Veteran Bay Area rapper Too $hort will be one of five artists honored today during music television station VH1's Hip-Hop Honors, for his contributions to the art form of hip-hop. The LA born/Oakland rapper can be credited (blamed?) for embeddng the B word into hip-hop's vocab. The show, which airs tonight (Monday Oct 6th) on the cable channel, was taped this past Thursday in New York CIty when Too $hort flew out to NYC for the big award/performance taping at the Hammerstein Ballroom.
Besides $hort Dog, the others lined up to receive awards on tonight''s broadcast are De La Soul, Slick Rick, Cypress Hill, and Naughty By Nature. All five honorees will perform. So will many others, including Wyclef Jean, Lil Jon, Big Boi, Ghostface Killah, Bun B, Q-Tip, MC Lyte, Biz Markie, Busta Rhymes, Chuck D, Flavor Flav, Fat Joe, Cee-Lo, EPMD, Mack 10, Jim Jones, Estelle, rock-rappers Gym Class Heroes, Juelz Santana, Scarface, and Kid Rock.
The latter two are expected on-stage during Too $hort's performance. Remember that it was Too $hort who was one of the earliest believers in the artist Kid Rock. He collaborated with young unknown white DJ turned rapper back in 1990, long before anyone really knew of Kid Rock. Around that same time, $hort was also instrumental in getting the unknown artist added to the Straight From The Underground Tour bill that featured Yo Yo, Ice Cube, D Nice, and Too $hort.
Also appearing on tonight's hip-hop all star VH1 broadcast, to be hosted by Tracy Morgan, will be Luther Campbell and musician /actress Queen Latifah, who did a great job over the weekend on Saturday Night Live's parody of last week's vice-presidential debate in which she played moderator Gwen Ifill opposite Tina Fey's spot-on Sarah Palin and Jason Sudeikis' take on Joe Biden.
Last week, before Too $hort headed out East for tonight's recording, I met up with him at his downtown Oakland studio and asked him how he felt about the awards. "It's really great to be recognized," said the artist, known for putting Oakland and the Bay Area on the rap map back in the eighties. These days the 42 year old Todd "Too $hort" Shaw is one busy artist/businessman, splitting time between Oakland and such places as LA and Atlanta, where he runs his Up All Nite label. The label is home to such young rap acts as the East Bay quartet The Pack, who scored big with the single "Vans." He said that he currently, "spends about 75% of the time in Oakland."
Unlike so many rappers, who typically fade into obscurity after a brief few years in the spotlight, Too $hort has somehow managed to stay on the rap radar, along the way always collaborating with the right artists -- people like Lil Jon (see video collab with the ATL artist below) and E40. Too $hort's current project is the group Town Bizness that he formed with former Tony! Toni! Tone! bass player Elijah Baker, and which features several artists, including Martin Luther, Kev Choice, and longtime Richmond female vocalist Silk-E, whose resume includes having been part of The Coup.
So how exactly has Too $hort, who started out as a young teen rapper in East Oakland way back in the early eighties, managed to remain on top of his game for all these years? "I'm lucky," he replied, quickly adding that, "I treat this like a job and realize that I have to keep working hard at this job." In his time he has seen so many come rappers come and go. He noted that many rappers fall into the trap of "avoiding their business responsibilities...staying in playing video games or hanging out with their girl when they should be out taking care of their careers."
It could also be said that Too $hort's success and longevity might be attributed to his willingness to give back to the community. Whether helping develop up and coming young rap artists (many the children of his contemporaries) through his record label or volunteering his time (as he does these days) at Oakland's youth leadership development Youth Uprising program at 8711 MacArthur Blvd., Too $hort has done his fair share of mentoring over the years. For that alone he deserves tonight's award. Congratulations Too $hort!
Tonight's Hip-Hop Honors show is on VH1 9PM - 11PM.
Too $hort "Life is.....Too Short" 1988
"Freaky Tales" live concert performance in Las Vegas
Too $hort feat. Lil Jon "Shake That Monkey"