Too $hort

Interesting article from Bay Area legend Too $hort. He talks about volunteering at a youth center in Oakland and how future albums will be more positive for the younger generations. Props for that. link (via)

Somehow, I feel partially responsible for the state of mind these youngsters are in. I can’t 100% blame myself, Tupac, Master P, N.W.A., Scarface, any other rapper, or Hip Hop as a whole for the condition the streets are in now, but I know that if you look at the big picture, we all made thuggin’, gangbangin’, pimpin’ and being a hardcore rapper look like fun. A lot of people in my generation eventually found out, after the judges started handing out 20-30 year sentences, that we were set up. There used to be lots of career criminals who would be in and out of prison. They’d make a lot of money, lose it all, and then get it back again – but that was before privately owned prisons, “three strikes,” and all the Federal laws that were designed to lock drug dealers up forever.

I’ve been working at Youth Uprising in East Oakland for the past year and it’s not your average youth center. It’s located next door to Castlemont High School, one of the toughest schools in Oakland. The building looks new inside and outside. They have recording studios that kids use for free if they’re members (age 13-24). They also have modeling and dance classes, video editing, counseling and health care among many other things. My only purpose there is to pass down some knowledge and to be a positive role model. Imagine that! I don’t get paid one dime.

I’ve seen too many kids wearing “R.I.P.” t-shirts with pictures of other kids on ‘em. I’ve seen too many obituaries of kids who were born in the late 80s/early 90s. I don’t even know the majority of them but it hurts like I did. I just jumped on a plane in Oakland and on my way to the airport I saw about 15 cop cars racing to the scene of a crime and I assumed another youngster had been shot in broad daylight. Maybe not, but I decided to write this and let you all know that I’m going to focus on making positive songs instead of nasty sex songs. Some people might misinterpret that as “cleaning up my act,” or trying to be something I’m not, but I already have a history of making positive songs from the start. Check my track record. I’ve recorded and released several positive singles in my 25-year professional rap career – “The Ghetto,” “Life Is Too Short,” “Money In The Ghetto,” and “Gettin’ It,” just to name a few.

Starting in 2008, I’m gonna be on some other shit. I’m still gonna make party songs and I’m still gonna use explicit lyrics but after 20 years on Jive Records, I’m not gonna let my voice go to waste once I’m independent again. Our youngsters need guidance and every last one of ‘em LISTENS to rap music.