Rewind: Too $hort Keeps Cool in the Fires of Oakland
What is game? Game is what makes you the man. Game is money, clothes, success, girls, swagger. You can talk game, or you can have game. Too Short is a rapper who embodies game. He's the embodiment of Cool.
Too Short is able to make words flow together and become a life size statement. On his breakout album, "Life Is..." Too Short builds the foundation of early 90's rap. Over crispy boom-bap beats and stylishly laid back instrumentals, the West Coast rhyme slayer delivered timeless bars and hits.
The late 80's, early 90's were a mythical time for hip-hop. This was kind of the pinnacle of actually spitting bars that mattered. Each word was emphasized in such a way that each line was just as vital as the line before it. Rappers in this time were able to tell stories with their lyrics, and they boasted and bragged in a way that could actually hurt their opponents. These were the fundamental times.
The album kicks off with "Life Is..." and right off the bat, with one song, Too Short is able to make his statement loud and clear. He is different than you, he is better than you. He's been there and done that. Too Short is here to tell you that life is too short to be doing that clown stuff you're doing. "Cause if a dream is all you got, homeboy / Ya gotta turn that dream into the real McCoy," Too Short lectures.
"I Ain't Trippin'" is Too Short at his ultimate coolest. It's a braggadocios track that chronicles how dope he is, and how far from dope the competition is. He consistently references NOT smoking crack, which is about as cool as can be. As he says, "You think i'm smokin' that pipe / I got money, homeboy / I even got some of your future wifes."
Too Short has one of those laid back voices that only Oakland creates. It's a kind of drawl that just glides on the beat of rap songs like a demon whisper. It's also the way that he rides the beat, like a Cali Cruiser over smooth pavement. The boom bap and funk synthesizors he raps over are perfectly crafted for him to lay waste to his opponents.
Too Short has roots in music and influences from a range of artists and genres. He's an incredibly multifaceted rapper. He originally had a love for Parliament, Funkadelic, and the 70's funk groups that made California groove. These bands were the example being different and in that way, being cooler than everyone around you. Too Short most definitely took this to heart.
On "City of Dope" Too Short absolutely takes this funky, acoustic guitar laced beat for all it's worth. This beat is so dope, it should be put in a baggie and rapped about by Too Short. On this track, Too Short shakes off his coolness and spits some realness about hope the dope game can ruin families and careers. He explains how Oakland is the city of dope, and how he has seen it run through by the destruction of cocaine.
"City of Dope" is a hugely important song, much like Kurtis Blow's "The Breaks." It's a song in which a rapper truly can describe the state of their city, their lives, what they see in their eyes. Things we can only imagine, or see dramatized in a movie. Songs like this are the true portrayal of crack. There's the glorification, the cars and money. There's the consequences of using it, as well as selling it. There is the understanding that this is how it is.
The originality of Too Short is one that has captivated the rap game for decades. He's stayed around, rapping and making moves in the industry. He even took his talents to the adult film industry in 2003. Somehow, Too Short has found a way to reinvent himself and stay relevant. Too Short is still a huge name in hip-hop. A lot of that is because of this record, "Life is... Too Short."