Go ahead and file Too Short’s Tiny Desk Concert as one of the most unexpected entries in NPR’s series, but the Oakland rapper totally owns it. Literally sitting on a makeshift desk made to look like an 808 drum machine and backed by a full band, he delivered a slew of classics new and old in a unique fashion.
The set opened with “The Ghetto” featuring backing R&B singer Maurice Smith humming the chorus. “Yo waddup? It’s ya boy Too Short in the house,” he said introducing the details of the set. “Yeah, we doin’ it like this: We’re gonna run through some Too Short classics. Basically, I’mma play you a Too Short song from the past five decades. The ’80s, the ’90s, the 2000s, the 2010s, and the 2020s. How many artist you know that got relevant records in five decades? That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Classic man, legendary, Too Short. Representin’ East Oakland, California. Biiiiitch, yea!”
That’s exactly what he and the band did, playing a jazzy R&B version of “Gettin It,” with a saxophone bellowing and silky keys guiding the track. Then a string-section sample paints the canvas for an expansive rock and roll version of “Blow The Whistle” that culminates with a guitar solo. The instrumental hook of “Big Subwoofer,” by the Mount Westmore rap supergroup of Too Short, E-40, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube, brought things to a close as Short said, “The new thang is Mount Westmore….We been doing this sh*t since the ’80s and we ain’t gonna stop any time soon! Short dawg in the house! Biiiiitch!”
Too Short has indeed been a prolific force in West Coast rap since the 80s and this performance flashes unprecedented range. Give the man his flowers. He’s earned them.
Watch Too Short’s NPR Tiny Desk Concert above.