Monday, July 31, 2017

Robbed hit of the week 7/31/17 - Too $hort's "The Ghetto"...

"The Ghetto" - Too $hort
from the album Short Dog's In The House (1990)
Billboard Hot 100 peak: #42

This week's "robbed hit" comes from Too $hort, aka rapper Todd Shaw, who grew up in Los Angeles and Oakland, California. The "pimp" lifestyle influenced his initial independently-released EPs (extended play records), before becoming inspiration for his debut album Born To Mack, released when he was turning 21 years old in 1987. He continued the theme on his sophomore release, Life Is...Too Short, which became one of the 100 biggest-selling albums of 1989 and scored the hip-hop artist a hit single with the title track, which just missed the R&B top-40 at #43. However, Too $hort expanded his range greatly in time for his first record of the 1990's Short Dog's In The House. This is evident in the lead single, and one of the most crucial hip-hop tracks of the early 90's "The Ghetto". Built on a sample of the classic song from Donny Hathaway, the verses give a report on life in the poor, urban sections of the American cities with more sadness and desperation than anger, and without either the novelty of comic pop-rap numbers or the blind fury of the emerging gangsta rap scene, this slice of exposure to the problems being ignored by "white America" was laid bare in this single...

While "The Ghetto" became Too $hort's biggest "pop" solo success, the single stopped just short of the American top-40 in January of 1991. The record also climbed to #12 on Billboard's R&B chart (his highest rank there), and peaked at #3 on their Rap Singles list. Meanwhile, the Short Dog's In The House set went to #20 on the albums chart and sold over a million copies. A second single from the record, the more comical "Short But Funky", reached the R&B top-40 (#36) but missed the pop list altogether.

Too $hort continued to have success throughout the rest of the '90's, but more with record-buyers then R&B and pop radio. He had six more singles reach the pop chart, with one of them, 1993's "I'm A Player", getting him back to the top-40 on the R&B list at #39, while his collaboration with Lil' Kim, "Call Me", went to #30 in 1997. But none of his releases had the social drive of "The Ghetto", even leading into his last solo Hot 100 minor hit, "Shake That Monkey" (#84), in 2003. Three years later, the rapper was featured on R&B singer Kelis' single "Bossy", which finally got Too $hort into the pop top 40 at #16. Most recently, he appeared on the "west coast" version of Chris Brown's top ten hit "Loyal" in 2013 (#9). $hort is also readying a new album, The Pimp Tape, for an August release.

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