Amoeblog

29 Years Later, Too $hort's "Born To Mack" Remains Oakland Rap Pioneer's Rawest But Best And Most Definitive Album

Posted by Billyjam, July 20, 2016 11:41pm | Post a Comment

With this week marking the 29th anniversary of Too $hort's album Born to Mack on Dangerous Music, I went back to re-listen in full to the July 20th, 1987 release by "the Godfather of Oakland rap." The album remains Too $hort's best: the one that laid the blueprint for the rest of his long career up to the present day. And although the LP is often presented as Short's "debut studio album," it was actually preceded in the mid 80's by a series of earlier albums by the young artist released on the local Oakland 75 Girls record label. But it would be this release on Dangerous Music (him and manager Randy Austin's breakaway label) album that would be the one to blow up Too $hort on a national level. The album led to the artist born Todd Shaw signing with Jive/RCA who would re-release the album the following year. Then the year after that, in 1989, the NYC based label would release Life is Too $hort followed by a string of many more Too $hort albums that would build upon the Born to Mack blueprint.  On each album the artist would further fine-tune the created persona of Playboy Short that he first presented on this definitive album. Re-released last year in 180 gram vinyl version by Plain Recordings, Born to Mack is a must have and worth it for just the two Too $hort classics "Freaky Tales" and "Dope Fiend Beat." 

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Famous Bay Area Rap Battles: Too $hort vs. KMEL

Posted by Billyjam, March 31, 2016 05:57pm | Post a Comment
Along with such legendary rap battles as Saafir vs. Casual, another one of Bay Area hip-hop history's most notorious public feuds was the mid-1990's battle in which radio station KMEL foolishly went head to head with the "Godfather of Bay Area Rap" Too $hort by banning his music on their airwaves, and stating that he hadn't had a hit in years and was at his career's end. Last Saturday at Oakland's Fox Theater the veteran Bay Area rap artist celebrated 30 years in the rap game. His show featured many surprise guests plus a smoldering hot live funk band backing him, along with opening acts Zion I, The Grouch & Eligh and DJ Fresh. Always a fan of funk and funk played live, the artist born Todd Shaw's live band included Kev Choice on keyboards while his many mic guests of the evening included Freddy B, E-40, Richie Rich, Silk-E, Mistah F.A.B., Lil Eazy E, and Raphael Saadiq who joined him on such songs as “The Ghetto” with Saadiq supplying the chorus part that was done by Gerald Levert on the original 1990 Too $hort version of the Donny Hathaway inspired hit single. Note that tonight's (March 31) added second show was cancelled at the last minute. Refunds at point of purchase.

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30+ Years On The Mic And He (Still) Ain't Jokin' "Sir Too $hort Coming Straight From Oakland" With Two Shows This Month @ Fox Theater

Posted by Billyjam, March 21, 2016 07:01pm | Post a Comment

This month Too $hort, the Godfather of Oakland rap/hip-hop, will be playing two concerts at Oakland's Fox Theater at 1807 Telegraph Ave. in the Uptown district. After quickly selling out the original sole scheduled hometown show, taking place this Saturday March 26th, a second Fox Theater date was added at the same venue for next week, Thursday March 31st. Both are 8pm shows. Buy tix here: $39.50 and $49.50 + fees. Both Oakland concerts will feature a live band backing Too $hort, along with opening acts Zion I, The Grouch & Eligh and DJ Fresh

The two Oakland concerts by the consistently active rap artist born Todd Shaw are part of the veteran hip-hop artist's ongoing celebration of thirty years in the rap game. These have included recent concerts in Las Vegas and last week in Austin during SxSW. But of all his recent concert dates across the US, it's $hort's hometown shows that have gotten the overwhelmingly best response. Clearly Too $hort fans in Oakland and the greater Bay Area outnumber fans everywhere else, even in LA where he was born, and currently lives, or Atlanta where he had previously relocated to for a period. In Bay Area hip-hop circles both fans and fellow hip-hop artists, from hardcore rap to conscious hip-hop and turntablism, totally love their Too $hort! They not only love his music but also his rich legacy as a West Coast rap pioneer. That includes his early days primitive but profitable "custom made" tape recordings, and his (and manager Randy Austin's) trailblazing "out the trunk" approach to grassroots distribution. Plus the fact that, in a genre that most artists are lucky to make to ten years in their careers, that he's into his third decade as a relevant hip-hop artist. More importantly he's done it all on his own terms.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: Too $hort's Landmark Release "Life Is....Too $hort"

