“I’m not really good at love advice, I have failed miserably at the whole one-one-one relationship and monogamy,” rapper Too $hort confessed. It was hours before he would continue his press day and head over to XXL Magazine’s offices to record the now infamous video clip where he gave advice to middle school boys on how to be a sexual predator.
He was hanging out at Interactive One a few weeks ago, fielding the multiple Valentine’s Day-related questions for TheUrbanDaily.com. The Bay Area rapper has made a career talking about sex, so sex talk was to be expected.
“I’ve never preached against love,” he continued. “Valentine’s Day for me was like flowers, dinner and f*ck and the next day we act like we ain’t together no more.”
However, he was decidedly more candid at the office of XXL/Harris Publications when asked later that day to give advice to high school boys on how to get a girl.
“When you get to late middle school, early high school and you start feeling a certain way about the girls… I’m gonna tell you a couple tricks,” Too Short said in the video which has since been removed from the site. “A lot of the boys are going to be running around trying to get kisses from the girls… We’re going way past that. I’m taking you to the hole.”
The next few sentences shocked and enraged readers of the site for its graphic and sexually aggressive instructions.
“You push her up against the wall,” he continued. “You take your finger and put a little spit on it and you stick your finger in her underwear and you rub it on there and watch what happens.”
The statements have inspired a petition to have XXL’s editor fired and for Too $hort to take a long walk off a short pier. Apologies have been issued by both parties but the story is still spreading.
It would be easy for me to dismiss this incident as just another rapper showing his ass for attention if it had not been for the interaction I had with him earlier that day. What he said was reprehensible, but is only underlined by the complete 180 degree turn he had made.
When I asked him about the first video from his new album, the strip club ready “Money On The Floor,” he was quick to say that it was not representative of what the album, No Tresspassing, was about. “My album really isn’t on that vibe. The album goes through emotional stuff. It’s more of a grown-up album. But I had to give them the Short Dog grimy look to open it up.”
In over ten years of doing interviews that’s a cop-out I’ve heard from rappers before, so I asked him to elaborate.
“I shot 12 videos so far and I’m doing two more for this album of 17 songs,” he said. “And that’s the only one with booty shaking. That could disappoint you or make you say hmmmm. I had a female director who shot all the videos. The only one that she didn’t shoot was ‘Money On The Floor.’ These are the rules I gave her; I said let’s do these videos but they can’t have any cars where I’m standing by the car or in the car driving, or in the club, bottles on the table and chicks around, can’t do the swimming pool where the girls are in bikinis butt-naked and the guys are in long shirts and jeans, and we’re not doing the “open the mansion” doors with the rented mansion. No violence and no booty shaking. Those were the rules I gave her. We shot 12 videos with none of that stuff in it..”
A few days later I did receive a link to his latest video “Hey” which is definitely a departure from the rump-shaking affair of the first single.
Other things we discussed were his beard going gray and his decision not to dye it. He spoke about embracing his age and being an example for other MCs who want to keep performing. “So when you get older don’t dye your sh*t. If I gotta be 60 on the Las Vegas strip with a walker I’m rappin.”
The last thing we did was record the second installment of a new series I’d started called Gangster’s Fairtytale. For the first one we had M.O.P. ‘s Lil Fame reading the classic children’s book “Goodnight Moon.” As expected, the contrast of an ashy-knuckled rapper from Brownsville reading about a “comb and a brush and a bowl full of mush” was hilarious to all who watched it and I knew that it was something worth trying again.
So when Too $hort’s people reached out for an interview I thought Mr. “Freaky Tales” would be ideal. No one would see it coming. The morning of the interview I went to Barnes & Noble and went looking for the potty training book Everyone Poops. A potty mouthed rapper talking about potty training was an obvious pun that could work on camera, but the store was out of copies. So I found two other books for $hort to choose from, Acoustic Rooster and His Barnyard Band and Dinosaurs Love Underpants. After skimming both books $hort chose Dinosaurs because he thought, as I did, that it would get a laugh. We’d have Too $hort repeatedly saying the word “underpants” but this time depleted of his usual sexual innuendo.
So you can imagine the multiple levels of disappointment I felt when I read about the video he did for my peers at XXL. I emphasize peers because I used to work in that building as the Editor of Scratch Magazine and know some of the staff there personally. And as a hip-hop journalist I can’t divorce myself completely from what happened because in some way we all contributed to it. We collectively nodded our heads when Biggie rhymed about robbing pregnant women, when Eminem went through his multiple levels of depravity or when DMX showed us how dark and hot hell was in explicit detail. Cam’ron’s “Confessions” is one of my favorite songs from him and it’s one of the most macabre things you could put on record. And if I’m losing some of you young’ns I have two words for you: Odd Future.
I think what made Too Short‘s commentary especially jarring was that there was no beat behind it. Here he was sitting on camera with no posse, no DJ and no hype man, giving instructions on how to molest a child. It was indefensible and I felt betrayed. Not just as a father of a 3-year-old girl but as the writer he’d just told that we were going to see something new and different from him. He had given me some hope that hip-hop could mature gracefully. If someone who’d made a career off misogyny could say “this is played” then anything was possible. But it appeared in that video that it was business as usual.
So who is the real Too $hort? The affable but naughty wordsmith or the child predator in that interview? If only it was that simple. Personally, I feel a line was definitely crossed. No matter how sexually suggestive you want to get on record you don’t say what he said to or about kids. But for someone else the line is even higher. The b-word by itself is reprehensible, as is the N-Word. Even in an adult context half the songs played on the radio are offensive to a lot of listeners, bleeps and all. But we’ve collectively desensitized ourselves in our music and expression so much that the line has become more of a smudge.
A skidmark maybe…
Because, as the book says, everyone poops, and this sh*t has been going on for years. Are we finally ready to clean it up?