Too Short: Confessions From A Legend

posted August 07, 2006 12:00:00 AM CDT | 10 comments

The irony of this interview with Bay Legend Too Short, was just that, the interview was just a little too short. But never one to procrastinate with valuable time talked to the rapper who is putting out his sixteenth solo studio album Blow Your Whistle in August about just how crucial Lil Jon was in the rappers home town and the Hyphy Movement.
Having been resident in Lil Jons hometown of ATL for the last 13 years he has adapted to Dirty South living with ease. So with a dual project coming out in anticipation for the studio album, Gangstas and Strippers, he gave up his opinions on why the strip clubs in the ATL are about a lot more than poles and g-strings.
With a resume that many would be overjoyed with had they only half of his credentials, Too Short, still after his near quarter century in the game has a wish list; read about it here and also hear his confession when it comes to his own personal library of tracks.

So the Bay is shining right now, you must be happy after putting the years in that you have?

Hip-Hop moves around from region to region and if a region is hot, say New Orleans, Miami, Atlanta, New York, LA, everyone has their shit, Chicago and St Louis, when it comes to the Bay Area this is our second time around. We had MC Hammer, the earlier Too Short, Tupac came up in the Bay Area so we had a pretty good run. You know there was bad karma for a while on the West Coast you know as two of the greatest Hip-Hop artists of all time were murdered on the west coast and it kind of left a black cloud over us. The reason that we are having this resurgence is, the music that we are making in the Bay now is not your typical west coast, really slow music not made for the dance floor but for the people hanging on the street corners, smoking blunts and driving around with your loud music. You know that was what the west coast was about, it was about cars and now the Bay Area is about the dance floor. The Hyphy movement is about the dance floor and the cars and when they ghost ride the car, they are beside it dancing. It is all about dancing. You have to have style when you are ghost riding your whip. You know it is a new sound and it is a lot faster.

One person that always comes up in conversation about the Hyphy movement, even though he isnt from the Bay is Lil John. How important has he been in the creation and acceptance of Hyphy?

Well Lil Jon was making and producing the booty shaking songs, all that up-tempo stuff he came in doing with Jermaine Dupri on So So Def and he has this song called "Who You With" and there was like these chants on that, no rappers and I went to Lil Jon and told him I wanted to rap on that song and he said nah I will give you a new beat and he did a song called "Could You Be a Better Player" which was one of the first really hyper crunk songs to come out of Atlanta and I found out shortly after we did it that Lil Jon wasnt happy with his contract and I got him out of his contract, so in return he started giving me beat after beat. So when he started going on to make all these super magnificent hits that he did like "Get Low" and all those and he brought his movement to the world, at the same time he was working with The Ying Yang Twins and some of the other stuff he was working on was artists from the Bay and what was creating the Hyphy movement. So he was a major part of it and he didnt really know and I was telling him his tracks were real hyphy and I said to him if he was just to say the word hyphy in a song that would be it. That was probably about two or three years ago. Then two years ago when I was working on my last album, he got it and he gave me a song with the word Hyphy and he really got it. You know then this time around he got to work with E-40 and Petey Pablo which was more of a crunk record but it established a relationship with him and E-40, so I mean I didnt put them together but basically they got together through a mutual friend and then E-40 went to Lil Jon for his album which was a smart move as Lil Jon was now known in the Bay Area which is obviously where E-40 is tapped in and yet Lil Jon was tapped into the South. SO it was a great move for E-40. Now this year 05/06 Lil Jon is totally focused and he came with these beats for the movement and what I like about it is it is not just a Hyphy song.

You are coming out with a CD/DVD called Gangstas and Strippers with your All Nite Crew, the South is infamous for the strip clubs, how important do you find the strip clubs in terms of breaking tracks?

It would be no surprise to see someone like Usher coming out of a strip club at 2.30 am after listening to the music. The reason he is in there because if you hang out in the strip clubs specifically in Atlanta, you are trying to get a feel for what is about to come. You know they are in there breaking records. I know people that are hanging out in the strip clubs for months waiting to see what is getting broke there.

