SAY MY NAME
Title: Get In Where You Fit In
Artist: Too $hort
Type: Studio Album
Genre: West coast hip-hop, G-funk
Length: 60 minutes
Producers: Ant Banks, Too $hort, QDIII, The Dangerous Crew
Peak chart performance: Number 1, U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums; number 4, US Billboard 200
1. “Don't Fight The Intro"
2. "I'm A Player"
3. “Just Another Day”
4. "Gotta Get Some Lovin'"
5. "Money In The Ghetto"
6. "Blowjob Betty"
7. All My Bitches Are Gone" (featuring Ant Banks)
8. "The Dangerous Crew" (featuring Spice 1, Ant Banks, Mhisani & Pee Wee)
9. "Get In Where You Fit In" (featuring Rappin' Ron & Ant Diddley Dog)
10. "Playboy $hort"
11. "Way Too Real" (featuring Father Dom & Ant Banks)
12. "It's All Good" (featuring Ronese Levias)
13. "Oakland Style" (featuring FM Blue)
One of the reasons why I love rap music so much is that it can elicit such a diverse range of emotions from the listener. It can make you sad, it can make you mad; it can make you pensive and it can make you reflective, it can inspire you, it can inform you, it can be music to ride to and music to fuck to, music to smoke joints to and down brews to. But what is most unique about it, and what I love about it the most; is that rap music can make you laugh till your sides hurt. This is where Too $hort enters the picture.
Can I ask you a question?
Can you get in where you fit in, biaaaaaaatch?”
So begins the fourth offering in an unprecedented run of six consecutive platinum albums by the legendary Oakland MC Too $hort. Get In Where You Fit In is the middle album in an insane hot streak of albums by an all-time-great, certified west coast hip-hop hall of famer; for that reason alone it can’t go missed by any fan of the old school rap. A veteran of the west coast and the man who put Oakland, California on the map, $hort’s career began in 1983, when, aged a precocious 17, he dropped the mixtape Don’t Stop Rappin’, selling tapes from the trunk of his car. From those humble beginnings, $hort first cracked the big time with his debut major label release and studio album, 1987’s Born to Mack. The record went gold and a star was born. Two years on, he released his second album, Life is… Too $hort, which took America by storm, going double platinum. Then followed 1990’s Short Dog’s in the House and 1992’s Shorty the Pimp, both platinum albums which cemented the Oakland rapper’s status as one of the very best in the rap game.
Too $hort’s style was very simple and yet devastatingly effective, combining a strong commitment to the tradition and origins of hip-hop music, with a willingness to experiment and push the genre forward. Throw in a satirical Blaxploitation persona on the mic, always talking about pimping, drug use, sexual antics, low riding; and it made an irresistible combination. $hort’s records followed the same basic pattern: endless rapping, verse after verse uninterrupted by a chorus or hook, usually featuring lewd, crude, and grotesquely misogynistic (but firmly tongue-in-cheek) lyrics; overlaid on booming, repetitive bass lines, and extensive sampling of funk hits from the ‘70s.
By the time 1990 rolled around, the commitment to tradition, most prominent in his ‘80s releases, had slowly begun to ease off. $hort recognised that the game was changing, and it was necessary to begin incorporating choruses and hooks as well as more sophisticated instrumentation. It was also necessary to be at the cutting edge of the development of the genre. Better shape it yourself, to your own liking, than follow the trends set by another! $hort felt the same, and begun experimenting with loops sampled from songs by Parliament Funkadelic in particular, but also other funk acts. That’s where Get In Where You Fit In comes in, it’s the funkiest sounding album he has made.
Oakland rap has always been very different to L.A. rap. Where Los Angeles rappers dream of superstardom and world domination, Oakland rappers are content with just putting out music to lowride to and roll joints to. It is music made for lazy Sunday afternoons just cruising the streets of the Oaktown to the beat, lit joint dangling from mouth, a fine hoe in the passenger seat eyeing you suggestively, and a cold brew resting in the drinks holder. This laid-back nature is best exemplified, and best defined, by Too $hort. And, given that this is established as the theme of the album and the direction it will pursue, anybody who has no interest in this sort of music can head off now.
