Legendary Oakland rapper Too $hort was a special musical collaborator on last night's episode of Late Night With Jimmy Fallon, playing a string of his classic cuts with The Roots throughout the program.
Two and a half hours before show time, The Roots (Fallon's in-house band) could be heard rehearsing recognizable bits and pieces from $hort's most beloved and enduring anthems. The rapper arrived and briefly sat in with them, quickly exiting the room with confidence.
"I never practice before the show," he said while contemplating a Motown-themed cupcake in his dressing room. "I just go out and rock the party."
Once the studio audience was ushered in, $hort and the band treated them to a pre-show rendition of his 2006 song "Blow The Whistle," The Roots' tuba player anchoring the song with its bassline and frontman Black Thought adding a new verse that he'd later tell us was totally freestyled. Though they'd only rehearsed together for five minutes, they performed with the ease of longtime collaborators.
"You're really not that short!" Fallon remarked as the show began.
"I was 5'2" in high school and grew after that," $hort replied. "This [gesturing to his current height] has all happened since then."
"We'll be back with more on growth spurts from Too $hort," Fallon retorted, ushering in the commercial.
Backstage after the taping, $hort talked about many projects he's currently planning, including a book about Oakland, a house music album, and an artist development center in Southern California.
In The Roots' dressing room, a stunning yet unrecognizable Stevie Wonder song was playing loud. Guitarist "Captain" Kirk Douglas would later explain that it is an unreleased tune that Wonder wrote for Al Green.
"That's the kind of music we're around all the time," he told this incredulous writer, with visible appreciation.
Outside in the hall, Too $hort took a moment to take a photo with the show's other musical guest Icona Pop, the Swedish female duo behind the current top 10 hit "I Love It" before being whisked away into the New York night.