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Too Short Is Playing a Free Show Tuesday at the Lake

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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, Oakland. (Tim Mosenfelder/Getty Images)

Oakland’s Festival By the Lake may be gone, but its spirit continues in the many free mini-festivals held around the shores of Lake Merritt. And an annual favorite, Town Up Tuesday, has booked its biggest headliner yet for Tuesday, May 21: Too Short.

How will a rap legend who routinely plays large arenas adapt to a lakeshore gazebo? It remains to be seen, but it’s completely free, so expect a huge crowd. Also performing are Town favorites 1100Himself, the Conscious Daughters and the Trunk Boiz — a formidable lineup in its own right — but Too Short all but guarantees the biggest Town Up Tuesday yet.

Produced by the Oakland nonprofit Urban Peace Movement, Town Up Tuesday was conceived as a way to bring people together after the pandemic while simultaneously engaging young people with civic issues and upcoming elections.

“The main message is about getting involved and paying attention to local issues that impact the everyday lives of people in Oakland and the Bay Area,” says Urban Peace Movement’s Nicole Lee. “Obviously we have a consequential election coming up in November, and we want people to be informed, and to pay attention to that election, especially at the local level.”

Lee herself grew up going to Festival By the Lake, and says she wants to help reinvigorate pride in Oakland — especially as San Francisco’s so-called doom-loop narrative migrates across the Bay to the Town.


As it turns out, Too Short agreed to perform in part because he feels the same way.

“He’s expressed to some of our team that he’s felt disheartened by the narrative about Oakland,” says Lee, “and how there are negative perceptions about Oakland that sometimes overshadow all the culture, creativity, innovation and social activism that comes from Oakland, and has had national and global impact.”

Hosting Tuesday’s event are Mystic and DNas, and the rest of the lineup includes DJs Daghe & Emelle, plus Michael Sneed, 3Nise, the Animaniakz and Ms. Bria. (There’s two “surprise legendary artists” promised too.) There’s also double dutch sessions with Jump Squad 510, wellness services from Freedom Community Clinic, a kids’ area and more.

Town Up Tuesday is free, and takes place Tuesday, May 21, at the Edoff Memorial Bandstand on the northwestern shore of Lake Merritt. Details here.

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