Photo by Jive Records
It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that the Bay Area hip-hop scene would not have come to prominence without the immense contributions of Todd “Too $hort” Shaw. As one of the “Godfathers” of West Coast hip-hop, the Oakland native blazed a path for rappers across California to follow in his footsteps. With an unwavering determination and style, “Short Dog” is a hip-hop pioneer and one the greatest personalities ever produced by the culture.
Too $hort’s launched his soon-to-be iconic rap career in the early 80s when hip hop was still regional and rooted in New York. After dropping several albums on 75 Girls Records, a small record label, Too $hort began to garner local fame early with his tales about pimps, players, and his sexual exploits, which placed a spotlight on the underworld of life in Oakland. A few years later, his independent success caught the attention of Jive Records and he went on to make his major label debut with Born to Mack in 1987, followed by classics such as Life Is... Too $hort (1988), Short Dog's in the House (1990), and more.
By 1993, Too $hort was a seasoned veteran in the rap game, consistently releasing gold and platinum albums, and was already considered a West Coast legend. While many of his peers had reached and left the zenith of the creative and commercial peaks, “Short Dog” was an anomaly as his success had spanned over a decade as he prepared to release Get in Where You Fit.
Released on October 26, 1993, and in the aftermath of L.A. Uprisings, the album was Too $hort’s eighth solo album and further solidified him as a force to reckon with on the rap landscape.
With an undeniable influence of Dr. Dre’s G-Funk, gangsta rap sound that was exploding at them, production of the LP was handled by Too $hort’s frequent collaborators The Dangerous Crew and QD III (the son of Quincy Jones).
They curated a tailor-made sonic backdrop for Too $Short to rap about his tales of the ghetto with raw, unadulterated honesty.
The album’s first single, “I’m a Player, '' is a laid-back jam saturated with the kind of East Bay funk where $hort dog could showcase his signature raunchy wit. As expected, Too $hort doesn’t veer from his familiar motif of rapping and songwriting about celebrating his sexual promiscuity. Still, the production is a bit more refined with live instrumentation. Produced by the Dangerous Crew and sampling "Hollywood Squares" by Bootsy Collins, “I’m a Player” sets the tone for the remainder of the album in a major way. Always one to boast about his expertise on getting to ladies he raps, “So if you ever see me rolling in my drop top Caddy / Throw a peace sign and say ‘Hey, pimp daddy!’ / ’Cause I never would front on my folks / I slow down and let the gold diggers count my spokes.” Without question,” I’m a Player” is Too $hort at his best.
The follow-up single, “Money in the Ghetto,” is the first song to sample "Hollywood Swinging" by Kool and the Gang. On the track, $hort shares some about not judging a book by its cover because although neighborhoods such as East Oakland have challenges, possibilities, and opportunities also exist. He raps, “And what about the brother with the good jobs/Savin' money and workin' hard?/Bought
a house for his wife and kids/Ya only got one life to live.” Even a self-proclaimed player like Too $Short can comment on the issues affecting Black folks.
Other standout tracks include "Just Another Day,” the lone track produced by QD III, "The Dangerous Crew," a Bay area posse cut featuring Spice 1, Ant Banks, Mhisani, and Pee Wee, and the funked-out, light-hearted banter of “Playboy $hort."
Too $hort invites a lot of his West Coats comrades to the party with guest appearances from Banks (who also played keyboards, drum programming, produced, and mixed the the album), Ant Diddley Dog, Father Dom, FM Blue, Rappin' Ron, and Ronese Levias. Each of their contributions adds significantly to the tenor of the project.
Upon its release, Get in Where You Fit In was immediately hailed as one of Too $hort’s seminal works. The LP peaked at number four on the Billboard 200, topped the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums chart, and was certified Platinum by the Recording Industry Association of America on November 16, 1994.
In Too $hort’s heralded canon of music, Get in Where You Fit In remains one of its crown jewels. It marked a transition for an MC who worked his way from the West Coast indie scene to gaining national recognition as a star. The album magnified his mystique and further cemented himself as a Bay Area icon whose longevity has been startling. While critiques of the album for its excessive misogyny and sexism are valid, love it or hate, Get in Where You Fit In proved that Too $hort’s impact could not be denied.
At 57 years old, Too $hort has shown no signs of slowing and is not considering retiring from the rap game. 30 years later, more than 15 “Short Dog” albums are still “getting in where he fits in.”
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