As someone who grew up on Too $hort’s early albums – from Born To Mack to Shorty The Pimp, you kind of always know what to expect from the Oaktown legend. Of course, this also makes the average attention span of a $hortdog fan last about five albums. By then, you’ve had your share. So for someone who hasn’t bought a record from Short in over ten years, this is somewhat of a familiar experience.
But the more things change, the more they stay the same, as is in the case of his latest effort, Blow The Whistle. With heavy pressure from today’s major labels, keeping your production in house is almost impossible, so gone are the trademark beats from longtime collaborator Ant Banks, instead traded for selections from Lil’ Jon, Jazze Pha, Will.I.Am, and other producers of the “now sound”.
The album begins with the unsurprising “Call Her A Bitch”, which is exactly what it sounds like it is, as $hort carries on the long-standing tradition of making “shit” and “bitch” rhyme, in an excessive introduction that lets listeners know he hasn’t changed his political stance (on hoes) over the years. He sounds rejuvenated however when teamed up with executive producer Lil’ Jon on “Blow The Whistle”, an excellent almost-Hyphy anthem where $hort brags “I heard 93 rappers say ‘bitch’ like me / two singers and ten comedians / and I’m still gonna yell it every time you see me then.” “Burn Rubber Part 2″ comes next, with a moving Lil’ Jon beat attached to it, yet $hort’s uninspiring hook leaves it feeling a bit flat – at least in comparison to the original version. The surprising “Keep Bouncing” finds $hort rhyming alongside Snoop Dogg and producer Will.I.Am over an unquestionably raw collection of drums and samples from A Tribe Called Quest and Black Eyed Peas. The Lil’ Jon produced “Money Maker” is an obvious club-banger, complete with the producer’s trademark keys, low base, and handclap snares, while Pimp C and Rick Ross help inspire some gratuitous ass-shaking.
The album seems pretty solid from the jump, but hits a ridiculous brick wall midway through, thanks to a series of Jazze Pha produced tracks. One right after another, this 5 song set of “Strip Down”, “Nothing Feels Better”, “Sophisticated”, “Playa”, and “16 Hoes” runs the album into the ground, each Jazze fizzled out with awfully crooned hooks, skating rink synth, and done-to-death “Ladies and Gentlemen!” mating calls. Listening to the first five seconds of each track in a row is a disturbing example of how disposable this shit is.
But things get back on track when Lil’ Jon steps back in the studio with $hort on the Dogg Pound featured “Sadity”. For the sake of argument it could be said that this track is interchangeable with any other Lil’ Jon beat, but Dogg Pound’s forgotten gangsta style and catchy hook help carry this song. The album’s best track, “I Want Your Girl” follows, produced by hyphy movement producer Droop-E, with show-stealing moments from E-40, Dollar Will, and Mr. F.A.B, not to mention that ridiculous beat. Unfortunately, the album’s last two tracks are duds - both produced by Jon – “It’s Time To Go” and “Shake It Baby”. The latter is Jon’s attempt at “crunk rock”, which is nothing more than a typical Lil’ Jon beat with some lame guitar stabs over it, while $hort struggles through the track. It’s certainly no “Let’s Go” (Trick Daddy & Lil Jon).
It’s nice to see a high profile producer like Lil’ Jon take on a project from a living legend like this, and with the Bay Area’s new resurgence thanks to the hyphy movement, $hort will probably drag in some new fans as well. It definitely has it’s moments - much more than some of his recent LP’s probably have had - but at the end of the day, this is just another Too $hort record.
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