Photo By Nicole A. Thomas
A record deal is a terrible thing to waste. Just ask Houston native Short Dawg. After signing with Def Jam under the Russell Simmons Music Group in 2005, Short hoped his rap lines would go kaboom! like land mines, but Uncle Russ tempered the diminutive MC's expectations by keeping his tracks enveloped in a musical black hole. Jermaine Dupri then drafted Short for his So So Def camp when he took the big job at Def Jam, but after years of waiting, not one album or single ever saw the light of day.
Undeterred, Short, who also goes by his alter-ego, Elvis Freshly, stayed on his grind and, after securing his liberation from the legendary label, signed to long-time friend Lil Wayne's Young Money imprint and dropped a mean 16 for "Pass the Dutch" on the We Are Young Money compilation LP. Now that Freshly's debut album has a release date in site, his unbridled enthusiasm has him making songs like it's a bodily function. At his Southern Flame Spitta, Vol. 3 mixtape release party hosted by SF2 in Houston, Complex caught up with Short to talk about his upcoming CD and how he plans to keep the Young Money hype machine buzzing while Weezy F. Baby is in the clink...
Interview By Maurice Bobb
Complex: How does it feel to finally be in a position to release music?
Short: It feels good. As an artist, that's what you look forward to. That's what everybody looks forward to when they sign a deal. So they can have release parties like this and show their parents they're on TV and stuff like that. I mean, it feels really good to know I'm actually working towards a release date.
Complex: Was it hard to get your release from Def Jam?
Short: No, not really. It was just a situation where I was stuck on Def Jam because it was the label I was originally signed to where I wasn't moving forward and I wasn't happy. So I called Russell and told him about the situation and how I felt about it and he agreed to let me go free, no strings attached.
Complex: What was the biggest disappointment about the whole Def Jam situation?
Short: I guess because it was Russell's label and I felt like he came back to the game and had something to prove and I wanted to be a part of that. I was still a part of history, but I wanted to be a part of that energy of Russell coming back. It would have been great to release an album out of that. So I guess my biggest disappointment was not coming out with an album.
Complex: How did the Young Money situation come about?
Short: Well me and Wayne been cool before the actually making of the songs that people know me from, "Me and My Drank." After we did the song, we got to kickin' it and he was like, "Yo, I want you to be a part of this thing I'm doing." And this was before Young Money was forming, before it was as big as it is now. But I was still tied up in my Def Jam situation. I kept telling him I was with it. But I had to get my business right first, so once I got that right, we got back together and hooked up and here I am with Young Money.
Complex: So what's with the Elvis Freshly moniker?
Short: And I do alternative music, too, like Maroon 5, Coldplay and Kings of Leon. And I needed an alter ego to do that so that just came to me. Fresh, that's me. It's just because everybody know me as Young Fresh. My music is just fresh. Everybody say it's a breath of fresh air because it's not like the normal Houston sound you would hear. I am from Houston and I use that same slang and I carry myself the same way as a Houstonian and I'm a Houston dude born and raised, but the music is a lil bit different due to the things I've seen and the things I've learned and put that into my music.
Complex: Can the Houston sound make a comeback?
Short: You gotta realize that the Houston sound never left. If you listen to the songs, everybody done screwed the sound in they music. RIP to DJ Screw. He gave the game something that's gonna stick around for a long time. A lot of people are slowing down their records and choppin' them up. They got that from here. So to be honest, it ain't never left. We just waiting on a couple more soldiers to keep it going.
Complex: So what do you have in the works?
Short: Right now we just shot the first video for "Come Down the Pole" featuring Mack Maine. It's the first video I've ever shot, even though I was on Def Jam all those years. So we got that going on and we're gonna pump the single and go from there. It's a building process.
Complex: What's the name of the album?
Short: I'm still playing with the topic, but I think I wanna call it On Short Notice, what you think about that?
Complex: I like it. How'd you come up with that title?
Short: I guess because my name is Short Dawg. I came here on short notice, but I'm here now.
Complex: What can we expect from the album?
Short: I got the whole Young Money roster on the album. I got Akon, Too Short, Pimp C, 8Ball & MJG, Ne-Yo. I got so many songs, man. I've been putting them together over the last four or five years. I'm just still putting it all together and choosing the songs.
Complex: When is it coming out?
Short: I hope towards the end of the year, the fall.
Short Dawg and Gudda Gudda. Photo By Nicole A. Thomas
Complex: What's the most important thing you've learned from Wayne since being on the label?
Short: I learned that hard work is everything. As long as you keep working, keep working and keep working, you will get where you wanna go. I don't care if you don't see results right then, they will come sooner or later. So keep working at whatever you do. And it don't even necessarily have to be in music. Anything you do, with hard work, it's gonna always pay off.
Complex: How are things different at Young Money compared to Def Jam?
Short: It's different because I'm actually around these people all the time. At Def Jam, I was like on my own going to the studio by myself. But here, you see Gudda Gudda just came through. We going to the studio right after we leave here. It's more than music; we're like a real family, too. Everybody got a genuine love for each other.
Complex: Wayne is on lock right now. How is that affecting how Young Money is moving in the interim?
Short: We still rollin'. Young Money is still moving. You seen the new Drake single, Over, is poppin', Nicki Minaj is poppin', Young Money is No. 1 on 106 & Park with the "Roger That" video, so ain't nothin' stopped. We just movin', waiting for the boy to come home. Free Weezy.
Complex: You think Young Money is going to be the new label movement like Roc-A-Fella or Bad Boy?
Short: Not to disrespect, but I think we're gonna be like something you've never seen before. We got 13 artists that are just talented. Ain't no telling what's about to happen with Young Money.