A man who has been instrumental in the sales of over 85 million albums suffered a stroke late last month and almost no media outlets reported the near-tragic occurrence.
Often overlooked and living in the shadows of the superstars he has helped to make known to the masses has unfortunately been a fact of life for musician and producer Shorty B. But yesterday, HipHopDX was given the opportunity to speak to one of music’s oft-forgotten talents and bring Shorty B out of the shadows to shine a light on his impressive track-record, current work for some Hip Hop heavyweights, and most importantly the details of the near-tragedy that almost silenced Shorty’s musical output forever.
“I had a stroke in 2005, and then I had another one last month, like a light one, wasn’t as bad as the first one,” Shorty candidly revealed to DX. “I got high blood pressure and I be fighting with it, [and] sometimes it just get out of control.”
Ironically, the same day as longtime friend MC Breed passed away due to kidney failure [click to read], Shorty was checked into an Atlanta-area hospital.
“What [the doctors] told me was that I had two vessels in my brain that was hemorrhaging,” he further explained of his ordeal. “In other words, I was bleeding inside my brain and I had developed a blood clot. And that destroyed my vertigo. I was real dizzy. I couldn’t keep my balance. So they kept me in the hospital for about 13, 14 days. It’s a hell of a battle, but I’m feeling pretty good now.”
Only roughly two weeks removed from his hospital discharge, Shorty is already back at work making music, something he has been doing for nearly three decades.
The D.C.-area native, who began his career in a Go-Go band, was an ‘80’s addition to Parliament Funkadelic. After a move to Oakland and an offer to introduce new acquaintance Digital Underground’s Shock G to his musical hero, George Clinton, Shorty netted his first Hip Hop production credit on D.U.’s gold-certified sophomore full-length, 1991’s Sons Of The P.
Shorty’s Bay Area connects led to a gig as a studio musician for another oftentimes slept-on trackmaster, Ant Banks (where Shorty contributed to four of Spice 1’s gold albums). Shortly thereafter, Shorty linked with the Bay’s most esteemed Hip Hop figure and cranked out arguably the most notable work of his career while adding the signature live bass and other instrumentation that formed the foundation for several of Too Short’s classic songs [“Gettin’ It,” “I’m A Player,” “Buy You Some” featuring Erick Sermon, “I Want To Be Free,” and many more] on seven solo efforts and a couple Short-sponsored compilations.
“Let me tell you ‘bout that bass,” began Shorty regarding the instrument he is most known for playing. “That bass has been as good to me as it has bad. Because, not only was I doing the bass, I was doing production [on those Too Short albums], but it seems like muthafuckas just remember the bass so much that they don’t know I produced too…I ain’t [just] Too Short’s bass player. I did some of the biggest hits Short ever [had].”
As part of Too Short’s mid-‘90’s Dangerous Crew, Shorty worked extensively with Dangerous extended fam Erick Sermon and MC Breed (and revealed to DX that he has amassed a large collection of unreleased tracks the crew recorded). Shorty contributed to three of Breed’s solo efforts and was about to begin work on a planned new Breed full-length shortly after speaking to the Midwest rap legend during the final week of his life.
“He told me he had just got two songs from Ant Banks,” Shorty recalled of that last conversation. “I talked to Breed Wednesday, and Saturday morning he died…We were supposed to go in the studio that following Monday, ‘cause he was gonna get two songs from me for his new album…But he didn’t make it…It was devastating that we lost the big homie like that.”
“When I first came to Atlanta I ended up living with Breed,” continued Shorty. “We all was living with Breed: me, The D.O.C., Jazze Pha, Jamal and Malik [of Illegal], DFC. We were all living in Breed’s house. I lived with Breed for about seven,eight months [until] I found me a house…I [told] Breed all the time, ‘I give nothing but thanks to you homie. Anything you need from me you can have. I’ll never forget that you opened your house to me.’”
