‘Too Short Way’ Unveiled in Star-Studded Event in Oakland

Save ArticleSave Article

Failed to save article

Please try again

A woman with long hair smiles at a man in an A's starter jacket, holding a framed proclamation from the city
Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf (right) presents an official city proclamation to rapper Too $hort at Fremont High School in Oakland, Calif., on Dec. 10, 2022. The event formally renamed a portion of Foothill Boulevard to 'Too Short Way.' (Kristie Song/KQED)

Saturday’s unveiling of “Too $hort Way” brought together celebrities, community leaders, a marching band and Too $hort himself. But the real star of the event was the city of Oakland.

At 3 p.m. inside Fremont High School’s gymnasium, as the Pittsburg High School marching band performed a lively version of “Life Is Too Short,” the crowd erupted in cheers as hip hop artists Sway Calloway, Ice Cube, Mistah F.A.B. and Too $hort stepped to the stage.

A marching band, dressed in black Too Short shirts, fills a gymnasium with a large Tiger mural in the background
The Pittsburg High School marching band performs a medley of Too $hort hits to commemorate the unveiling of 'Too $hort Way' at Fremont High School on Dec. 10, 2022. (Kristie Song/KQED)

One by one, each paid tribute to Too $hort. Sway remembered being “a kid” when he first saw Too $hort, in the back of a bus, playing his own music from a boombox. He said he was startled — he hadn’t yet witnessed someone producing and selling their own songs like $hort did.

When Ice Cube first met Too $hort in 1988, they were both opening acts for bigger artists, not headliners. (“Yes! I was there!” a crowd goer shouted, laughing.)

“He's always giving. He's always trying to show you how to do something, telling you about something, giving you some game,” Ice Cube continued. “So, we gonna love Too $hort. Give respect to Too $hort because he put Oakland on the map.”

Two men dressed in black stand on stage, smiling
Ice Cube and Mistah FAB on stage at Fremont High School to commemorate the unveiling of 'Too $hort Way' on Dec. 10, 2022. (Kristie Song/KQED)

The artists were joined by Oakland mayor Libby Schaaf and councilmember Noel Gallo, who both cited the rapper’s legacy and cultural importance while presenting their official proclamation.

Sponsored

Finally, Too $hort stepped to the microphone.

“First and foremost,” he began, smiling and nonchalant, “y’all are celebrating Too $hort, but I’m celebrating Oakland.”

A man in an A's starter jacket addresses a crowd, with a green background wall
Too $hort addresses the crowd. (Kristie Song/KQED)

$hort talked about moving to East Oakland as a young teen, and how the city itself nourished his dreams of becoming a rapper. He’d often walk around the streets, he said, radio in hand, listening to East Coast MCs lyrically explore life in New York. He decided he wanted to do the same — but for the new home he’d grown to love.

“This [street renaming] is needed. Not for me to get a pat on my back, not for me to get good things said about me,” said $hort. “This is about walking down the street, dreaming. That long walk down High Street, I was dreaming.”

Afterward, the crowd — including Soul Beat's Chuck Johnson, EMPIRE's Ghazi Shami, and neighborhood legends like Frank the Bank — followed the rapper outside, flocking around the new street sign. Freshly installed, “Too $hort Way” stood against an overcast sky, wet from the constant rain.

Umbrellas are hoisted below a street sign reading 'Too $hort Way'
People gather at the unveiling of Too $hort Way on Dec. 10, 2022. (Kristie Song/KQED)

Another huddle formed around Too $hort as he looked up toward the sign, dressed in a starter jacket with the city's name on its back.

“This moment is not mine,” he reiterated. “This moment is Oakland, California.”