Thursday, July 28, 2005

Classic Interview-Too $hort



Interview by Billy Jam...


This interview originally appeared in the March 1995 issue of No Joke newsletter.

With his latest album, Cocktails, having gone top ten on the pop charts and hitting number one on the R&B charts, Too $hort truly is the pimp mack daddy playa of the year. During a recent visit back to the "O" he talked candidly about everything from his reasons for moving to Atlanta, his planned retirement, the bitch word becoming a "community commodity", the end of his battle with Pooh Man, the new Dangerous Crew album and the Luniz and his other detractors.

You see, right before this interview got underway at Hip Hop Slam's headquarters, someone in the house slipped into the VCR the Luniz EPK tape, issued by Virgin Records, where they straight dissed him. We jump right in after that point.

Too $hort: I can't say it hurts my feelings, but it kinda like disappointed me that anybody would say something about me. Because I just was watchin' the Luniz thang and they said they're, "from Oakland. The real Oakland, no the Too $hort Oakland." I mean, what is that? I grew up in LA, I moved to Oakland. Everything I know as a man I got from Oakland. Every rapper who came from Oakland got it from me. So I was a rapper when there was only three or four rappers in the whole city. And it's like you can't really hurt my feelings, but it dissapoints me that you can't look up and say, "$hort set it out, now let's get our share." I set it out, I never sat there and turned my back. I know some people, like they say (Sir) Mix-A-Lot gets no love in the city of Seattle. I mean, he can't really show his face without a problem. And it's like, I think that happened to him because as he made it he never turned back and extended his hand and brought somebody with him, ya know? But I've been through all of 'em-(Rappin') 4-Tay, Spice 1, Pooh Man. Been through all of 'em and it's like as they left and did things they touched other people. So I feel that's part of me, ya know?

Right. In fact, when you look back at that Dangerous Crew compilation from seven years ago now, it's amazing how many people have just sorta came up since then-(including) Spice 1 and, more recently, 4-Tay! So are you going to do a Dangerous Crew II compilation?
We started on a Dangerous Crew album over in West Oakland and it ended up filtering off into the Get In Where You Fit In album. And you know, tracks went everywhere. But our next project, Father Dom, is already recorded, but the new Dangerous Crew will feature Goldy, Ant Banks, Father Dom, me, Shorty B and Pee Wee also doing some vocals. And we're going to guest star some singers, maybe a male and female vocalist and maybe some other rappers. We got a guy, eight years old, named Baby D fresh outta East Oakland.

Baby D?
He's this little guy who was just sittin' around freestylin' about real things. I'm like, "Did he just say that?" So it's only natural that we'd put him in the studio and debut him on the Dangerous Crew album. That album should be a '95 album.

So what's the move to Atlanta like?
I'd have to say as far as making music goes it's like a relaxed atmosphere. You know, the trees and the lakes and stuff. And it's cool in Atlanta. It's cool for a brother to ride a clean car with the rims slammed on the ground, wear your diamonds and just ride up next to the police and they go, "What's up?" and you go, "What's up?" and keep ridin'. That's different, that's something I've never experienced in all my adult life. You can show your wealth. Even if it's legal or not, you can show it and not be sweated for it. That on top of all the you know, colleges and women out there, it's like the ratio of men to women is like, I don't know, twenty to one. Women over men. It's chocolate city. It's somewhere I went out visitin' through the year of '93 and Jack The Rapper (music convention), that was August '93, when I finally just saw this house. My buddy who's from Oakland had been staying out there for like three or four years and he just kept saying, "Man, I'm telling you, this is the move!" I was about to move up out of Vacaville and buy a house up in the Oakland hills. He said, "Well, what you tryin' to spend?" I said, "Like $400,000." He was like, "Come here, check this out. $400,000? Look at this!" He showed me this mansion. I came back, told the rest of my crew and they was like, "No, we don't want to do it. If we move the company is over with, everything's through if you move. Don't move." I'm like, "Man, I'm out! Y'all can stay here, but I'm out. I'll come back all the time." And then I guess it just hit everybody. I don't know, everybody's got their own reasons. My reasons was because I felt like I've been working for ten years, making records and I feel like I've been selling dope for ten years. That's how I got treated in my own town. I haven't actually lived in Oakland since 1989. You know, staying on the outskirts, the suburbs. But everyday in my life has been in the streets of Oakland. I can name you endless uncomfortable feelings. You know, shootouts, bar room brawls, the whole nine yards. I'm about to be thirty years old, man. I'm chillin'. I'm tryin' to take my company to the next level for us, not for anybody else. And it's like I could of went many places. I could have went to LA. I could have went to Hayward. I could of went to New York. But I chose Atlanta.

Are you gonna respond to Pooh Man's latest rap attack?
I can assure Pooh and everybody else, there will never be a Pooh Man rap comin' out of my mouth again. It was all something that he started after leavin' the crew. It was a friendly breakup and it didn't have to go to that. And then we retaliated as rappers do. It's always just the rap thang, he started threatening the violence and stuff. And it's like, Pooh is cool, man. He says those things and he really doesn't mean them so everytime he sees us he's like, "What's up, man? I'm mad at y'all, but it's cool." So it's like we don't say nothin' about him. We never will again. That's that!

What do you have to say about other people stealing or being influenced by your style, especially using the "bitch" word which you previously popularized?
There's so many people who rap my style and it really pisses me off. And now it's like a community commodity, the bitch word. And I will be talking about that on the new album just to make those bitches who keep sayin' bitch feel like bitches, you know?

What's Cocktails about?
Cocktails Too $hort style is stories about gettin' pussy. That's all it is. "Freaky Tales Part III". There's part II and I hate to tell you, but some of the lyrics that was on that twelve inch that was so unpopular are on Cocktails.

Cocktails is your ninth album and you last under your Jive contract, correct?
No, ten. And ten will be the last one. That will be seven Jive albums.

And then what's in the future for Too $hort?
I can't say yet. There will be a large Too $hort retirement ceremony, I can tell you that much. That's one of the goals I set for myself.

A retiree playas ball?
I want to actually step up and say I had a wonderful career. Thanks. You know, for everything. And nobody ever did it. Everybody always just falls off. If I can't step down, nobody can.

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