Posted by Billyjam, April 29, 2014 02:45pm | Post a Comment
In true battle rap tradition the cover of Too $hort's classic late eighties album Life Is…Too $hort shows the Oakland rapper, in a now iconic photo by Oakland photographer Victor Hall, triumphantly posing over the headstone of one of his fictitious fallen rap rivals "Sucker MC John Doe" who was "Born on Stage" and "Died on Wax. Rest In Peace."   The ten track album was originally released 26 years ago and, of the close to twenty albums that the prolific, pioneering Oakland rapper born (in LA) Todd Shaw has put out over an illustrious career that dates back to the early eighties and continues up to this day, Life Is...Too Short (along with Born To Mack), remains among the most popular Too $hort albums with diehard fans who identify with the artist's notorious player/mack persona.

Released in January 1988 when he was already "Eight years on the mic and I'm not joking. Sir Too Short coming straight from Oakland," Life Is...Too Short was the rapper's fifth album and his second for Jive Records - co-released and first released via the East Bay indie Dangerous Music. Over rumbling bass-lines and predominantly slowed down BPM booming tracks, mostly produced by Al Eaton at his now legendary East Bay One Little Indian Studios, Life is..... offered up plenty of $hort Dog's trademark "nasty raps" to satisfy fans of his Richard Pryor-meets-Blowfly inspired sexually explicit rhymes  that were personified by the previous album's (Born To Mack) underground hit "Freaky Tales."  $hort continued that theme on such tracks as "Pimp Tha Hoe,"  the sexually charged "Don't Fight The Feeling" (that, along with the Dangerous Crew compilation - also via Dangerous Music - introduced the rap world to a pre "Players Club" Rappin' 4-Tay), and the self-explanatory "Cuss Words" which, not surprisingly, offered a non-stop barrage of cuss word  tales of naughty nastiness that began with $hort rapping, "To all you bitches, hoes, and all that shit. Here's another rap that I'm ready to spit. It goes like this, my name is $hort. I'm tearin shit up like never before Pimp slaps, makin snaps. Cold cash money and Too $hort raps." The song, which shocked parent groups at the time, went on to include $hort threatening to "fuck your wife" with the "your" being anyone who crossed his path.

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Hip-Hop History Tuesdays: The Roots of Oakland Rap and The Birth of Bay Area Hip-Hop in the 1980s

Posted by Billyjam, November 26, 2013 06:15pm | Post a Comment

Motorcycle Mike
Today's richly vibrant, prolific, and diverse Bay Area hip-hop  scene, with thousands of artists currently making a broad range of styles, humbly began in Oakland 32 years ago back in 1981. It was early in that year when the very first Oakland rap release (also the very first known Bay Area rap release) dropped: Motorcycle Mike's single "Super Rat." The record arrived in a time when hip-hop or rap music was still considered an East Coast/New York artform that, for some odd (elitist?) reason, could not hail from the West Coast. This belief was challenged with releases like releases like Motorcyle Mike's debut 12" rap single. That record by the artist, who was also known as Motorcycle Mike Dappa, was entitled "Super Rat" and was produced by Gerald Robinson and released on the tiny indie Hodisk Records -- the label run by Nicky Moore that also relToo $hort Don't Stop Rappineased the Numonics.  Born Phil Lewis and influenced by Bootsy Collins as much as the Sugarhill Gang,  Motorcycle Mike was, not surprisingly, a motorbike fanatic. Pro-Black in its message, "Super Rat" featured the early Oakland rapper drawing an analogy between the then much talked about Norwegian "super rats," who could not be killed by poison but instead got stronger, and the underdog black man in Oakland and other American urban areas who could not be kept down. Motorcycle Mike's original Oakland rap record was followed up later that same year from the East Bay city by the 12" single “Tally Ho!” on Walker Star Records from Steve Walker - an artist who would re-emerged some years later to record under the name Biscuit.

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