Too $hort 

Married to the Game

Guess who has more gold and platinum records than any rapper in the history of rap? Todd "Too $hort" Shaw, that's who. It takes a lot more than just repeated usage of the b-word to achieve that kind of longevity and success, especially considering how much the rap game has changed since $hort's freaky tales and dirty rhymes first came straight from Oakland some nineteen years ago.

But has $hort changed? Biiiiiiiiiitch, please. Updated and upgraded his image, maybe, but though he's sporting a natty blazer instead of a T-shirt and sneakers on his album cover, he's still the same old dog obsessed with chasing the cat, dropping enough choice game to make wanna-be macks take detailed notes, all the while making it seem a lot easier than it actually is.

What seems like his gazillionth album, Married to the Game, finds $hort in floss mode from his very first rhyme: I'm slamming Cadillac doors, white drop top with the brand new Vogues, laced Rolex, still spittin' the flows, how can I retire? Still pimpin' the hoes. His diction sounds undeniably crisp, suggesting his presence has been a major factor in the rise of the Dirty South, which coincided with his move to Atlanta in 1994. And while it might surprise some that the South is running shit in rap a decade later, it shouldn't shock anyone that $hort is in the thick of the action. He's versatile enough to go from the smoove R&B vibe of "Choosin'" (featuring Jagged Edge and Jazze Pha) to the raw crunktitude of "Shake that Monkey" (featuring Lil' Jon & the Eastside Boyz) without missing a beat. And on the album's best song, "Burn Rubber" -- a current radio staple even though it wasn't a single -- he and Lil' Jon bring the retro old-school flavor back, revisiting the same classic Mohawks break Mantronix sampled in the electro b-boy anthem "Fresh Is the Word." The message is clear: Why waste time with all these upstart pimp rappers when the original player can still put it down so fresh and so clean?

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