The Bay Area legend hopped on the Toyota Stage at the Loudermilk center to talk about growing up in Oakland and the +30 year rap career that sprouted from his up bringing.
Major media man Brandon Peters (also a Bay-area native) took the stage with Too $hort as the moderator of the discussion, throwing all kinds of questions at the industry veteran. From the drug game in Oakland, to a long buried rap-beef, to strippers in Atlanta, Too $hort kept it candor as he transitioned from topic to topic.
With three decades of rap under his belt, you’d think he had superstar aspirations since first being exposed to hip-hop culture, but it took a while for $hort to want the money and the fame. “I grew up in LA and moved to Oakland right after 9th grade. I never rapped in L.A., so all the hip-hop definitely came from Oakland,” he said. “It was all about the moment back in the day. We were just making some pocket change and trying to rock the crowd.”
At the start of his career, it was much less about making it big and more so about "let me go over to 96 Avenue and make 20 bucks real quick." Being around an environment that was so gang oriented was tough, but he managed to find his way out of the turmoil The Bay Area was known for. “When I got to Oakland there was an all out war going on. It was NOT the same life I was living in LA,” he mentioned. “Oakland was so colorful it was like watching a movie to me. It’s this little a*s city with all this pride!”
The rap game in Oakland is certainly more different now than ever before. Peter’s asked $hort if he felt today’s Oakland rap scene deserved more public recognition, but he thinks, “If you TRY to bring it to the surface, it’ll seem fake. The Bay isn't supposed to be bigger than it is. It’s gotta be the kinda music that isn’t on the radar. But if you’re hip, you’re checkin’ for the sound no matter where you’re from!"
Authenticity is one of Oakland’s biggest qualities, and it’s safe to say that Too $hort played a vital role in paving the way.