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Todd Anthony Shaw, better known by his stage name Too Short, is an American rapper. Too Short was born in South Los Angeles, California, and raised in East Oakland, California during his teenage years. Shaw began his career at the age of fourteen in Oakland, California.
In the early 1980s with his high school friend, Freddy B, he produced custom raps called Special requests for people. Short released his first album, entitled Don't Stop Rappin', on the local label 75 Girls in 1983.
This and his following three releases featured raw, simple drum beats using a LinnDrum drum machine. In 1986, Too Short and Freddie B. founded their own record label called Dangerous Music to distribute Shorts music regionally.
Too Shorts record label Dangerous Music later changed names to Short Records, and then Up All Nite Records. Short came up with his album called Life Is...Too Short in 1988. With the release of this album, he began infusing replayed established funk riffs (rather than samples) with his beats.
The album received positive reviews and afforded Shaw to develop a noticeable fan base. Followed to this album was a string of platinum albums. With the rise of gangsta rap in the late 1980s/early 1990s, Too Shorts style found a natural place in mainstream rap. His popularity peaked in the 1990s with Short Dog's in the House in 1990 and Shorty the Pimp in 1992.
Too Shorts music style is unique in the fact of using real drums and bass on most of his songs. His Shortly the Pimp featured songs such as No Love from Oakland, Hoes, and Step Daddy, mainly dealing with his exploits as a pimp. It should be noted that Too Short lacked certain thematic elements associated with gangsta rap genre.
Too Shorts work never really dealt with guns, killing, drugs, or gangs, but rather focused on the lifestyle of a pimp, the music industry, and sex. His work chronologically straddled the rise and decline of gangsta rap. He has featured a kind of work that is rarely done in the mainstream rap industry.
In 1996, with the release of Getting It, Too Short retired from full-time solo rap. Subsequent work was primarily collaborative, including work with Diddy, The Notorious B.I.G., Scarface, UGK, Jay-Z, and Snoop Dogg. Subsequent work including Get in Where You Fit In (1993), and Cocktails (1995), dealt with similar issues.
Shaw made his appearances in TWDY's hit single Player's Holiday from their 1999 debut album Derty Werk as well as the Priority Records compilation Nuthin but a Gangsta Party. Afterwards, he began working on his eleventh album, Can't Stay Away. It 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 is not usually referred to as a true gangsta rapper because the topics covered were almost solely about sex and rarely touched on other aspects of the gangsta lifestyle. He nonetheless had influence in early and modern gangsta rap and his songs had a great influence on Ice Cube's (rapper and songwriter for N.W.A) early writing.
While most of the 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. He didn't begin working with a more diverse variety of southern artists until 2000 including Lil Jon.
With the released of Can't Stay Away in 1999, he fully came out of retirement. The next few following years saw him releasing a number of new albums. Most of those albums taking on a crunk or Dirty South type sound, as he had become involved in the Southern Rap scene.
Shaw issued new albums You Nasty in 2000, Chase the Cat in 2001, What's My Favorite Word? In 2002, and Married to the Game the following year. These albums all charted fairly well, as they all were in the top 71 of the Billboard Hot 200. The next year in 2004, Shorts earlier 1990 single The Ghetto appeared on popular videogame Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, playing on West Coast hip hop radio station Radio Los Santos.
For his next album, 2006's Blow the Whistle, Too Short took advantage of the new hyphy rap music that was emerging out of his original home base in Oakland, CA. His song Blow the Whistle was somewhat of a resurgence for Too Short as it peaked at number 14 on the Billboard Hot 200.
The single went much better than each of his previous three albums. However, his subsequent releases, such as 2007's Get Off the Stage, didnt get off to big success. After relocating to Atlanta, Short worked with a variety of snap and crunk artists.
He has made several songs encouraging people to survive, stop drug use, not to be a gangster and get money. Some of these songs were The Ghetto and Gettin' It.
Too Short has influenced many rappers who claim themselves as a pimp such as Snoop Dogg. 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 others.
Too $hort collaborated with many Southern Rap artists for his last albums. The most notable was Lil' Jon, giving a new Dirty South and Crunk sound to his works. At present, Too Short is running his own record label Up All Nite Records. The label include artists like The Pack, Dolla Will, Boo Ski, and Li'l J & Boi Payton, FX.
On October 7, 2008 Too Short was honored by VH1 at the fifth annual Hip-Hop Honors along with Cypress Hill, De La Soul, Slick Rick and Naughty By Nature.