Pimpin' pioneer

Pimpin' pioneer

X-rated rapper Too Short is coming to your town

By Chris Jay 06/07/2012

Ever since Elvis first gyrated across the nation’s TV sets, sex and sexuality have been closely associated with popular music, but parents, preachers and politicians, even in their darkest potential perversion nightmares, could not foresee what was to come.

Rock and blues may have hinted at it, hard rock and R&B may have openly acknowledged it, but rap music basically took the topic of sex and exploited it to a level that, just a few decades ago, would have sent its enthusiasts to jail for performing or listening to it.

While there are many who have dabbled in the subgenre of dirty or sex rap, one man proudly stands as its spokesman and elder statesman: Todd Anthony Shaw, aka Too Short or, as he’s affectionately referred to, Shorty the Pimp.

Too Short first made a name for himself on the burgeoning Oakland hip-hop scene in the ’80s when rap was still very much focused on simple, party-friendly lyrics. Even at a young age, however, Too Short was releasing low-budget recordings that were lyrically past first base and heading home, if you catch the meaning.

Then in 1989, Florida’s 2 Live Crew made national headlines when the record As Nasty As They Wanna Be caused a full-fledged legal battle over the First Amendment that almost made it to the Supreme Court. While 2 Live Crew’s songs were primarily about sex, they were done in a fun, sing-along, frat party fashion. Offensive? Yes. Degrading to women? Not necessarily.

Too Short changed all that, however, raising the bar to a whole new level with the release of his genre-defining classics Born To Mack and Life Is . . . Too Short, which brought the rapper national notoriety at the end of 1980s.

Too Short essentially created or, to avoid debate, exposed “pimp rap,” along with peers like Ice-T and Eazy-E (who died from AIDS-related complications), to mainstream audiences. Discussing the proper behavior of being a pimp and how one should treat his “hoes,” Too Short helped usher in the era of pimp cups and pimp outfits being adorned by more commercially successful rappers who often didn’t pay the man enough credit while they blatantly copied his persona.

These days, Too Short, who just celebrated his 46th birthday, is still performing, almost always with scantily clad women grinding against him on stage, and he’s been a prolific recording artist, having released more than 20 albums, including his latest opus, No Trespassing, containing song titles that would easily double for Penthouse letters.

For his part, Too Short claims that it’s essentially a character he’s playing. Even his detractors must admit, despite the lyrical content, that many of Too Short’s songs were groundbreaking in the use of old funk and soul samples. Even his ultra laid-back delivery was adopted by some of rap’s most famous MCs.

So next time you hear someone refer to a woman as a “biatch” in a somewhat high-pitched voice, drawing out the word in the process, you know who to thank (or not) for that small gift to the English lexicon: Too Short — a man who carved out a place for himself in hip-hop history, one dirty rhyme at a time. F
Too Short will perform at the Ventura Theater with Bone Thugs-n-Harmony on Saturday, June 9. For additional information and tickets, visit www.venturatheater.net.

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