OAKLAND — Among the many intimate encounters detailed by Too $hort on the iconic late-1980s hip hop track “Freaky Tales” is a raunchy escapade that took place in the back of the “Foothill bus, #43.”
Before it was discontinued, the bus line would bring the rapper to Fremont High School down Foothill Boulevard, where soon a three-block stretch could be named Too $hort Way in honor of the legendary Oakland artist.
The commemorative street renaming is up for consideration Dec. 6 by the Oakland City Council at the request of Mayor Libby Schaaf and Councilman Noel Gallo, as well as friends and admirers of the 5′ 7″ rapper, who is known around the region as the “Godfather of the Bay.”
If approved, Too $hort Way will span Foothill from 47th Avenue to High Street, running alongside the Fremont High campus, a community swimming pool, a taco truck and several street-art murals, including one of another Bay Area rap pioneer, the late Mac Dre. The commemorative street signs would be installed directly beneath the current signs on Foothill Boulevard.
It’s a fitting tribute to Too $hort, born Todd Anthony Shaw, who moved from Los Angeles to Oakland as a teenager and first grew his name recognition by selling cassettes on the streets of East Oakland, promising anyone who bought one to shout them out on his next mixtape.
“The buses would serve as a talent show,” said Terry Butler (artist name: TerryT Mr.Community), a contemporary of Too $hort’s in the Oakland rap scene and fellow Fremont High student.
“We would utilize the Foothill bus line as kind of like what Broadway is for musicals — that was our ‘hood Broadway,’ ” Butler said.
Not long after, Too $hort began pumping out studio albums, eventually striking it big with Born to Mack in 1987 — where his “Freaky Tales” was immortalized, and Life is… Too $hort the following year. The two albums were certified gold and twice-platinum, respectively.
Along the way, he has frequently championed Oakland in his lyrics and music videos, even as he moved to Atlanta in the mid-1990s to blend his smutty lyrics and laidback delivery with the production ethos of Southern rap.
“There’s an understanding that we should recognize him, based not only on his talent and contributions but also just honoring and respecting those who have come before us and given back to the city,” said Gallo, who first introduced the legislation along with Schaaf.
Lifelong East Oakland resident Vernon Walker, 60, was surprised to learn the street he was crossing Tuesday is likely to be renamed for an artist whose career rise he observed from afar.
A fan of soul and R&B music, Walker never quite took to Too $hort’s sound. But he appreciates the significance of a Black man from East Oakland around his age — the rapper turned 56 in April — being celebrated by the town he represents.
“The city ain’t always do what it’s supposed to do,” Walker said. “They get brothers to go to prison and hassle them when they come out. … Too $hort’s one of the chosen few.”
Fremont High 10th-grader Christopher Quirino said he was not very familiar with Too $hort, though he has heard “Blow the Whistle,” a single from the 2006 album of the same name, whose memorable bassline still gets a spirited reception among Oakland clubgoers.
“It’s pretty cool honoring someone who influenced every hip-hop artist in Oakland,” Quirino said.
In recent years, Too $hort has tried to redirect that influence toward positive messaging, saying he would rely less on a misogynistic term that he often described in songs as his “favorite word.” He couldn’t be reached for an interview.
“He wanted an entry point back into his community,” said Butler, who now does community work and connected the rapper with Youth UpRising, a social services organization in East Oakland.
Grassroots outreach has always been the nature of Too $hort’s hustle: Before finding commercial success, he was a regular on a talent show broadcast on the Oakland Unified School District’s in-house TV station.
“He was a youngster, coming by and performing to try and get his name out,” said Gallo, who operated the station in the 1980s.
But even business owners on Foothill who have never heard of the rapper are hopeful that renaming the street after him could draw more foot traffic and customers.
Nick Patel, owner of the Exxon gas station across the street from the high school, is one of them.
“If they change the name and it attracts more people, then that’s good for my business,” he said.
Denial of responsibility! Bulletin Reporter is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected] bulletinreporter.com . The content will be deleted within 24 hours.