Shaw at Martin Luther's Rebel Soul Fest at DNA Lounge in San Francisco, July 2008
|Todd Anthony Shaw|
|Born||April 28, 1966|
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Origin||Oakland, California, U.S.|
Todd Anthony Shaw (born April 28, 1966), better known by the stage name Too Short (stylized as Too $hort), is an American rapper and record producer famous for his rap lyrics' focus on pimping, promiscuity, drug culture, street survival, as in the songs "The Ghetto" and "Blow the Whistle".
A pioneer of West Coast rap, he began recording in 1983, drew renown on Oakland's underground rap scene, and signed a major deal in 1987 with Jive Records, which released his album Born to Mack. In 1989, his sophomore album, Life Is...Too Short, drew wide notice, and he remained prominent into the 1990s.
Shaw was born and grew up in South Central Los Angeles, California. In the early 1980s, Shaw and his family moved to Oakland, California. He was a drummer in the band at Fremont High School in Oakland.
In the mid-1980s, Shaw along with a high school friend Freddy B, produced custom songs (called "special requests") locally on cassette for people in Oakland and the Bay Area. In 1985, Too Short started his solo career and released his debut album, Don't Stop Rappin' on Oakland record label 75 Girls Records And Tapes which, along with four 12" releases, featured raw, simple drum beats from a LinnDrum drum machine. This was also one of the first hip hop records to use the word "bitch" - a word which became one of the rapper's trademarks and was the focus of subsequent raps such as "Ain't Nothin' but a Word to Me".
In the early 1990s his self-produced beats came from mostly a TR-808 and from mid-to-late 2000s, a TR-909 was used. In 1985, Too Short and Freddie B. formed the label Dangerous Music to regionally distribute his music, and with others formed rap group the Dangerous Crew. Dangerous Music became Short Records, and then Up All Nite Records. With his 1989 release, Life Is...Too Short, he began using replayed established funk riffs (rather than samples) with his beats.
Subsequent work was primarily collaborative, including work with Tupac Shakur, The Notorious B.I.G., Scarface, and Pimp C. One of his notable collaborations during this period was on the track "The World Is Filled..." on the classic Notorious B.I.G. album Life After Death; he comes in on the third verse after Diddy and Biggie. Being featured on the album introduced him to a wider audience as well, due to his typical style contrasting greatly with the Mafioso theme of the album. He also appeared on TWDY's hit single "Player's Holiday" from their 1999 debut album Derty Werk as well as the Priority Records compilation Nuthin but a Gangsta Party. After these appearances, he began working on his eleventh album, Can't Stay Away. The album included guest appearances by 8Ball & MJG, Jay-Z, Jermaine Dupri, Sean Combs, E-40, Daz Dillinger, Lil Jon, Soopafly, Scarface and B-Legit.
Too Short relocated to Atlanta in 1994, but he did not begin working with a more diverse variety of Southern artists until 2000, when he collaborated with Lil Jon. With the 1999 release of Can't Stay Away, Too Short came out of retirement, continuing his sexually explicit, relaxed style of rap. New albums released 2000-2003 were You Nasty (2000), Chase the Cat (2001), What's My Favorite Word? (2002), and Married to the Game (2003). These albums all charted fairly well, as they all were in the top 71 of the Billboard 200, but they didn't do quite as well as Too Short's earlier 1990s releases as none of them reached the top 10.
In 2004, his earlier 1990 single "The Ghetto" appeared on popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, playing on West Coast hip hop radio station Radio Los Santos. Given that this was an incredibly popular game at the time, the featuring was acclaimed as a success for Too $hort, both in publicity and in the fame generated by the song.
For his next album, Blow the Whistle (2006), Too Short now took advantage of the new hyphy rap music that was emerging out of his original home base in Oakland. This saw somewhat of a resurgence for Too Short as it peaked at #14 on the Billboard 200, much better than each of his previous three releases. However, his subsequent releases, such as 2007's Get Off the Stage, have not been as successful. On October 7, 2008 Too Short was honored by VH1 at the fifth annual "Hip-Hop Honors" along with Cypress Hill, De La Soul, Slick Rick and Naughty By Nature.
In 2009, Too Short recorded for Daz Dillinger, Lil Jon, Soopafly, Scarface and B-Legit. In 2011, the rapper was featured on Wiz Khalifa's song "On My Level". He also collaborated in Snoop Dogg's 2011 album, Doggumentary in the song "Take U Home" and on the 50 Cent song "First Date". In 2012 Too Short along with E-40 released two collaboration albums on the same day titled History: Mob Music and History: Function Music. Both charted in the top 100 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. Too Short has said the best verse he has ever recorded is a verse for a song on Dr. Dre's Detox called "Man's Best Friend (Pussy)".
In 2013, Too Short was featured on the song The Compliments by the Lonely Island on the wack album.
After 30 years of his career, Too Short released his 20th and final album The Pimp Tape on November 9, 2018.
Too Short runs his own record label--Up All Nite Records. Artists on the label include the Pack, Dolla Will, Boo Ski, Li'l J & Boi Payton, FX. In addition to creating Up All Nite Records, Too Short has been a mentor at Youth UpRising, a group serving at-risk youths for several years.
Too Short played the role of Lew-Loc in the film Menace II Society. Too Short has also worked in the adult film industry, with the 2003 film Get In Where You Fit In. Too Short was an interviewee in American Pimp. Too Short starred in and performed the music for America's Sexiest Girls 2003. Too Short has also appeared in an episode of The Game. Too Short made a cameo appearance in Jay-Z's video for the hit single Big Pimpin'. Too Short was in VH1's Rock Doc, "Planet Rock". Too Short made a cameo in the feature film Stop Pepper Palmer with Scott Schwartz. Too Short released two straight-to-DVD films as well, 2001's Too Short Uncensored, produced by Jarrod Donoman and Terrell Taylor, the DVD Live Nationwide, and 2003's Too Short Presents....Titty City again produced by Taylor & partner Co Garrett.
On February 10, 2012, a video by Too Short was posted on XXLMag.com, a hip-hop website published by Dennis Page. In the video, Too Short gives "Fatherly Advice" to late middle-school and high-school boys. Specifically, he offers "a couple of tricks" for manually manipulating female genitals "when you start feeling a certain way about the girls." The video caused an immediate outcry and was soon taken down by XXL, which issued an apology.
While on the Scoop B Radio Podcast in 2017, Too Short told Brandon Scoop B Robinson that Jay-Z sampled his "Blow the Whistle" song in 2010 in an attempt to recruit LeBron James to join the New Jersey Nets.