Exclusive: Bay Area Rapper Too Short Stands By Dave Chappelle Amid Netflix Controversy

Dave Chappelle in “The Closer”. Photo credit: Mathieu Bitton / Netflix

During a sold-out show at the Chase Center in San Francisco that kicked off Dave Chappelle’s limited tour for his new documentary, “Untitled,” thousands of fans showed up to support the controversial comic in the aftermath of the backlash. from his Netflix special “The Closer”. “

Those fans also included the musical royalty of the Bay Area, from singers Raphael Saadiq and Goapele to rappers E-40 and Too Short, who took to the stage with Chappelle on Thursday, November 4, as special guests for a post-screening concert.

In an exclusive behind-the-scenes interview with Too Short after the four-hour show – which also included an appearance by Atlanta rapper Lil Jon, whom Chappelle portrayed in his comedy series “Chappelle’s Show” – the rapper from Oakland told The Chronicle, “I” have studied comedy by Dave Chappelle. … This is not the case with something so dangerous, something so heinous that it must be silenced. This is not the case. “

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Too Short performs on “Verzuz”, the webcast series created by producers Timbaland and Swizz Beatz. The series was introduced during the COVID-19 pandemic as a virtual DJ battle on Instagram Live in March 2020. Photo: Verzuz

As a hip-hop pioneer whose favorite word is “biatch” and a discography of songs that include what some consider to be misogynistic, racist and violent lyrics and themes, Too Short sees parallels with Chappelle’s work.

“You can’t just be mean. I can’t be the Too Short character and be mean, ”he said, explaining that he and Chappelle’s words are not interpreted with meanness. “It must be kind of a pun, kind of a punchline. I have to be very specific in not pointing fingers at an individual when I’m rude in the song.

“It’s as easy as me saying ‘All these bitches aren’t s—’ and you’re like ‘Oh, he’s talking about me? F … him. Or saying, “Those bitches over there aren’t…” and now you sing along with me saying, “Those bitches over there aren’t…”. This is strategic so that you don’t get angry because you are the listener. We are in the same team, ”he continued. “It just works if we divert it elsewhere, and that’s how I write it. So listen to Too Short songs again. It makes laugh. “

Too Short specifically referred to his 1986 song “Blowjob Betty”, about a woman who chokes and dies during oral sex, and his 1990 hit “The Ghetto” which is about the difficulties of growing up in a tough neighborhood comparing how he and Chappelle have a balance of offensive and inspiring material. “If you just listen to the hottest song and the positive songs, you get a balance of who I am,” he said.

But the rapper, who plans to celebrate 35 years in the music industry by launching a new midway SF concert series on Thursday, November 11, acknowledged that this era of cancellation culture has changed the way music is played. and comedy are received.

“I just think everyone’s opinion is so instantaneous on social media. … They’re like, ‘Oh my God, look what I just got on my camera. Look what I just heard, ”posting without trying to understand the larger context, said Too Short.

Too Short performs at the Fox Theater in Oakland. Photo: Under Armor 2019

And that’s why Too Short has said he stands behind his longtime friend during his controversial times.

He’s seen Chappelle’s six specials on Netflix, and recently watched “The Closer” on his own, early one morning recently because, he said, “I tried to study just to find where it would upset. the LBGTQ world. “

“I tried to find him because it seemed to me that in the last stage he was literally saying to this community, ‘I’m – with you like that. He said it clearly: “I’m not against you,” Too Short said.

The rapper added that he really felt that Chappelle’s statements had been distorted by his detractors.

“I can’t put myself in the place of someone who feels like I’m laughing at them or disrespecting them,” Too Short said, “but from my perspective I found that his explanations were clear as a bell. He declares loud and clear that “I do not disrespect you. I f— with you all.

The sentiment is not shared by much of the transgender community and their allies, who fear that the popularity of Chappelle and “The Closer” will inspire violence against trans people.

“How can you try to say that it doesn’t help foster a climate of violence when dozens of people have been murdered in potentially anti-transgender murders this year?” Asked Gwen Smith, co-founder of this month’s Transgender Day of Remembrance, commemorating those killed due to transphobia, in a recent interview with The Chronicle.

Dave Chappelle stars in “The Closer”. Photo credit: Mathieu Bitton / Netflix

But as “Roastmaster General” Jeff Ross put it at the start of Thursday night’s event, “you have to take a joke in this world,” and Too Short fears this is what gets lost in the media frenzy. social networks around Chappelle.

“As a fan of comedians before canceling culture, when a comedian could stand on stage and disrespect the crowd in the name of the funny, and disrespect the f – things of life in the name of the funny … I just found it funny, ”Too Short said of“ The Closer ”.

“The actors are supposed to embarrass us. They are supposed to shed light on our shortcomings.

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