some pussy…i think u be lion on yo dick…u forty nigga u cant get hard…