Is this just an Atlanta thing then?

Well it is pretty much through the South and I believe Detroit has its own little urban strip club scene but it is predominantly Atlanta that is known for breaking records in the strip club. If the strippers, the strip club DJ and the patrons like the song that is being played it is almost guaranteed to be a song.

What encouraged you to move to Atlanta, was it the music?

The music scene. You know it was clear to me what was coming. You know L.A Reid had LaFace records back in 93 and he had a large roster, you know Toni Braxton, Babyface, Dallas Austin was doing his thing, Outkast, it was a no brainer for me to be down there because of the music scene.

So many big names have property down in Atlanta?

Yeah you would need a big piece of paper for all the names of those people who actually have a house down here in Atlanta.

OK so you are now putting out a project that is a CD/DVD, a lot of people are doing the dual package thing, why did you opt to do that?

I am on Jive Records and in recent years I havent been getting much support from the label, so I have been doing a million other things to supplement that and I have developed good relationships with radio stations where I do free shows in different areas, or there might be a certain radio DJ where I do a free rap for his artist, or a project he is working on. The CD that is coming, I knew it was going to be a fabulous album because of the way we recorded it with Lil Jon and Jazze Pha on the production, the last album had a pretty crazy single on it called and they wanted to use that on this album, so really instead of just saying we are going to push this album, but not only are we going to push it, we are going to get you into the best studios and let you do the best album you can do. So they put me in two of the best studios in Atlanta and used their producers and I made a really good album. It was so calculated that at the beginning of last year I knew this album wasnt going to be coming out before the Summer of 06, so I was like that is a lot of down time for Too Short, so I decided to drop me a mixtape and something that has been missing throughout my career was the visual. So that is my new goal to show you in Too Short style, you know you will see a lot more of it and it was just my main decision was for you to know that the new Too Short album is coming. If you listen to the mixtape, they will inform you that the new album is coming.

What are you giving the fans with that project?

Well in Hip-Hop nowadays when you put out an album, it should be the artist that is on the front cover, but for the most part, they are compilations and the reason I say that, is when you look at the back of an album and you see seventeen tracks, sometimes twelve of those are features. When you go to listen to your favorite artist there is someone else on the song. I read letters in magazines where people have said, I really like so and sos album but I wish it was more of him. So I am going to give you a Too Short album, there are some people on there, Black Eyed Peas and I did a song with Tha Dogg Pound, David Banner and a couple of guys from my crew but it is mainly a Too Short album.

This is number what? 19?

Well it is my 16th solo album, but outside of the solo albums I have done a lot of albums.

That being said, all the albums and tracks you have worked on, Can you remember the lyrics to all of them? Would you be able to get up on stage and have people request a track from you and be able to go ahead and perform that track?

I hate to tell you this, but I hardly know the words to any Too Short songs. The only songs I memorize are the ones that I have to sing live in concert. I mean there are too many of them.

My fave track is <i>In the Ghetto</i>, would you be able to perform that?

I know the first two verses but the worst part of it all, is if we sat here and listened to a whole bunch of Too Short tracks, I wouldnt be able to even sing a long and I wrote them. When you go back and read all the interviews you have done I am sure you feel like you are reading it for the first time.

Yeah I am like, did I really write that?

Yeah its like me, I have been doing this so long that sometimes I will go on a road trip and I will put all my Too Short CDs in and I will just ride and listen. Its not like being a fan or anything, it is just re-acquainting myself with Too Short, its like it is totally not me, you know I am detached and I am listening to them like I am different person and listening and learning the character all over again.

You have collaborated with the best of the best, who still sparks your interest that you havent worked with?

Well there are three people on my list and it would be a crime if I didnt work with them, Missy Elliott because she is where I am, exactly where she wants to be, Outkast and Busta Rhymes.

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