Many people know Shorty B as Too Short’s bass player on numerous songs throughout the 90’s such as “I’m A Player,” “I Want To Be Free (That’s The Truth),” “Buy You Some,” and “Paystyle.” But Shorty B has produced on more gold and platinum records than most producers could ever dream of. He has a vast track record that boasts gold albums from artists as different as Spice 1, Brandy, and Bone Thugs-N-Harmony to platinum records by T.I, Nelly and TLC. With over 85 million records sold to his credit, the legendary Shorty B continues to work with some of the hottest artists and producers in the industry like Snoop Dogg, Outkast, Nelly, 2Pac, Shawty Lo, the Ying Yang Twins, Organized Noise, Jazze Pha, and Lil’ Jon. In this article, Shorty B tells his story to Ballerstatus.
Although he is most notably known for his work with Too Short and the Dangerous Crew, most hip-hop heads don’t know he was a part of the early 80’s Go-Go scene. “I used to play in a group called Hot/Cold Sweat, and another group called Heavy Connection. Go-Go first started with groups like EU, Rare Essence, Chuck Brown, and all those Go-Go groups that really never made it nationally, but they would be in the local area. Everybody was basically trying’ to come up any way they could.”
Before long, he had parlayed that into becoming a band member for George Clinton’s Parliament Funkadelic band. “I had been off and on messing’ with George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelic band with guys like Michael Hampton and Eddie Hazel. Michael Hampton and I are best friends. Eddie Hazel was one of the first guitar players for Funkadelic, and we used to go fishing, then come home and jam for hours, then go fish some more. We were staying’ in D.C. at the time, so eventually I ended up doing’ a few gigs for Funkadelic here and there in different cities.”
After running with the legendary Parliament Funkadelic for years, Shorty B eventually made his way out to Oakland, California. Landing a gig working at a well-known Guitar Center in the area, Shorty B was fast meeting a who’s who of the bay area music scene from MC Hammer and Toni, Tone, Tony to an eventual encounter with Shock G of Digital Underground, who he made a lasting impression on after intro-ing him to one of his idols.
“As it turned out, I ended up connecting with Shock G of Digital Underground out there. He always wanted to meet George Clinton, and I told him I was one of the band members. George and them was doing a show up in San Francisco that weekend, so I told Shock to come with me and I would introduce him to George. And I did just that. To this day, Shock G and George Clinton are pretty good friends.”
A friendship was formed between Shock and Shorty B as well, and it’s here, that Shorty B wrote and produced his first rap song called “Tales Of The Funky” off the gold-selling Sons of the P album. “I did the beat and wrote the rap for me and Humpty Hump on that song. It was kind of weird because I was the newest member of the group. They had Shock G in there, Tupac, Money B, Pee-Wee and all of them cats. There was so many people trying to get in the position of being a writer or a producer in the group. But all the sudden, Shock just let me produce and put my song on the album. It kind of tripped everybody out, but they didn’t hate on me or nothing; they were just like ‘Damn. This n**** come out of nowhere and just did it.'”
Not only was Shorty B producing for Digital Underground, but he had made so many connections throughout the bay area that he was soon doing production for people like Ant Banks, Spice 1, Pooh-Man, MC Ant, Dangerous Dame and countless others. While making serious noise in Oakland, it wasn’t long before Shorty B had hooked up with Too Short. “Too Short was so impressed, and I had just met him. He liked the Funkadelic so much that he couldn’t believe he had actually met one. So I had taken him back to my house, and played every instrument in there — the drums, the keyboards, guitar, and bass — and just killed it.” Work soon began on the Shorty The Pimp album, but not far into it Shorty B had caught a case and went to jail for six months. But to Shorty B’s surprise, “Short stopped the album. He didn’t do no recording or nothing’ until I got out. I couldn’t believe it. But as soon as I got out, we went back in and finished up the album; the rest is pretty much history. I just kept making records and doing my thing. I’ve been multi-platinum ever since.”
And multi-platinum he has been. Producing on 11 albums that went gold or platinum in the 90s — including Short’s Shorty The Pimp, Cocktails, Get In Where You Fit In, and Spice 1’s Amerikkka’s Nightmare, as well as the “Juice” and “Menace II Society” soundtracks. Shorty B was one of the few to work with both Death Row Records and Bad Boy Records during the famous East Coast vs. West Coast wars. “We had a studio out here in Atlanta, and Biggie came through one day. We all sit down and smoked a little weed together and sh**. After a little while, Short say he going to the studio because he wanted me to let Biggie hear some beats. We went in the studio and I let Biggie hear some beats. Then Lil Kim showed up at the studio. So I played this beat and she absolutely fell in love with it. It ended up on the ‘Booty Call’ Soundtrack as ‘Call Me’.”
With all the work he’s put in, why isn’t Shorty B as rich and famous as a producer like Timbaland, Dr. Dre or Kanye West? The answer is simple — being stuck in a lackluster contract and the IRS. “I was stuck in a deal with Zomba for 16 years, and they did not want to let me go because I was making hits. They dropped everybody else from the same contract I got, except me. In 2004 Zomba had sent me a check for a large sum of money. But they sent a W-9 to the IRS that had a misprint on it for a much larger figure. The IRS goes crazy, and they come take several large stacks out of my bank account. In one day. Who can afford to lose money like that in one day? I’m still recovering from that.”
Despite the setback, Shorty B has kept his platinum touch intact into the new millennium. He’s since produced on gold and platinum albums like TLC’s CrazySexCool and 3D, T.I.’s Urban Legend and King, Nelly’s Sweat/Suit, and Bone Thug’s Thug World Order, among others. He’s enlisted new management and has big plans for the future. “Right now I’m just trying to catch me a hit. I’m in the studio now with D4L, Ying Yang Twins; and I’m in the studio every day with Rico Wade of Organized Noize working on the new Outkast album. I’m active and everybody’s f***ing with me. I just need to get some money behind me, so we can go out here and get this paper. Just get in a top notch studio for a few months and come out with about four or five albums.”
Although some have their run, then disappear, Shorty has been able to stay in a position where he’s just inches away from grabbing the acclaim. With a newfound determination to make it big and talent to back it, he’s not riding until the wheels fall off. “I’m in this for life. I still got the talent, the crazy tracks and songs.”