Review Summary: Too Short creates an influential album that's dope/ sort of like the occupation of selling coke. - Me, parodying how Too Short raps
In the mid to late 1980s, East Coast generally had control of rap. The Old School of hip hop seemed content with its simplistic raps being spit by the creators of the genre, and generally not anyone else. However, by 1988, an Oakland pimp decided to get into that rapping business, by the name of Too $hort. Too Short was, to be plain, the simple best of west. His rhymes were almost comically simple, but at the same time, it was all right, because the old school never demanded pure lyricism, just banging beats and lyrical stamina, and Too Short had both. However, just like all of his releases, Life Is… Too Short
just doesn’t work together as an album.
Sure, it’s nice and it’s completely old school, which helps Too Short’s cred throughout the album, but it’s completely dated. His rapping stamina for songs is impressive, there rarely any rappers who can rap on and on for a six minute average today, but that completely ignores the content, which is the main fault of this album. His flow, although mostly decent, sometimes purveys into the awful zone, when trying to fit bigger phrases and words other than telling the listener that he’s the rapper and he’s also a pimp. He sounds rather elementary nowadays, and though it’s fun to see how rap evolved from this, it’s easy to see it as evolution, not devolution, if we start from this point.
However, despite this datedness in rapping style and lyrics, Too Short still proves to be a decent songwriter as well. “City of Dope” is probably the best song on the album, instrumentally it’s purely funk with keyboard bass and simple but effective bluesy guitars, and Too Short actually spits some conscious rhymes about drugs. “Life Is… Too Short” is the best pop song of the album, hooking the listener with the bouncy funk keyboard bass and some of Too Short’s best lyricism of the album (“Life is to some people unbearable/Committin' suicide and that's terrible” is about meaningful as this album really gets). Other than those two major highlights, there’s some really minor highlights throughout the record, like the colossal DJ scratching beat of “Rhymes”, the ominous video-game-esqe keyboard loop and Too Short’s tale of a rumor being spread of “Ain’t Trippin”, and the whiny synths and celebratory tone of “Oakland”.
It’s clear to see, though, that hip hop made a large improvement over this album. Three of the four longest songs are clearly the worst of the album, with those songs being dragged out to the point of insanity. Particularly “Don’t Fight the Feeling”, the only song with guests, and both of them slaughter Too Short lyrically, but show off more of their annoying voices than necessary to be entertaining in any sense. “CussWords” is probably the albums worst song though, and other than one laughable forte into rapping being blown by Nancy Reagan, absolutely bores for over seven minutes, switching from pseudo-consciousness and being the best at rapping. This leads to a problem with the second half of the album. Although the one dimensional beats certainly don’t hit the listener as one dimensional in the album’s first half, but when the long songs come on, it’s clear that the beats are just cheap keyboard loops, and although the drums occasionally hit hard, most of these keyboard loops are just embarrassingly weak, mostly clear in the thuddingly deep keyboard horns and whiny synths.
However, despite the legion of faults that sort of sound like the super league attempting to save the world from the good of Life Is… Too Short
, a majority of the songs sound good, even with the album’s clear datedness intact. Too Short combines funky instrumentals and the simplest rapping that still manages to make sense, and creates an album that bares good, but is far from the classic it’s claimed. It’s still good, so it’s worth a listen.