Short Cuts: 10 of Hip-Hop’s Greatest Songs Under 3 Minutes Long


Considering today, December 21, is the shortest day of the year, it’s the perfect time for us recognize some of Hip-Hop’s most timeless songs that don’t take a lot of time to listen to.

All clocking in at under three minutes, these records hold their own alongside ones with standard running times, and those which are long epics. We’re not even sure why they’re so short, since some of them are definitely worth a long ear!

There are a lot of great songs less than 180 seconds long, but here’s’s list of 10 great songs that can all be listened to in the time it takes for a pizza to be delivered:

10). “Wake Up” (2006) by Obie Trice: Lyrically, Obie seemed to mature from his debut album, and that is very evident on this track. He speaks against having a ‘hood mentality and encourages people to not buy into the negative things that rap sometimes glorifies.

Jay Rock9). “Code Red” (2011) by Jay Rock: Jay Rock’s street credibility is presented in full-force here. Over keys and with a deep delivery, the Black Hippy member states his gang ties and makes no apologies for it:  “But my demeanor will never switch, cherry red beamer/ G######### the f*ck out, red rag around the nina/ No doubt, I’m living it/ Been claiming the set since the year they found Snoop innocent.

8). “Gimme Some More” (1998) by Busta Rhymes: This song is the epitome of classic Busta Rhymes. It has his rapid-fire flow (which works well for a short cut), a unique sample, and an over-the-top music video, and is simply more proof that Busta is a true original. There was never anyone like him before, and there hasn’t been anyone like him since.

7). “I’m Dead” (1991) by Scarface: Some people may wonder why this is here instead of Biggie’s “Suicidal Thoughts”, since both songs end in death, but it’s important to recognize that this song preceded that one by three years. And while suicide is certainly intense, it wasn’t totally blue after hearing the rest of the Ready to Die album. However, the fact that Face didn’t even realize he was dead until near the end of this song is absolutely chilling.

6). “Two Dope Boyz [In a Cadillac]” (1996) by OutKast: The second track on OutKast’s sophomore album demonstrated that Big Boi and Andre 3000 were two of rap’s most inventive figures. The spacey motif could of come off gimmicky, but instead, it established them as an act willing to push the boundaries of Hip-Hop. Based on the their careers from then on, it’s safe to say they did that and then some.

5). “A Bird in the Hand” (1991) by Ice Cube: In a single verse, Ice Cube paints a picture of the plight faced by many, and he explains how METHOD-MAN-REDMANa young person falls into the role of a drug dealer in order to make ends meet. It’s an example of Cube articulating his anger, which is one of his greatest strengths as a writer and rapper.

4). “Da Rockwilder” (1999) by Method Man and Redman: The only thing wrong with this song is that it isn’t longer. It’s the Meth and Red duo at its best, with Rockwilder lending his name to one of his most memorable instrumentals.

3). “My Adidas” (1986) by Run-D.M.C.: Normally naming a song after a product seems like a novelty – but, in the case of this record, it is anything but. With the line, “We took the beat from the street and put it on TV,” it was clear that Run, D, and Jay were speaking about the entire culture of Hip-Hop. And by acknowledging their footwear by brand, they were able to point to something specific that made what they represented different from what other genres of music were doing at the time. This song is widely regarded as a  standout from one of Hip-Hop’s greatest groups ever, and the catalyst for thousands of rapper product endorsements on song.

2). “The Next Episode” (1999) by Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, and Nate Dogg: It had been a long time since “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” (where listeners were told to “just chill ‘til the next episode”), but it was worth the wait. Snoop and Dre drop stellar rhymes over a classic Dre beat – those cymbals during their verses are dope. Then the song quickly ends on a high note, both literally and figuratively, with Nate Dogg telling everybody, “Smoke weed everyday.”

1). “Public Service Announcement” (2003) by Jay-Z: As one of the highlights from Jay’s “last” album, this last minute addition found Mr. Carter and Just Blaze crafting one of their best records together. How can a track that’s billed as an “interlude” be better than most songs?  Hov is just that good, and so he’ll never have to reintroduce himself again.

Are there any more good, short cuts in your catalog? Hurry up and sound off in the comments section below!