I understand the outrage at rapper Too Short’s latest comments. But should we be so up in arms? Since dropping his first song, the rapper has consistently degraded and disrespected women in his music. But it wasn’t his lyrics that drew the ire of the media and the general public over 20 years ago when he first released his single “Freaky Tales”. Instead, we listened. We allowed it, we allowed him to flourish. We allowed his ascent, consuming his music whole, misogyny and all, authenticating his persona. He ushered in the first wave of misogynistic hip hop in the 1980s and we allowed it.
We created the monster.
So why do we get up in arms behind the statements he made in an interview?
I was 11 the first time Too Short offended me. I remember this moment vividly and it has always driven my distaste for his art. It was the summer of 1997 and his song “Call Me” featuring Lil’ Kim had become extremely popular. I was in a phase where I was recording my favorite songs (on cassette) and then writing the lyrics in a journal. And even then, as an 11 year old, the lyrics gave me pause. It was the first and last time I ever actively listened to a Too Short song.
- I was going to insert an inappropriate lyric or two here but I’ll settle for naming some of his songs: “2 Bitches”, “Hoes”, “16 Hoes”, “Call Her a Bitch”, “My Dick, My Sack”, “Pull Them Panties Down”, “The Bitch Sucks Dick” and “Don’t Fuck for Free” are just the tip of a very problematic iceberg.
That a man who made a living off of his sexual exploits (fictional though they may be) can fix his lips to say the things that Too Short said in the XXL interview should come as no surprise to us. He’s said those things before. But without the syncopated, head-nod worthy rhythms, his explicit and dangerous words offend. He crossed an imaginary line in the sand so we stand up and say, “no, no, no Too Short, you’ve gone too far”. When sexually explicit lyrics that border on sexual assault become sexually explicit statements made in interviews, we can’t take that.
When will we get to the point where this type of language is not okay ever? Let’s start with teaching our sons and daughters about inappropriate sexual behavior. I can only hope that I can teach my future kids as well as my parents taught me. I can only hope that my 11 year old understands that degrading music has no place in their lives. And once we stop consuming it, perhaps rappers like Too Short and publications such as XXL will stop producing content that dehumanizes, offends and/or objectifies women while perpetuating the idea that masculinity is tied to demeaning women.