Everybody wants to be a player. Everybody in hiphop thinks they’re a player, talking about the girls and the cars and the money. While it’s been the American dream for many, we have Too $hort to thank for it in hiphop.
One of the most influential and iconic rappers out of the West, $horty played a big part in putting The Bay on the map and establishing a new image for rappers. Getting his start as early as the mid 80’s when he moved to Oakland, he brought a brand new, over the top sensibility to the game. Ice-T already laid the groundwork for gangster rap and shared some subject matter, but Too $hort fully developed his stage persona around pimping: Low riders, dope, and putting bitches in their place (his words, of course). Over the next few decades, he would become one of the biggest names in all of rap (with mega hits such as “Blow the Whistle” with Lil Jon) and his influence being felt in so many other’s work. His eighth studio album, Get In Where You Fit In, dropped in 1993 and was perhaps the greatest embodiment of this, making it a bonified West Coast classic.
You see I made up my mind when I was 17,
I ain’t with no marriage and a wedding ring
I’ll be a player for life, so where’s my wife?
Probably at rehab stuck on the pipe
Production on Get In Where You Fit In is some of the finest early G Funk out there. Largely handled by his collective The Dangerous Crew, there are lots of old-school G Funk which is slightly darker than you might hear from Los Angeles at the time. The synth samples are clear and fat, but a bit subdued by the percussion which gives it a less sunshiney sound; This isn’t barbeque music, it’s for your ride to the club. The cowbells and claps also add to the retro blaxploitation vibe which matches Too $hort’s lyrics. Beats like “Just Another Day” are cinematic and perfectly embody the image of a San Francisco / Oakland night in your Caddy. Others like “All My Bitches Are Gone” are simply menacing despite their bounce and show off $hort’s gangster side.
Something to note on this album is the song structure; Many tracks are five minutes or more of just bars, really embodying the old school sentiments. The hooks are simple and far between, with some records like “The Dangerous Crew” and title track being posse cuts (featuring Ant Banks and the legendary Spice 1) where the verses lead straight into each other. Some refrains and samples like a guitar solo break up the long tracks. Additionally, $hort often gets a slight filter on his voice (such as “I’m a Player”) where there’s a big echo. This adds to his larger than life persona and really brings command to the mic.
But I’m a dog and I dog my broads
Guerrilla pimpin, driving four door cars
Ain’t got no kids but them bitches love daddy
They had to share me or them bitches couldn’t have me
The most important aspect of Get In Where I Fit In, however, is Too $hort’s over the top personality. Getting the idea from just spitting and joking with his boy’s, he based his rap persona fully around being a player. Everybody wants to have girl’s chasing them, ride on fours, etc. and $hort took it to the extreme with his real pimp image; Just look at his fit on the cover art. Most of the album is pretty straight forward rapping: Shit talk, spitting game, and hood tales. He brings some really caricatured misogyny in the form of detailed sex bars and what he’ll do to a girl talking back. “Blowjob Betty” is the ultimate example, where he tells the story of a local chickenhead and all the nasty, degrading shit she gets into. At the same time, Too $hort brings a pimp’s wisdom to the table. On “Money in the Ghetto” he discusses the corrupt politics which keep black men down and how to make it out. So while $hort is certainly playing a fun, dirty character, you also know he keeps it real and has been through it.
Get In Where You Fit In, as well as Too $hort’s other early albums, deserve much more recognition for their quality and influence. Overall, he is just such a charismatic and important character in the hiphop mythos, bringing an entirely new subject matter to the game and putting The Bay on the map.