Real Name: Todd Anthony Shaw
D.O.B.: April 28th, 1966 South Central Los Angeles, California
Label: Short Records/Up All Nite/Short/Jive
Shaw was born in South Los Angeles, California, and raised in East Oakland, California during his teenage years. In the early 1980s, Short produced custom raps (called "special requests") for people with his high school friend, Freddy B. In 1983, Too Short released his first album, Don't Stop Rappin', on the local label 75 Girls. This and his next three releases featured raw, simple drum beats using a LinnDrum drum machine in the early 1980s, switching to mostly the TR-808 and TR-909 by the mid-to-late 1980s. In 1986, Too Short and Freddie B. founded the Dangerous Music record label to distribute his music regionally. Dangerous Music later changed names to Short Records, and then Up All Nite Records. With his 1988 release, Life Is...Too Short, he began infusing replayed established funk riffs (rather than samples) with his beats. It was then that he began to develop a noticeable fan base and a string of platinum albums.
Too Short's songs are principally recognizable for their emphasis on Pimpin' and related sexually charged topics. With the rise of gangsta rap in the late 1980s/early 1990s, his style found a natural place in mainstream rap. Too Short's popularity peaked in the 1990s with Short Dog's in the House in 1990 and Shorty the Pimp in 1992. The latter included songs such as "No Love from Oakland", "Hoes," and "Step Daddy," all of which deal with his exploits as a pimp. While "macking hoes" was a common topic in other gangsta rap of the time, particularly the popular rap put out by Death Row Records, it should be noted that Too Short lacked certain thematic elements associated with the genre. His work chronologically straddled the rise and decline of gangsta rap, and never really dealt with guns, killing, drugs, or gangs, but rather focused on the lifestyle of a pimp, the music industry, and sex. Indeed, his lyrics often criticize crack cocaine users, and Too Short only rarely uses the word "Nigga."
Subsequent work including Get in Where You Fit In (1993), and Cocktails (1995), dealt with similar issues. He retired from full-time solo rap with the 1996 release of Gettin' It.
Subsequent work was primarily collaborative, including work with Diddy, The Notorious B.I.G., Scarface, UGK, Jay-Z, and Snoop Dogg. He appeared TWDY's hit single "Player's Holiday" from their 1999 début 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 really didn't begin working with a more diverse variety of southern artists until 2000 including Lil Jon. In 2004, "The Ghetto" appeared on popular video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, playing on West Coast hip hop radio station Radio Los Santos.
Although he isn't usually considered a true gangsta rapper because the topics covered were almost solely about sex and rarely touched on other aspects of the "gangsta" lifestyle, Too Short nonetheless had influence in early and modern gangsta rap. Too Short's songs had a great influence on Ice Cube's (rapper and songwriter for N.W.A) early writing. Following his relocation to Atlanta, he worked with a variety of snap and crunk artists. While most older rappers from the late 1980s-early 1990s (the so-called Golden age of hip hop) have criticized those genres for their lack of lyrical complexity or content, Too Short has been one of the few active in that time to embrace the new styles. Too Short has influenced many rappers who claim themselves as a pimp such as Snoop Dogg. Because of Too Short's normal rap topic of pimpin', he isn't credited with making uplifting, positive and political songs. Though he has made several songs encouraging people to survive, stop drug use, not to be a gangster and getting money. His flamboyant use of the word "Bitch" (pronounced as BeeITCH or Biatch) that he has used since "Don't Fight the Feeling" has been picked up and emulated by various other rappers (and popularized in the mainstream by Snoop Doggy Dogg) and was turned into a popular slang vernacular used in other mediums, such as radio, television, and movies. Other artists have gained much influence from his lyrics which include E-40, Rappin' 4-Tay, Mac Mall, Lupe Fiasco, The Dogg Pound, Lil Wayne, MC Eiht, Spice 1, Eminem, Young Buck, Turf Talk, 50 Cent, UGK, T.I., Dem Hoodstarz, The Pack, The Luniz, Richie Rich, Ludacris, and among countless others. For his last albums Too $hort collaborated with many Southern Rap artists, included Lil' Jon. That gave a new Dirty South and Crunk sound to his works. some of his greatest influences are Run DMC and The Jackson Five.
Up All Nite Records
Too Short runs his own record label—Up All Nite Records. Artists on the label include The Pack, Dolla Will, Boo Ski and Lil J & Boi Payton
- 1983 Don't Stop Rappin'
- 1985 Players
- 1987 Raw, Uncut, and X-Rated
- 1988 Born to Mack
- 1988 Life Is...Too $hort
- 1990 Short Dog's In The House
- 1992 Shorty The Pimp
- 1993 Get In Where You Fit In
- 1993 Greatest Hits, Vol. 1
- 1995 Cocktails
- 1996 Gettin' It (Album Number Ten)
- 1999 Can't Stay Away
- 2000 You Nasty
- 2001 Chase the Cat
- 2002 What's My Favorite Word?
- 2003 Married to the Game
- 2006 Pimpin' Incorporated
- 2006 Gangsters & Strippers
- 2006 Blow the Whistle
- 2007 Bible of a Pimp
- 2007 I Love the Bay
- 2007 Get Off the Stage
- 2008 The Finale