When it comes to commercial success, Too Short might have the most understated commercially successful run in hip-hop history. After selling God knows how many copies of numerous underground tapes and his first three albums (Don’t Stop Rappin’, Players, and Raw, Uncut & X-Rated, released on the Oakland-based independent label, 75 Girls) out of the trunk of his car, Too Short’s independent success would garner attention from the major labels who would soon come looking to cash in on his potential. Too Short would sign with Jive/RCA in 1987 and by the beginning of 1996 he would have one gold-selling album under his belt (his 1987 major label debut, Born To Mack) and four consecutive platinum-selling albums (Life Is…Too Short, Short Dog’s In The House, Shorty The Pimp, and Get In Where You Fit In) with a fifth to later join the club (his 1995 album, Cocktails would become platinum certified at the beginning of 1997). Too Short would return in May of ‘96 to release his tenth album, Gettin’ It (Album Number Ten).
Gettin’ It would feature production from a few of Short’s longtime collaborators and Dangerous Crew members, Ant Banks and Shorty B, along with a few other names that will discuss in a bit. The album would peak at number three on the Billboard Top 200, and even though Short would only release one single from the album, Gettin’ It would go on to become Too Short’s sixth consecutive platinum-selling album and his last. As the new millennium began, Short’s sales begin to wane, as only two of the eleven solo albums he released between 1999 and to date have received RIAA certifications.
I stopped buying Too Short albums after Get In Where You Fit In. That is until I recently found a used CD copy of Gettin’ It and bought it out of curiosity and to hear what a Too Short album sounded like since I last listened to one. This review marks my first time listening to the album in its entirety, but two things I’m sure of: they’ll be a massive amount of pimp talk and a whole lot of “beaatches” thrown around.
Gettin’ It – There’s nothing like starting an album with the title track, which in this case also happens to be the lead single. Shorty B, George Clinton and his legendary Parliament-Funkadelic band build a funky rendition around a portion of a former Funkadelic band member, Bootsy Collins’ classic record, “I’d Rather Be With You.” Too Short uses the smooth funk groove to motivate the listener to go out and get what’s rightfully theirs (i.e., money, a good lawyer, an education (ironically, Short brags about being a “young millionaire with no high school diploma” just a few bars later), out of jail, or whatever else your personal goal may be), or as G. Clinton and the ladies sensually sum up on the catchy hook: “You should be gettin’ it…gettin’ while the gettin’ is good.” The song ends with a completely random appearance from YZ reciting the hook from one of my favorite YZ joints (“So Far (The Ghetto’s Been Good To Me)).” Nevertheless, this was a superb way to kick off the album.
Survivin’ The Game – The mood quickly shifts to a more serious tone, thanks to Ant Banks’ troubled keyboard chords and weary-sounding synth samples. Short matches the pensive musical mood by discussing the dangers and consequences of living the street life, in hopes of deterring the listener from walking that risky path. A nice record that would have fit perfectly on a nineties hood movie soundtrack.
That’s Why – Too Short uses this one to address the rumors that he was forced to move out of his hometown of Oakland, and he fires shots at the Bay Area radio station, KMEL (whom he accuses of banning his music) and the Luniz, who fired the first shot on their single, “Playa Hata” from their debut album, Operation Stackola. Short makes it clear that it wasn’t his industry beefs and the bullets with his name on them that he humorously says he “never got to meet,” that made him leave his hometown and move to Atlanta, but claims it was his numerous warrants in the Town, along with the appeal of the Atlanta hosted Jack The Rapper hip-hop convention and fittingly, Freaknik. Ant Banks soundtracks Short’s adventures in relocating with a pretty solid instrumental if you can overlook the wonky synth noises sporadically placed throughout.
Bad Ways – Short Dog invites a few friends to join him on this one (Studd, Murda One, and Joe Riz), as all four parties take turns testifying about their bad habits and tendencies. Everyone involved turns in a competent believable verse, while Spearhead X (with co-credit going to The Soul Merchants and L-Rock) serves up a smooth groove accompanied by the soothing vocals of Sonji Mickey and a nameless male voice on the hook. No chaser required.
