FREESTYLE: “If You Make It Here, You Can Make it Anywhere,” Says Too Short


Todd Anthony Shaw, more commonly known as Too Short, has been in the music industry for more than 20 years. A pioneer in the Bay Area music scene, he helped paved the way for numerous Bay Area artists today.

Raw and uncut with his lyrics and catchy with his beats, Too Short has gathered a large following and respect within the music industry. Even Beyoncé noted a “Too Short influence” in her most recent track “Partition.”

He says he could hear his influence in the beat too but wasn’t too surprised because Houston has been one of his number one markets throughout his career. And given it’s her hometown, he’s pretty sure she listen to his music while growing up.

“She might be the ‘Queen of Manhattan’ (now), but she is still ‘H-Town’ all the way,” he said.

It’s that underlying impact that Too Short has had in the music industry that now makes him the focus of TVOne’s Unsung, a series that profiles some of the most influential, talented Hip Hop, R&B, Soul and Gospel artists of the 1970s, ‘80s and ’90s.

Most of the time the show ends tragic, detailing the tribulations and obscurity of the artists at the end of their lives, according to Too Short. But he says his tory is different, because his career isn’t over, and the show will only be able to document a portion of it.

“I’m still trying to have an active career, but I’m not thinking I’m about to sell seven platinum albums in a row,” he said, noting that having multiple records go platinum back-to-back was one of his greatest career accomplishments.

He says that he will be getting in the studio with E-40 to start another album, which he says is going to be crazy.

Too Short performed in front a sold out crowd a Club Vinyl in Downtown Oakland last Saturday.
Too Short performed in front a sold out crowd at VENUE, 420 14th street, in Downtown Oakland last Saturday.

Today, Too Short still credits Oakland for providing the “tough skin” that’s needed to survive, both personally and professionally. Without it, he says Oakland will swallow you up but just like Chicago, St. Louis or New York – if “you make it here, you can make it anywhere”.

And if more youth use that training to excel in other areas of life, whether business, music, or education, and put it to use outside of the city, they would appreciate Oakland a whole lot more.

“…You have to go somewhere else. Go to school outside of the bay,” he said. “I don’t want you to leave and abandon the city, but to expand, sometimes that’s what you have to do.”

But since that isn’t happening, the positive history and culture of Oakland is being overshadowed by the violence, he said. Calling it the “I can’t control myself’ movement,” Too Short says it is ruining the value of the city.

“If you really knew how this city really was how it’s been…we have totally killed that,” he said. “We took away a lot of our economy with the violence.”

TV One’s ‘Unsung’ returns January 29th. Visit to find out more informaton about the premier of Too Short’s episode.


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