From start to finish, Get In Where You Fit In is a tour de force of P-funk, G-funk, and the Oakland sound of Too $hort. Endless rapping (I cannot emphasise this enough: it is a looooong ass motherfucking album, with too many looooong as motherfucking songs) about the most raunchy topics, featuring some of the dirtiest, most X-Rated lines you will ever hear; it certainly is not one for the faint hearted nor for the uninitiated. The amazing production work of Ant Banks and friends might win over the odd casual fan, particularly if they enjoy funk music, but really, if you weren’t already a fan of Short Dog by this fourth platinum album, you were never going to be one anyway. The funk starts on Don’t Fight the Intro and continues I’m a Player; then QDIII produces one of the great G-funk riffs of all time in Just Another Day. The amazing talent of the crew of producers (led by the masterful Ant Banks) and $hort’s keen ear for a good funk beat to sample are in full flow throughout the album.
One of the standout tracks to my mind is Money in the Ghetto. Lyrically this is Too $hort at his best, and thematically, this is one of his rare socially conscious tracks, which are always worth a listen because when he actually gets serious for a minute $hort has some very interesting and valid points of social commentary to make:
“In the ghetto, you think life is hard
Food stamps and tore up cars,
Wall-to-wall dirty orange carpet,
Sittin’ in a bucket, hopin’ you can start it
And ride around to the liquor store
Can't get a job, get drunk some more
You betta stop trippin’ on dem stereotypes
Cause in the ghetto there's a good life”
And, of course, the funk is off the fucking charts on this track. The instrumental samples the MASSIVE 1974 funk hit, Hollywood Swinging, by Kool & The Gang.
Going back to my initial point of loving rap music because it can make me laugh, there’s nothing quite like this album for comic value. Whether it’s rapping ridiculously tall tales with a totally straight face on Blowjob Betty, or lamenting about lack of pussy in Gotta Get Some Lovin’, the lyrics on this album are so hilariously over the top that to call it Blaxploitation is probably unfair – it’s closer to a Wayan’s brothers parody of Blaxploitation. There is so much misogyny throughout that a fun drinking game would be to take a shot every time the word ‘biatch’, ‘bitch’, ‘hoe’, or equivalent sexist slur is heard; you’ll have drunk enough liquor for an aircraft carrier to be able to float in by the end of the album. And I mean, when something is done to such an ostentatious, over-the-top level, it’s dreadfully obvious that the person in question is having a laugh.
Now onto the bad parts of the album. In short, it’s just too long (see what I did there?) - the first six tracks bang hard and are certified hip-hop classics, even though they are also probably too long. The rest of the album is much weaker, though the excellent funk influenced beats still make it worth a listen, and $hort is still able to get in the odd line or two of pure mayhem. The features were pretty ordinary throughout, there’s a fairly atrocious diss track in the middle there directed at Dangerous Crew defector Pooh Man. It was a heavily experimental album, an attempt to fuse his own Oakland brand of P-funk with Los Angeles’ G-funk, although the shit sounds good, it’s not a happy marriage, it’s neither here nor there.
Overall this is an album which just about scrapes into classic tier, on the back of three things: 1) it went number 1 on the Billboard charts. 2) the first six tracks are strong. 3) the production and beats are very strong throughout the album.
With the caveat that you like Too $hort’s unique style, and that you are looking for some good music to cruise to, eyeing up the hot girls on the sidewalks in them short skirts; Get In Where You Fit In will make for a fun listen in its entirety at least the first couple of times. Even if you don’t want that kind of music, the funk samples and quality of production alone are so good that it’s worth checking out. There are a number of flaws in the album and it is by no means $hort’s magnum opus, however, given that the man sold six consecutive platinum records despite having virtually no radio play, no MTV profile, no music videos etc. you know that at his peak he was so good even his weaker shit blows most of the competition out of the water.
Recommended Tracks: Money in the Ghetto, Just Another Day, I'm A Player, Blowjob Betty, Gotta Get Some Lovin', Don't Fight the Intro