Fuck My Car – Not to be confused with UGK’s song with the same title that came out on their Ridin’ Dirty album a few months after Gettin’ It. Short spews tons of misogyny while accusing bitches, excuse me, women, of wanting him strictly for his money and material possessions, but mainly his fly ride (“I know you’re broke, fantasizing like Mariah, get a grip on my bumper, rub your clit on my tire, you can ride on the top, or wrap your legs around the frame, but if you get in this car, you gonna respect this game”). He also gets off one of the worst lines ever spat on a Jive recording: “You ain’t never gon’ stop my pimpin’ style, it’s like two plus two, can you figure it out? You say, ‘What for (four)?’ I say, ‘That’s right.’” Smh. MC Breed (rip) makes his first appearance of the evening, providing adlibs, a few bars, and the flat instrumental. I wasn’t crazy about UGK’s version, but I’d take it over this horrible record any day of the week.
Take My Bitch – Since Short is known for pimpin’ and often calling ladies “bitches” in his rhymes, the song title would lead you to believe this record is about pimpin’ bitches, excuse me, women. Instead, Short goes into his seldom-used metaphor bag, referring to his music as the bitch he’s pimpin’ and that you’re more than welcome to take: “From California all the way to Miami, I pimped that bitch and now the hoes can’t stand me, ’cause when I put my bitch on the streets, niggas rush to the store ’cause they love the beats, we gettin’ all the money, we cashin’ all the checks, I ain’t no fake pimp nigga, you can take my bitch.” It’s no “I Used To Love H.E.R.” or “I Gave You Power” but passable. I did thoroughly enjoy Colin Wolfe’s slow-rolling funk groove and rubbery bass line, though.
Buy You Some – Too Short invites MC Breed, Kool-Ace, and Erick Sermon (who recycles a portion of his verse from his Funk Master Flex’s 60 Minutes Of Funk: Vol. 1 freestyle) to join him on this regionally unbiased cipher session. The drums in the instrumental are nearly nonexistent, but the understated bass line and mysteriously grimy guitar licks are damn near hypnotic. This was originally released on The Dangerous Crew’s 1995 compilation album, Don’t Try This At Home, which only featured Short and Erick Sermon. No disrespect to Breed or Kool-Ace, but I prefer the original.
Pimp Me – This ain’t nothing but a Players Ball, y’all. Goldy and Kool-Ace join Too Short in spewing pimp propaganda, while senior pimps, Sir Captain and Sir Charles add some humorous pimp dialogue in between verses and sound like the epitome of catdaddies in the process. DJ Flash and Shorty B are credited with the warm banger, as Real Tight and Joi Hunter sing on the hook adding some extra sauce to the track with their vocals.
Baby D – Short Dog clears the way for an even shorter dog, his ten-year-old apprentice, Baby D. It’s pretty obvious that Too Short penned Baby D rhymes, whom I’d be willing to bet is the son of a mom that gave Short some box with the promise he’d let her baby spit on a record. Other than the slipper wah-wah guitar licks in the instrumental (which I’m a sucker for), there’s not much to see here, folks.
Nasty Rhymes – This one opens with a couple of singing ladies (Agony and Wendie Rice) asking Short why he objectifies women in his dirty raps, which is also the song’s hook. Too Short never offers a proper answer to the question, but rebuttals with three verses filled with more misogyny and objectification (this might also be the first record that a rapper admitted to enjoying getting his ass eaten, long before it became a trend in hip-hop. If I’m wrong, I’m sure one of you will correct me in the comments). The track is backed by Colin Wolfe’s watery groove that makes me want to bust out in the running man every time I hear it.
