When you are the practitioner of perhaps the longest running hip-hop career that stretches three decades, you’ve seen and experienced it all. During the seemingly indestructible run of Oakland, California rapper Too $hort he has been both the subject of adulation and polarizing rebuke with such releases as Born to Mack (1987), Life is…Too $hort (1989), Cocktails (1995), and Blow The Whistle (2006). The man who forever introduced explicit material and a somewhat comedic, over-the-top take on the Bay Area pimp culture to the rap lexicon also managed to pull off one of the rap genre’s most impressive streaks. Nineteen albums, eight gold and platinum releases, and 11 million copies later, Too $hort has put in the work to be lauded as a legend, an unlikely billing for an artist who was frequently told that he couldn’t even rap.
But Too $hort’s legacy is indeed a mixed bag. On February of 2012, the 45-year-old entered a firestorm when he was asked by XXL.com to give “fatherly advice” to middle-school and high school boys. The video soon took a controversial turn when Too $hort offered tips on how to “turn a girl out.” After the fall-out, a contrite Too $hort apologized profusely, stating, “You have to be accountable for what you do...I don’t expect you to waste your time and energy trying to hear me out. I just want to get involved in something that does not [simply] say ‘Hey, forgive me!’ I understand that I made a big mistake.”
Over a month later, Todd Shaw is philosophical about the events and his history-making career. “My fans get to walk up to me, face-to-face, and say, ‘$hort, that was fucked up what you said in that XXL article,’” a candid Too $hort tells VIBE. “Or they can say, ‘$hort, I love that show you did last week.’ They can actually say these things to my face without anyone stopping them. I feel like the best bodyguard that I’ve ever had was to look someone in the eye and say, ‘What’s up?’ That kills all the issues.”
However, don’t expect to hear a choirboy on his latest album No Trespassing. For Too $hort, true lifestyle changes are happening away from the mic. “I don’t want to go out the door as a dirty rapper,” he laughs. “I’ve had a long and [successful] career. I’ve done a lot for Bay Area hip-hop. But I definitely want people to say, ‘That boy had some dirty raps, but he also did a lot of good things for the community, too.’” This is the unfiltered, uncensored story of Too $hort. This is Full Clip.—Keith Murphy (@murphdogg29)