Too Short Kept The Funk In The Trunk With This Telling Verse Of His Career (Video)
In 1992, Hip-Hop was changing. The Bay Area, while always an important market for Hip-Hop, had finally produced stars. Oakland’s M.C. Hammer had fast become Rap’s then all-time best-seller with his Capitol Records Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em campaign. Digital Underground, signed to the same East Coast-based Tommy Boy Records as De La Soul, Queen Latifah, and Naughty By Nature had a club craze in “The Humpty Dance.” Shock G’s star pupil, Tupac Shakur, was making impact through jarring, sociological singles like “Brenda’s Got A Baby.”
Too Short was arguably the most tenured MC from the Bay. Even looking past his “special request tape” days in the early ’80s, Todd Shaw had been putting distinctly smooth his voice on wax since ’85. Now backed by Jive Records since the late ’80s, Short was chalking up platinum records, even if they appeared to be slow cookers on the chart. Like the now-defunct N.W.A., Short had a cult following across the globe that existed outside of the traditional promotions and marketing industry. Without radio play, Heads still gravitated to the conversational style of the game-giving artist who fancied himself a pimp and a player, and loved making long-form records on “Dope Fiend Beats.” Following the platinum, Top 20 success of 1990’s Short Dog’s In The House, the MC took two years off. In summer of ’92, Shorty The Pimp (taking its name from a grindhouse 1973 film) was released. The LP would be Short’s first Top 10 encounter (#6), and came at a time where he was especially fed up with an overlooking industry.
“In The Trunk” was a powerful essay from veteran the front-man of The Dangerous Crew. Over sheer drum, key, and horn instrumentation, Short told his story. He collected his props as an artist who came from difficult streets, and was one of the first to rap about the ills of addiction and the prominence of prostitution on wax. Moreover, Short told the industry that he made respected James Brown so much that he did not need to crutch his music in samples. Furthermore, the MC admitted to push back from the East Coast because of it. Multiple times in the verses, he professes his love of Parliament-Funkadelic and George Clinton. All that said, Short reminded those who criticized him that he was actually played in cars, while they stayed in the recording studios, overthinking their messages:
“Some rappers try to come off positive / Where I’m from that just ain’t how it is / They say rap music is here to stay / But the sucka MC’s don’t think that way / It took eight long years before I got my break / So I wonder why rapper’s make fake ass tapes / You won’t get paid like I did, so give up punk / And while your in the studio, I’m in the trunk.”
In the video, Short boasted that his team played instruments, and showed it. He refused to be knocked when he was so grassroots and original. Moreover, Todd kept it simple, but clearly stunted with wide-body SEL Mercedes Benzes and draped up Cadillac Fleetwoods that the team was successful and paid in full. On top of that, there were displays of DJ’ing and rapping with finesse to show that while his style was unique, Short was an MC, not just a game spitter.
If Too Short was dissing people on “In The Trunk” (none of whom he mentions by name), DJ Premier was not offended. The Gang Starr producer/DJ had sampled plenty of James Brown on the three LPs by Gang Starr, but he was happy to remix the track for Short Dog:
The record did not make the charts, but seven years into a prolific career, stands tall as Too Short “can’t stay away” and “won’t stop rappin'” nearly 25 years later. His 2017 entry, The Pimp Tape, is coming soon.