Never Talk Down – Much like 8Ball & MJG, Rappin’ 4 Tay is one of those artists whose music I never got around to diving into, but every time I hear him cameo on someone else’s record, he impresses and makes me want to start digging into his back catalog. Then time passes, and I forget about doing so until the next time I hear him make a dope guest appearance and the cycle continues. 4-Tay does it again on this one, delivering a couple of calmly confident verses with his soft-spoken vocal tone, as he joins Short and Breed in warning all player haters to watch their mouths when talking about a true player over Shorty B’s lively drums and an ill bass guitar riff.
I Must Confess – This is probably the closes you’ll ever get to hearing a love song from Too Short. The pimp has finally met his match, as a sexy young tender with amazing vagina has him whipped and wide open, gladly playing the side dude role and graphically detailing their sexual exploits: “I can’t sleep at night, you always keep me up, suckin on my dick, let me deep in them guts, I can’t stop fuckin you, runnin’ all up in you, I know you got a nigga, but you still know what to do, you never hold back, never act shy, make it look so good I never close my eyes, I like the way your titties shake when you’re ridin’ me, you take it out lick it and say put it back inside me.” Short’s verbal porn is backed by more excellent funk instrumentation, which includes seductive guitar riffs and dope drum rolls (courtesy of Shorty B), and his friends (Real Tight, Jalah, and Shorty B) co-sign his sentiments with a little harmony, culminating in a catchy hook. Much like Short’s sunshine-boxed lady friend, this record is also addictive.
So Watcha Sayin’ – Too Short uses this one to get a few things off his chest, as he discusses his possible retirement, his legacy in hip-hop, and refers to himself as the Kareem Abdul-Jabber of rap who will willingly pass the torch whenever the next Lebron James shows up. The mellow backdrop (laced with a sample of females saying his trademark “beaatch!”) is perfect for Short’s reflective words, and we get to hear more slippery wah-wah guitars.
I’ve Been Watching You (Move Your Sexy Body) – The album ends with a full circle moment. It began with an incredible funk groove courtesy of George Clinton and his Parliament-Funkadelic band, and they return to close things out with an even stankier mash-up. The band slaps the listener across the face with seven and a half minutes of soulful sonics intertwined with a P-Funk groove so funky you’ll screw your face like you smell shit on your upper lip. A great way to close the album out, and I’d be scared to meet the woman and the body that inspired this level of funk.
Too Short’s longevity in the rap game is proof that sometimes less is more. Short never dazzled with a flashy flow and delivery or hit you with complex rhymes and mind-blowing content. Instead, you could always rely on getting relatively simple rhymes drenched in misogyny, delivered through his straightforward flow and never changing monotone vocal tone. And that is exactly what you get on…Gettin’ It.
Too Short’s rhymes may be elementary, but the bluntness and honesty in them are what sell them and makes them appealing. But even more appealing than Too Short’s rhymes on Gettin’ It is the production. Overall, the music sounds more layered than his previous albums, and the heavy dosage of live funk instrumentation will seduce your eardrums, resulting in eargasms from the handful of phenomenal jam sessions. As always, Too Short sprinkles a little consciousness into his big bowl of ratchetness, almost as an offering to cleanse his soul from the abundance of dirty raps he spews. There are a couple of duds on Gettin’ It, but overall, it’s an entertaining listen that has aged well.
Gettin’ It finds Too Short at a crossroad. After dropping ten albums in thirteen years, the Oakland native was contemplating permanently hanging up his microphone and finally resting his strong pimp hand. I’m sure the industry left him a little jaded, and as he expresses on “So Watcha Sayin?,” he felt underappreciated and misunderstood. And I’m sure he was also struggling with the idea of not having anything left to rap about, as there are only so many ways you can rap about “pimpin’ a bitch.” But in hindsight, Too Short’s legendary career was just getting started, as he’s still releasing music nearly thirty years later. Once again proving that time is truly illmatic…beaatch!
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Great review of Too Short’s album! The article provides an excellent breakdown of each track and gives a comprehensive overview of the album.