Let’s be straight up about it – numbers mean nothing to Todd Shaw at this point in his career. Number of albums released? More than you can count on both hands. Number of albums sold? So many he could have retired years ago. Number of times he’s used the word “bitch” on wax? While “infinite” may not technically be accurate it damn sure feels right. If you’re a fan of Too $hort that phrase also applies to taking the shrinkwrap off a new release – it damn sure feels right. His loyal audience doesn’t care about the statistics any more than he does. The only numbers that really change are the year on the calendar and the number of zeroes at the end of his bank account. Before the year 2007 changes to the year 2008, $hort Dawg decided to surprise us with one more album. Curiously he chose to title it “Get Off the Stage” – something I don’t think any of us are prepared for him to do even after 20+ years of rapping. Here are a few choice words from the opening song of the same name:

“I’m tryin’ to do a show, I don’t even know
Most of these niggaz, I came with some hoes
Hell nah they don’t know me, askin is he with us?
Back in the day, groupies was always bitches
Just throw ’em off, cause you can’t warn ’em
Why you wanna be on stage with me? You ain’t performin
I don’t come to your job, tryin to flip yo’ burgers
I can handle this crowd, I don’t need your service
You wanna be my dancer, you must be trippin
If you ain’t got big titties, why you up here strippin?
You better take that shit back where you came from
Throw it up nigga, go ‘head, bang on me – just get off the stage!”

Too $hort doesn’t want to get off the stage – he wants everybody ELSEtaking up his valuable airspace to get ghost. Having been to many live shows in my time I’m always amused when somebody DOES get on the stage, because they are usually (and often VIOLENTLY) ejected from the performer’s immediate area. Most never even get close to the person they admire and on the off chance they do they’re going to be too high or drunk to remember it tomorrow. I offer you this advice on Too $hort’s behalf – it may be fun to watch your ass sail over the front row courtesy a 400 pound security guard named Bubba, but given the number of broken bones you’ll have later $hort Dawg said it best in song years ago: “It’s your life! Don’t be stupid.” Besides radio stations give away backstage passes for a reason – the artists get to meet you when they’re NOT performing, in a controlled environment, where if you’re being too obnoxious the pass can be revoked and their personal bodyguard will throw you the FUCK out. Other than that settle for an autograph if you can get one. Now that we’re done with that tangent let’s get back to the album, where I was pleased to see the track “This My One” included, a duet between $hort and E-40 that originally appeared on the “I Love the Bay” compilation:

$hort: “Things can’t stay the same
Somebody gotta break the chain
Put some big money back in the game
We havin big money and we at it a-gain
But can you handle it mayne
or would rather be grimy doin scandalous thangs?
You wanna ball, you can’t tell him he ain’t
Cause if the music don’t pay he gon’ sell ’em the ‘caine
All the crack babies are growin up now
They got ADD, throw it up and act wild
Extra hyper, she asked me if I like her
Slow down girl, you move faster than a Viper
You’re too freaky, you’re way too sleazy
You could make some money but you give it up easy
Can’t even get a coke dealer
You a broke bitch fuckin with a broke nigga!”

Unfortunately both the Droop-E beat and original chorus have been removed, leaving a Traxamillion track behind that’s so unimpressive you may wonder what the hype was about. Trust me and find the original version – it’s much better. Beats in general are a problem on this release. Gennessee’s “F.U.C.K. Y.O.U.” beat is a low rent rip-off of Lil Jon, down to the whistling melody throughout consisting of the fewest notes possible. Young L from The Pack doesn’t impress either on “Dum Ditty Dum” coming more electronic than The Neptunes with less bass or pop appeal than they do. At least Cooly C & Spec’s work on “Pull Them Panties Down” is vaguely reminiscent of the Biggie & Bone Thugs duet “Notorious Thugs” and has enough going for it to carry the raunchy rhymes:

“You made a lot of money since you hit the stage
Swingin’ on the pole so many different ways
Got hit with a butt cheek and smacked ya back
You’re a dancer but you shoulda been a acrobat
I don’t even know if it’s bald or bushy
I see them titties out girl but I ain’t saw no pussy
What we gotta do to see you get butt naked
and shake it, how much you tryin’ to make bitch?
You could do it easily, is this how you gon’ do me?
You’re teasin’ me, pulled ’em halfway down your booty
You need to let them panties meet them ankles
Show ’em you a bad bitch, fuck these stank hoes”

Other than the ambient and vaguely Indian track DJ Kizzy Rock laces for “It Ain’t Over” and the dirty funky Traxamillion horns for “Shittin’ On ‘Em” nearly all of these songs are underwhelming. At only ten tracks long “Get Off the Stage” can’t afford to have many songs miss the mark musically, and the fact this album does is more than a bit surprising. On a Too $hort album beats usually range from “pretty good” to “tighter than a virgin’s pussy.” This often supports a Too $hort rhyme structure that is very one-track minded and repetitive yet welcomed by his fans for its familiarity. There hasn’t been a Too $hort album worth skipping in a long time but unless you’re a hardcore fan “Get Off the Stage” may be the one to start with. For some odd reason I can hear the “Urban Assault Vehicle” remix of “Rollin'” in my head. That’s right – even whack-ass Fred Durst would listen to this album and tell Too $hort to “get some better beats and uhhh, get some better rhymes.”

Too $hort :: Get Off the Stage
5.5Overall Score