Too $hort with Oakland Post Events Manager Loius King and D’Wayne Wiggins. Photo by Gene Hazzard
Rapper comes up big on giving back to youth
By Paul Cobb
Too Short, Oakland’s legendary indigenous rapper knows that the music and entertainment industry is not just about the money one can make. He now knows it’s what one knows, and when they know it, that counts the most.
In short, Too Short’s now long on experience.
As a student who’s graduated from the University of the Streets, where he started his career at 14, he’s now teaching youth that they should stay in school and graduate and make a plan for a university education too.
He’s had to learn the entertainment business the hard way by taking his knocks on the road to some of his successes. He’s stayed up all night long, many a night, composing his songs. Sometimes he came up on the short side of sales but many more times he came up with some long coin to show for his sweat and ingenuity. Too Short, born Todd Anthony Shaw, April 28, 1966 now has a lot to show.
Too Short has just opened a recording studio aptly named “Up All Night” on the uptown side of downtown Oakland at 1924 Franklin Street.
Remembering the days when it was in vogue for some young rapper’s to shun school to chase the big bucks, by even selling homemade CD’s out of the trunks of cars, Too Short wants Oakland’s youth to have opportunity to “make some quality songs. And to show our youth how to get involved with records and the entertainment industry the right way,” he said. He wants them to understand that the real “street credibility” comes from the ability to think and act properly, not from reacting to some of the opinions of one’s peer group.
D’Wayne Wiggins of Tone, Tony, Toni fame, visited Too Short’s new digs last week with the Post and echoed the rapper’s new soulful message of “giving something back to the community”. Too Short will be joining Wiggins’ upcoming MUSIQ 4 HUNGER concert and he has pledged to work with Wiggins and the Post to encourage 100% school attendance.
With the help of Elijah Baker Too Short will be busy with his own 2 studios while finding the time to teach a class with the Youth UpRising program adjacent to Castlemont High.
“I lecture a little bit. I try to answer any and all their questions. But most of all I want them to pick my brain so they can learn what to do to do the right thing,” says Professor Too Short. Known as the godfather of the “Indie”, the short name for his pioneering style of taping personalized raps by including one’s name as the hallmark of his brand of independent marketing.
When we listened to the rhythm and rhyme of Too Short’s Post interview, he is clearly signaling to us that Short Dog’s in the House and it is time for him to use his amazing skills to get off the stage, throw down the bible of a pimp, blow the whistle on the gangsta and strippers’ lifestyles, stop being married to the game and Get in where you fit in because Life is… Too Short .
“When I was 16 I wish I had had someone guiding me. Now, I don’t want to keep it all to myself. I am here to pay something back,” said Too Short.
“I want Up All Nite Studios to be used to inspire our youth to be up all night studying too because life is too short.”
He’s mastered the art of talking about negatives and turning them with a positive twist. Many of his fans, now his age, want to see if he can twist the negative street raps associated with going to school and being smart as being the right thing for their children.
UP ALL NITE RECORDS is envisioned as the place for students to “graduate” after working with Elijah Baker’s SMASH HITZ STUDIO MEDIA CENTER along with Grammy Award winning producer, D’Wayne Wiggins.
Too Short and Wiggins are mentoring youth to understand that the new meaning of “Gettin’ it” is getting your education and then getting paid. “Education first is the new hustle,” he says.
One twist on his 1993 hit “Get in Where You Fit In” could be another rap re-release that embodies his newest sermonette telling youth to keep up their grades and attendance records in order to even be considered for his program.
“We’re doing big things in li’l Oakland. It’s long overdue,” said Wiggins. “In 1989 Short and I were talking about making history in Oakland and changing the music industry to make a positive impact for the next generation. We’re back at it and it feels good.
Kwame Askia, an educator who specializes in turning around troubled schools, said the rappers can use their magnetism to become the conduits for teaching math, calculus and critical thinking skills.
Post promoter Louis King said ,”Too Short’s efforts at teaching old fashioned love and book learning gives a new meaning to his song ‘No Love from Oakland’, he should re-release it as ‘Mo’ Love For Oakland’—through education.”
Go to www.tooshortworld.com to find out about Don’t Stop Rappin’ and his plans to start kids to mapping their futures.