Too $hort, aka Todd Shaw, epitomizes the nasty motherfucker, and the poet, in all rap acts. He knows how to talk big, cut a tight rhyme, bring heavy science, and boast his riches. In short, he speaks true facts.
Perhaps $hort's finest work is the catchy tune, You Nasty, the title track of his 2000 release. In this song, he recounts the time he took a straight-A, Catholic schoolgirl "to school" in the men's bathroom. He excuses the fact that he doesn't "love her" by quickly adding, "but I never hate her". Interesting here is the fact that $hort is betraying a soft side to one of his bitches. Rare indeed in contemporary rap society, where "front" is all the rage, $hort's feeling the need to justify his own moral world is a striking compromise of the norms of edgy-urban rap society. Later in the song, he even goes so far as to say that "a lot of women like to be called a bitch", a statement bearing with it blatantly apologetic undertones, and a conspicuous straying from the "in-your-face", "be-offended" spirit of his art. $hort wisely evades scrutiny, however, by chiming in with his uber-offensive chorus: "I already fucked you... YOU NASTY!"
Certainly, $hort isn't to be praised too far for his charitably self-reflective treatment of women. In the song 2 Bitches, $hort recounts an episode wherein he menage a troised FFM. Referring to the ladies alternately as hoes, tricks, tramps, sluts, freaks, and of course bitches, this ode is a celebration of his masculinity and dominance over 2 hoes, "neither (of whom) were (his)".
Blowjob Betty provides further evidence of Too $hort's being an amoral, gangsta's gangsta. In this ditty, he "bust a nut and killed a bitch". BJ Betty... well, you understand. Anyway, $hort and his "homies just hit the door" and left her lying there; later, he'd brag about the incident, seemingly without remorse.
It is the limits of Too $hort that are most interesting, however; that there are limits, that he does "care" about something. In his uncharacteristically emotional Little Girls, he is neither berating the bitch, nor "hitting it from the back", so to speak. Though he mentions the fact that bitch "wants to take a ride in his new car", he does not deride bitch as a money-grubber, as he once did another bitch in his unforgettable Fuck my Car. This time, he gives the lady a ride. Needless to say, one thing leads to another, and Too $hort attempts penetration, only to meet with resistance. She's only 15! What will Too $hort do? The resolution is shocking. Not only does he decline to "tax" the girl, but he backs off, "sad(dened)". She had told him she was 18! Would he hoe slap this bitch, and pimp her out for top dollar? Also, no. $hort tells the young lady that she's not ready for a sexual relationship just yet, and that, furthermore, having lied about her age, she had ought to "find a guy/Who will like you for yourself, not for all your lies". It seems that $hort has drawn a line. He calls her "baby" and "little girl", the first time I've ever seen him describe a member of the female gender in non-derogatory terms. Stunning.
The hidden Too $hort makes at least one more appearance, again in an address of youth, in his So You Want to Be a Gangsta, from his Shorty the Pimp album. The song is all about debunking the myth of the urban black outlaw-hero, and it is directed at a young audience.
All your homies tryin to tell you, that ain't cool
Playin shoot 'em up, like a fuckin fool
but you'se a gangster, one they can't destroy
Don't even give a fuck, about your boys
You go for self, you wanna be on top?
Fucked around and now your brother's shot
The most amazing thing to be understood about this song is that Too $hort is criticizing his audience for being his audience. He is saying that it's all wrong, and that it is not a choice one makes, and that there is nothing heroic about this lifestyle. Perhaps the explanation of Too $hort's soft spot for youth, of the sporadic, bizarre honesty we find in the man who made a catch phrase out of the words "I really don't give a fuck", can be traced to his own youth, lost as it were, on the mean streets of East Oakland.
Though Too $hort may have the best developed, most elastic cry of "Beeyotch!!" in the industry, he seems himself to suspect that his sexual exploits and love of cash and dope are not all there is to the world. In these occasional bouts of seriousness, one cannot help but be struck by the impression that $hort is lashing out violently at a tortuous cycle, which he at once perpetuates and loathes.