Too Short has been rapping for over 30 years, and shows no signs of slowing down any time soon. The Oakland, California icon has made what was once considered a fad, a lengthy career full of platinum hits.
On the heels of his freshly-released two-part, Top 200 set of albums with fellow bay veteran E-40, the pioneering legend stopped by to speak to HipHopDX about the History project, working with Dr. Dre for the now mythological Detox album, and appearing on VH1‘s Couples Therapy reality show.
HipHopDX: You and E-40 have these two long-awaited History albums, tell me a little bit about it...
Too Short: The [History: Mob Music] side is us just being true to our roots of us coming up out of the '90s with the sound that we invented. We always called it that Bay area mob shit, you know? Me and E-40 had a gang of those songs during that time, in the '80s and '90s, so it’s just us paying homage to that. The [History: Function Music] side is just what’s going on right now in clubs, and they call the party the function, so it’s function music, party music.
DX: With you and 40 being so well-known for that mob music sound, why make a record like Function Music?
Too Short: Back in the day me and 40 didn’t mess around with Dance music, neither one of us. Then somewhere along the lines we kind of flipped the script and started making songs for the dance floor. Once you do this shit, it’s no-brainer. When you make a song that gets played in the club, it keeps the phone ringing. We could’ve sat there and made an album that sounded like classic Too Short and E-40, but we said we gotta make some shit for the club.
[On both albums], 40 was A&R since he’s been recording 85 motherfucking songs in the last year and a half, and working with every producer on the West Coast and getting all the hot shit. 40 said he’d be the point person and get all the music together. I’d been running around all summer, but we went into the studio probably like last year and did a bunch of songs, we went into the studio earlier this year and did a bunch of songs. But it wasn’t the right time for us to stop and focus the way we always kind of did, so finally we got a deadline and the deadline was August something or it wasn’t going to happen this year.
So basically, he went in and solicited fucking 50 beats from the all the folks he was getting and he went ahead and did one verse, one 16 verse, one 18 verse and then mostly a lot of hooks and shit. Then I came in for like two weeks, just went in and filled in all the blanks and that’s how we did it. We did a lot of songs, in fact we did four songs the same day; a few songs he rapped on them, I rapped on them, then he would rap on them later. By the time I was there to beat the deadline he had a lot of the shit already recorded so it made the process real smooth. He told me he probably has another 100 songs right now. E-40 be rapping his ass off, he wants to do another double with me.
DX: You did some stuff with Dr. Dre for the Detox album. Can you tell us anything about your experience with working with Dre and what you guys put together?
Too Short: I think the best verse I ever spit in my life is over there in Dr. Dre’s studio on a song that he did that... I don’t know if anyone’s ever gonna hear it! It’s the hardest I ever worked on a verse and I didn’t even write it, but the way he directed me was just insane. When he played it back I was like, “Holy shit! Is that me?” People would come to me and ask me to play that song I did with him, but I haven’t heard it since I was in the studio with him. I heard in the studio and haven’t heard it since. It’s a big mystery to me, too. His verse, my verse, he’s got all kinds of people. I hope I make the Detox album.
DX: So if you didn’t write the verse for that song, then who did?
Too Short: Kurupt’s little brother, Roscoe. He already knew what he wanted me to say. He came up to me saying, "I want you to do something different." It’s Dr. Dre, you know what I’m saying? He likes to be an inventor. He wanted Too Short like nobody’s ever seen or heard Too Short before, and that’s what he got. He was so particular about this shit, I came back to the studio two times after I did the verse to change some lines and change some words and shit. The song [is subtitled] “Pussy”, It’s called “Man’s Best Friend," but it’s really called “Pussy” because they never say a man’s best friend in the song. I literally cannot forget, he had me saying this one part, it’s two words: the pussy. And I really said that shit over and over again for about a fucking hour!
DX: He had you saying "the pussy" over and over? Why?
Too Short: Because you got to say it a certain way and I’m like man, I know a lot about pussy, but I can’t fucking say this shit the way you want me to say it. I mean, shit. [Laughs] But everybody told me that’s how it works, that’s just how he works.
DX: You’re on a new TV show VH1 Couples Therapy. Tell me about that.
Too Short: Yeah, man I was exploring some loose ends and it was something that came out of the blue. They asked me to be on the show and we were going over the numbers, and I was like, “Shit, you’re going to give me that much? How long do I have to be there?” They told me a couple of weeks. I told them I wasn’t too sure, but I wouldn’t mind getting that payday. I’m not really like in a relationship to go through couples therapy with. We went back and forth for three days and finally they came back with an angle of you can just come on there. So, I went on there and got a little therapy from a real therapist try to figure out why I don’t like to commit and it worked a little bit. Shit, I really went through the motions and I really did the real therapy. The therapist pulled me to the side the first day and said I was bullshitting. I actually was not bullshitting,I told her I would like to see what’s going on and figure out what is going on with me and these commitment issues and shit. I learned a little bit, but I still find it hard to commit.