Too Short Busy With Two Releases in 2010
This week, veteran Oakland rapper Too Short dropped a 12-track, digital-only album called ‘Still Blowin” on his own imprint, Dangerous Music. The full-length features beats by his longtime friends Jazze Pha and Lil Jon, but half of ‘Still Blowin” was actually produced by Short himself. And while production is nothing new to the man born Todd Shaw, he tells The BoomBox that he’s not usually one to boast about it.
“The fact is that I’ve been doing this the whole time,” he laughs. “Over the years, a lot of producers would just give me a beat: No hook, no arrangements, just beats, and then they’d just go away. So I’d take it from there and I’d make a song out of it. I arranged the vocals, the singing, the added instrumentation, anything, you know? I knew I was a rapper, I knew what I did, so I’d leave it at that and not really share production credit. But had you taken away the element of arranging the song and actually doing the mix and everything, it wouldn’t be the same song.”
Short says that him stepping out and claiming his role in song-making is also in response to how watered-down and loose the term producer can be.
“I think people are getting a little cocky these days,” he asserts. “There’s a lot of guys out there making these little bland-ass beats and are like, ‘I’m a producer, I’m a producer.’ But, to me, a producer takes a beat and makes it into a song. There’s a big f—in’ difference between beatmakers and producers.
“There’s never been a Too Short song ever [where] I wasn’t a part of the mix, that I didn’t have 100% say-so in the mix,” he continues. “I only trust a handful of people — and I can’t really even say that. Like, Ant Banks, I can totally turn my back and Ant Banks will do the right thing in the studio every time. I work with a guy who mixes a lot of songs in Atlanta at Patchwerk Studios, his name is Leslie [Braithwaite], and I totally trust his mixing skills. There are very few people who I come across who I think he knows what to do, or she knows what to do with the song when I’m not in the room. I’ve hand-carved the entire Too Short career out myself.”
Short’s song-crafting skills are evident throughout ‘Still Blowin’,’ particularly shining on ‘Maggot Brain,’ a clever contextualizing of a title grabbed from a classic Parliament Funkadelic opus into a modern-day cautionary tale of crack abuse. They’re also apparent in archetypal sampling pastiche of ‘International Player,’ laden with messages from a global harem of honeys. A staggering 27 years since his first independent record release, and Short still knows enough not to tinker with a timeless formula, always managing to keep current as well.
Short suggests that ‘Still Blowin” is a good “appetizer, the soup and salad” to whet appetites before he drops his next official album, which he envisions will be in the fourth quarter of 2010. For this project, he’s working with John G, a Los Angeles-based producer not usually known for hip-hop.
“His beats are incredible and he goes way beyond just handing you a beat,” notes Short. “I mean, he actually produces.” [‘Still Blowin”] is like a little warm up. People are like, ‘Okay, Short did this, it’s cool.’ Not knowing that, in the cut, is this most incredible project that I’ve worked on in a long time. And I’m a Too Short fan and I analyze all the Too Short s— like I’m not really him, and this next s— that I’m dropping is going to be the kind of album where you say, okay, if you’re 44-years-old, you better make that kind of album, because there’s no room for mediocre right now.”