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Too $hort Paved the Way for Oakland Hip-Hop — and Now He's Getting His Own Street

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a Black man raps into a microphone on a stage with the words 'Too $hort' behind him in blue lights
Too Short performs during the '25th Anniversary of Doggystyle' tour at ORACLE Arena in Oakland. (Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

It’s been a big few weeks for Too $hort. The prolific rapper — real name Todd Anthony Shaw — helped put West Coast hip-hop on the map in the 1980s with his slow, funky and braggadocious raps about life on the Oakland streets. And now he’s getting a street of his own: On Dec. 6, Oakland City Council members voted in favor of a resolution [PDF] to rename Foothill Blvd. between High Street and 47th Avenue “Too $hort Way.” The stretch of road sits alongside Fremont High School, which the rapper attended as a teenager while beginning to produce music.

The resolution cites the far-reaching impact of Too $hort’s nearly 40-year career, which includes six platinum albums, numerous collaborations with fellow hip-hop legends and a continuing dedication to his craft. Importantly, Too $hort doesn’t shy away from his roots — he makes it loud and clear where he’s from, often name-checking and embodying the spirit of Oakland in his lyrics.

“His career blazed a path that opened the door for Bay Area artists to pursue their dreams,” reads the resolution, which was introduced by Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf and councilmember Noel Gallo. “It’s important that Oakland give him his flowers now, while he is here and can appreciate the ‘thank you’ from his hometown.” (This love affair between Too $hort and city officials, Bay Area hip-hop heads will note, would have been all but unimaginable when the MC was coming up 30 years ago, as local government responded to a rise in violence by cracking down on rap shows.)

The hip-hop veteran also appears to be headed for the big screen: Too $hort is set to executive-produce the upcoming film Freaky Tales, named after his 1987 song. Set in that year, the film will feature stories inspired by director Ryan Fleck’s upbringing in the East Bay. The project, which has actors Pedro Pascal and Ben Mendelsohn attached, gained attention on Twitter in mid-November, when residents began to notice crew filming in downtown Oakland.

Dec. 9 will see the release of the new record Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort from Too $hort’s West Coast rap supergroup Mount Westmore. And on Dec. 10, fellow Oakland rapper and collaborator Mistah F.A.B. hosts a celebratory night for Too $hort at his club Dezi’s, playing Too $hort’s hits all night. “Let’s celebrate the icon and living legend,” said Mistah F.A.B. in a recent Instagram post. Tickets start at $30; more info here.

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