First Impressions: The 50 Best Album-Opening Songs in Rap History

24. Too Short "Life Is ... Too Short" (1989)

Producer: Todd Shaw
Album: Life Is...Too Short
Label: Dangerous Music/Jive/RCA Records


"Life Is ... Too Short" wears funk music the way that rappers would soon wear jeans: ass hanging out, belt reaching for the ground and denim all bunched up at the ankle. Todd Shaw was and is one of the greatest self-contained forces in hip-hop. "Life Is ... Too Short" has no samples, no guests and no singing. The way he made songs makes you feel like you could do it and so could anyone else and yet no one's been able to do it like him. In 1989, there was political rap and socially conscious rap and club rap and critically adored Native Tongues rap but "Life Is..." belonged to none of those categories. It can only be defined dumbly: this is RAP rap. Its sacrament is bass and its religion is persistence. Shaw's entire career can be summarized at the top of the third verse: "I don't stop rapping: That's my theme." —Sam Sweet

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