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Too Short Q&A

Still Standing Tall

After 25 years and 16 albums rapper Too Short is still at the top of his game. His latest single “Blow the Whistle,” a tribute to his favorite word (“bitch”) dominates Bay Area rap radio stations and the video for the song is in rotation on national music video channels. His latest success, along with E40’s recent hit album My Ghetto Report Card has helped bring the hyphy movement and Bay Area rap back into the mainstream after a several quiet years.

The Oakland-raised rapper, who now resides in Atlanta, spoke with SF Station during a phone interview following a recent performance in San Jose. His album Blow the Whistle is scheduled for release in August.

SF Station (SFS): What do people in the South think about the hyphy movement?

Too Short: They play the E40 song, but I don’t really think they know what it is and I don’t think there is a lot of interest. People are aware of it and they know it’s a movement and what they do in the Bay. People can’t really talk down on the Bay because everybody knows that there are a lot of people in the Bay Area that sell independent copies and make money off their records. We’ve always had the image.

With the E40 video and all the interview s and press that the hyphy movement has gotten, they know about it, but they don’t really know exactly what it is. It’s getting around, though, and spreading well.

SFS: You’re a veteran rapper. Based on your experience and your perspective as a rapper from Oakland now living in Atlanta, do you think the hyphy movement has a chance to take over the airwaves like the rappers in the Bay Area are aiming to do?

Too Short: If I could assist in aiming folks in the right direction, I would say the most beautiful thing about the hyphy movement is the music makes you dance. If the artists that make hyphy music continue to make people dance, it will stay alive. That’s the bottom line -- it feels good when you hear it. If it keeps that energy, it’s going to keep growing.

SFS: You’ve been on a lot remix tracks lately, including Wolfpack’s song about Vans shoes. That’s been surprising a lot of people as a new trend.

Too Short: I don’t know if it was already going on or if it’s a new thing, but once I heard the song I started noticing how many people of all walks of life actually wear that shoe. The people who wear them say they’ve been wearing them all their life. It was something I guess hadn’t been tapped into properly to give it awareness.

SFS: Do you have a pair?

Too Short: I actually got a pair for the video. I got some leather Vans. I haven’t gotten into the tradition-checkered look; that ain’t my style. They have some Vans I like, though, so I’m not above buying a few more pairs.

SFS: You’re known as a “nasty” rapper that uses a lot of profanity, but a lot of your tracks have a positive message. Do you think that sometimes gets swept under the rug?

Too Short: That’s my personal choice, to be who I am as a rapper. The world of hip-hop and the media do not acknowledge that I’m an extremely positive rapper. Mainly my biggest records were positive records, but the history of hip-hop is not going to acknowledge that. They’re going to say Too Short disrespects women, he curses on records and he says bitch.

SFS: On your single “Blow the Whistle,” which is an upbeat song, you slipped a few lines in about popping pills and the problems that can cause.

Too Short: Yeah, Nas did it and Tupac did it. We go from saying, “Keep your head up,” to “Suck my dick, bitch.” We got that range (laughs).

I feel like I have knowledge, and I want to pass that on with motivational songs like “Get it While the Getting is Good.” I want people to listen to Too Short and get motivated.

SFS: You’ve also got your trademark -- the word “bitch” and the way you say it. When did that start coming around?

Too Short: We started that in 1981-82, right here in East Oakland. Me and Freddy B, it was our signature thing. We got a lot taste from the streets of Oakland and when I went solo that was a major part of what I did. I just kept it going. The first person that ever said it other than me was Ice Cube. Snoop Dogg started saying it and the Chronic album came out. Death Row made it really popular and after that everybody started saying it in the pop world.

I’m pretty sure that it’s recognized in many countries. I get a lot of credits for a lot of things I do in hip hop, and I don’t get credit for some things, but that will also be something that I passed off to the world. It’s funny to me, to see old white ladies say it on a TV show.

SFS: So, is it really your favorite word?

Too Short: Of course. It always has been.