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Too $hort apologizes for XXL video, says, 'My eyes are opening'

February 27, 2012 |  7:00 am

Earlier this month a controversial video was posted on the website XXL, with rapper Too $hort offering "advice" to young boys. The video was quickly taken down, but not before it ignited a furor in the hip-hop world, spurring several bloggers to fume about how Too $hort's video essentially recommended that boys sexually harass girls
Earlier this month a controversial video was posted on the website XXL, which promises to cover "hip-hop on a higher level," with rapper Too $hort offering "advice" to young boys.

In the video, which was posted as "Fatherly Advice," Too $hort, a.k.a. Todd Anthony Shaw, recommends that when boys "get to late middle school, early high school" and they "start feeling a certain way about girls," they should skip the kisses and get straight into riskier action -- whether or not either party is ready. In attempting to touch a girl "down there," he tells them do things like "push her against a wall" and, if the mission can be accomplished, he should "watch what happens," implying she'll be in a state of ecstacy.

There's no mention, however, as to whether the woman is consenting to this treatment.

The video was quickly taken down, but not before it ignited a furor in the hip-hop world, spurring several bloggers to fume about how Too $hort's video essentially recommended that boys sexually harass girls, thereby traumatizing young women. Bloggers also pointed out that he's putting young men at risk by opening them up to possible assault charges if their sexual advances are unwanted. All around, not the "fatherly advice" Too $hort promised.

Though XXL editor in chief Vanessa Satten and Shaw issued public apologies for the video (and XXL employees who made the video have been suspended), controversy continued to roil. An activist group called We Are the 44%, "a coalition of outraged Black and Latina activists, artists, and writers," quickly formed and demanded that Shaw do more than blame the video's tone on the overindulgence of his pimpin' rapper persona.

Shaw was arrested for battery in 2010 after an altercation with club guards who wouldn't let him bring underage females backstage to his dressing room. He's long traded in sexually explicit raps, the kind that quickly reveal that he might not be so enlightened about gender politics of any kind. But in a confrontational conversation between Shaw and writer Dream Hampton, one of the 44% members -- posted Friday on Ebony magazine's website -- he gives several indicators that he's rethinking his messages.

"I was in the sixth or seventh grade when I started doing some of the things I was talking about doing in [the video]," Shaw said, "but now I'm understanding that it's actually ... a form of sexual assault. And it's crazy that I'm just now understanding this.

"My eyes are opening just from reading the comments, the stuff that is coming from people. They say stuff like, 'Does he get it?' I'm reading it and I am starting to get it."

"Even as an adult," Shaw said, "I had never realized until this thing came up that legally and more importantly, morally, it just [is] not been right."

He's also candid about some of his motivation for crafting notoriously raunchy rhymes. "As kids you play little innocent games that are sexual in nature, we used to play house and stuff and not want to get caught. As a grown man it probably affected the music I wrote. I probably could have been a little more aware of what I was doing, and wrote it a little differently. I was not doing anything [offensive] on purpose, it was for the money."

His last sentiment isn't exactly a shocker, but at the end of their lengthy dialogue, Shaw promises to reverse some of the psychic damage. "I feel like I am going to kick in and kick back a lot positive energy in something that I have been kicking out a lot of negative energy in a lot of years."

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-- Margaret Wappler

Photo: Too $hort. Credit: RCA

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