Since Breed welcomed him into his home in the early ‘90’s, Shorty has become a fixture on the A-Town music scene.
“That’s why you still seeing my name on everybody’s albums, because I get around,” he explained. “I make myself accessible.”
In recent years Shorty has made himself most accessible to one collective in particular, becoming essentially part of the Dungeon Family. Having previously played on Cee-Lo’s “Childz Play,” Sleepy Brown featuring Outkast’s “I Can’t Wait,” and two songs on Bubba Sparxxx’s standout sophomore effort, 2003’s Deliverance, Shorty has clocked plenty of studio time with DF head Rico Wade.
“[Me and Rico] done Snoop,” Shorty revealed of a surprising recent Organized Noize client. “Snoop came through last summer. We did about four songs on Snoop.”
But Shorty is hesitant to commit to confirming that those Dungeon Fam/Snoop collaborations will ever make it to market. Having been burned many times before with records that he contributed to that never came out, or were done and Shorty was deliberately taken out of the equation.
In addition to currently engaging in a legal battle to finally be paid for his contribution to TLC’s finale full-length, 2002’s 3D, “Give It To Me While It’s Hot,” Shorty has been stiffed of receiving proper credit for his work on many albums, including two from one of the biggest names in music today.
“Me and T.I. fell out about some shit,” Shorty explained. “Believe it or not, I’m on five songs on Urban Legend. [“My Life” is] the only song I got credited for, somehow mysteriously outta four other fuckin’ songs my credit come up missing on the album. And I checked T.I. about that shit. We ain’t been really cool since then…I [worked on] the next album. I’m on two songs on King. I did a song called “Hello.” And I played bass on that track that Jamie Foxx is on [“Live In The Sky”] – no credit. I did get [bass and guitar playing] credit for the “Hello” song. But it’s like, I said, ‘Okay, I can’t fuck with these cats no more. They on some bullshit. And we gon’ end up getting into some real shit if I keep fuckin’ with y’all.’”
Unfortunately, Shorty also appears to be having disagreements with another one of his most known collaborators.
“It seems like he has forgotten what got him to where he’s at,” said Shorty of Too Short and his abandonment in recent years of The Dangerous Crew’s signature live instrumentation for a more crunk-oriented sound. “He’s forgetting to go back to that chemistry that kept him on top with [a] million [plus] sales. He keep making these records with all these…ya know, Lil Jon and all that, that’s all cool and shit, but they ain’t us.”
During his conversation with DX, Shorty made it abundantly clear that he is not bitter about his different dealings in the biz, just more determined than ever to get the most out of his work and make every moment he has making music count.
While having to take medication for his condition, and adjust his diet [“Anything that tastes good has got sodium in it,” Shorty joked. “Luckily I found Mrs. Dash.”], thankfully Shorty’s two strokes haven’t caused permanent paralysis or any other impairing damages to his outer body.
“Unlike my little homie Nate Dogg,” Shorty sympathetically noted. “I understand he done had about five strokes in the last ten months or so. And he didn’t recover as well as I was lucky enough to. But, my blessings go out to Nate Dogg, for sure.”
Fortunately able to still make music, Shorty is driven to keep his career moving forward courtesy of an assortment of artists, from multiple generations, that have come to know and respect Shorty B’s beatmaking prowess.
“It seems like I’m one of the most O.G. homies in the game that these young cats are still checkin’ for,” he said. “So that kinda keeps me going. That motivates me, ‘cause everywhere I go cats want beats from me.”
In addition to Young Jeezy and Cee-Lo recently requesting some Shorty B beats, he has recently produced a few new tracks for Shawty Lo, worked with Alfamega, as well as both Big Gipp and T-Mo from Goodie Mob on their forthcoming new solo efforts, and a lot of new up-and-comers via his Don Boss Entertainment.
“The new generation, they haven’t forgotten me,” said Shorty. “They know I do what I do. And I still got it. I’m still doing my thing.”