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Few artists can claim to have enjoyed the same level of longevity in the rap game as Too $hort, who has scored classic records in four consecutive decades. Born and raised in Los Angeles, California -- before moving to Oakland as a teen -- Too $hort became a pioneer in the Bay Area rap scene by pressing up his own cassettes and distributing them. After releasing four regionally successful albums, Too $hort hit the jackpot with his 1989 release Life Is... To Short. Considered the rapper's breakthrough album, _Life Is... Too Short_was a pivotal moment for hip hop and captured the genius of Todd Shaw with no filter. To commemorate the 30th anniversary of its release, REVOLT highlights seven reasons why Life Is... Too Short is a classic body of work.
1. It Was Too Short's First Major Label Album
While Too $hort's first four albums were released independently, due to the massive grassroots success they enjoyed, the enterprising rapper piqued the interest of the majors. This led to Too $hort inking a deal with Jive Records, making him the first established DIY artist on the west coast to gain the respect of major labels.
2. The Production
One aspect of the album that set it a part from his previous efforts was the evolution in its style of production. While albums like Don't Stop Rappin', Players, and Born to Mack largely used a LinnDrum drum machine; Short Dawg's fifth studio album saw the rapper incorporating live instrumentation into the mix. After teaming up with Ted Bohanon, Too Short upped the ante by teaming up with Randy Austin and Al Eaton. Too Short's sound would continue to evolve in the '90s. But, the backdrops on Life Is... Too $hort helped get the rap populous familiar with the grooves permeating out of The Bay.
3. The Title Track
Upon pressing play on Life Is... Too Short, the first song you hear is its title track. Chronicling his journey in the rap game and envisioning a life of leisure, Too $hort keeps the macking to a minimum on this outing. Instead, he delivers an upbeat motivational anthem. Produced by Randy Austin and Ted Bohanon -- and having live instrumentation courtesy of Al Eaton on the guitar -- the record samples "School Boy Crush" by Average White Band and was the first from Too $hort to receive considerable radio airplay.
4. It Included Rappin 4-Tay's Debut
Prior to making waves with the hit singles "Playaz Club" and "I'll Be Around," and appearing alongside 2Pac on the All Eyez On Me track "Only God Can Judge Me," Rappin 4-Tay got his big break with his appearance on Life Is... Too $hort. Fresh out of high school at the time of its recording, Rappin 4-Tay's performance on the album cut "Don't Fight The Feeling" helped ignite the Fillmore native's buzz. However, upon the album's release, a jail-stint would briefly halt Rappin 4-Tay's career with the prospect ultimately returning in 1991 with his aptly debut album, Rappin 4-Tay Is Back.
5. The Album Cover
Of all of Too $hort's album covers, Life Is... Too Short's is one that looms larger than the others. Created by Mark Wholey, the cover captures Short Dawg crouching over a gravestone of a deceased rapper dubbed "John 'Sucker M.C.' Doe." It's relatively tame in comparison to his more raunchy album artwork. However, three decades later, it remains one of the signature images associated with Too $hort and served as the first glimpse of the rapper for new fans on a national level.
6. It Helped Put Bay Area Rap On The Map
The Bay Area is considered fertile ground for hip hop in 2018. But, during the '80s, the region had yet to stamp itself as a destination for rap talent. This began to change due in large part to Too $hort's ability to give rap from the northern reaches of California credibility and a face to associate the style of music with. In the subsequent years following the album's release, additional voices from The Bay would gain traction including legendary acts like MC Hammer, Digital Underground, E-40, The Click, and the Luniz. These acts would solidify The Bay as a major market in the '80s. However, Life Is... Too $hort was a major catalyst in achieving that feat.
7. It's Too $hort's Bestselling Album
Too $hort's legendary run has spanned over three decades and in spite of recent retirement talks, he's shown few indications that he'll be ending anytime soon. But, with all of his accolades, hit singles, and classic collaborations over the years; his commercial peak came when many rappers currently dominating the charts weren't even born. Following its release in 1989, Life Is... Too $hort was one of the biggest rap releases of the decade. It would ultimately achieve double-platinum status. It would be Too $hort's only album to reach that plateau and remains his bestselling album album. Today, it's still the crown jewel.
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