Too $hort has always been one for sharing epic tales, a testament to his storied career as a hip-hop legend. Not long ago, HipHopDX took a moment to chop it up with $hort and E40, and the former shared an interesting anecdote about his 1998′ collaboration with Jay-Z “A Week Ago.” As it happens, the Vol 2…Hard Knock Life track was actually written as a direct response to what $hort and Hov perceived to be a shifting attitude toward snitching.
Interviewer Trent Clark cites the album’s liner notes, in which Jay-Z explains that “we made this song because snitching was becoming too cool.” When asked about the climate in the rap game at the time, Too $hort shares some backstory about the last years of the golden era, with particular regards to the perception of snitching. “At that time, you would just probably relate it to what was happening directly around with you with certain friends and stuff and experiences that you were taking in immediately in the present, but in hindsight, it was a much bigger picture involved in there,” explains $hort.
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“When you look at it like, here’s a guy who got in the dope game, and he wanted to make some money, and he saw that it was a very lucrative opportunity,” he continues. “He started making a lot of money, but then when he gets busted, and they tell him, ‘You’re going to do 30 years unless you give us all this information, and then you can do 10 years,’ and you’re like, ‘What you want to know?’ And you just start singing.”
“I think that in the present, you go, ‘He’s weak,’ but in hindsight, I just don’t know because of all the political things that were going on around crack cocaine,” says $hort. “The crack epidemic, and the war on crime, and the war on drugs, and all the stuff that really was just a war on minorities. It was really just trying to find a way to reinvent slavery once again. After Jim Crow, after Civil Rights, and now it’s mass incarceration. It’s the same slavery all over again.”
Circling back to the song, which covers a fractured partnership between two industrious drug-dealers, Too $hort brings things back to the present. “When you just look at these situations, that’s like a time capsule,” he reflects. “That whole, ‘It was all good a week ago,’ like, ‘He was my best friend. We were getting money, and now you’re about to send me down the river,’ and it’s like, ‘Who was going to get it?’”
For more insight from Too $hort, including his thoughts on how snitching has been weaponized in gang warfare, check ou the full interview with HipHopDX below.