Keep Listening: 20 of Hip-Hop’s Best Hidden Tracks
The way we consume music is constantly changing. We've gone from vinyl to digital, from buying to downloading. With that, plenty has changed, from the way that artists release music to the way that we discover those artists. We've also, in a sense, lost the mystery of the hidden track. Gone are the days when the back cover of a CD gives a track list and not until we sit through those 18 cited tracks and get to No. 19 do we realize that there's an extra treat at the end. Now, when we pop a CD that we bought into iTunes or download it directly from the source, we see exactly how many tracks there are, and exactly how long each one is.
That's alright, though. It comes with the evolution. And even though they're no longer always the surprise that they used to be, artists still include hidden tracks on their projects from time to time. There have been many great ones over the years, so XXL decided to look back at some of our favorite hidden tracks.
Dr. Dre feat. Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Daz Dillinger and Jewell
"Bitches Ain't Shit"
The Chronic (1992)
Though this diss was listed on later versions of the album, when Dre's debut first hit shelves, this closing cut was not cited.
"Can't Take My Eyes Off Of You"
The Miseductaion of Lauryn Hill (1998)
Though this track was not listed on the CD, it became one of this classic album's biggest hits.
"Jigga My Nigga"
Vol. 3...Life and Times of S. Carter (1999)
Following "Hova Song (Outro)" on this 1999 release, Jay included brief silence and then extended the track to include "Jigga My Nigga," which was also found on Ryde or Die Vol. 1. "Girl's Best Friend," from the Blue Streak soundtrack, was also an added bonus.
"Act Fore (The End?)"
Things Fall Apart (1999)
The opening song of this 1999 album was called "Act One (Things Fall Apart)," so it was only fitting that the disc would come to a close with "Act Fore (The End?)," even if it was unlisted on the back cover.
The W (2000)
Featuring Raekwon, Ghostface Killah, Method Man, and U-God, this was the final track on the Clan's album The W.
Kool G Rap and M.O.P.
"Legendary Street Team (Remix)"
Lyricist Lounge 2 (2000)
Following Q-Tip's "Outro," this unlisted cut produced by Nottz comes on to be the album's actual closer.
Let's Get Free (2000)
This debut album from the politically charged duo had 27 tracks of silence after the first 16 songs. Ultimately, it lead to this song, track 44. Track 45, "The Pistol," was also a hidden track.
"Breathe Easy (Lyrical Exercise)"
The Blueprint (2001)
Just like he did on Vol. 3, Hov brought The Blueprint to a close with two standout hidden tracks: this one, as well as the Kanye West-produced "Girls, Girls, Girls (Remix)."
Devil's Night (2001)
Unlike many hidden tracks, this did not appear at the end of a song, but rather as its own track. However, the record, which is performed only by Eminem and addresses his issue with Limp Bizkit, was unlisted on the CD.
Ludacris featuring Jermaine Durpi
"Welcome to Atlanta"
Word of Mouf (2001)
Included as a hidden track on Luda's sophomore album, this single was featured more prominently on J.D.'s Instructions, where it was track No. 2.
Immortal Technique featuring Diabolic
Revolutionary Vol. 1 (2001)
After Technique spits his story rhyme "Dance With The Devil," there's a brief silence before he enlists Diabolic and the two fire ferocious bars.
Tru Dawgs (2002)
This diss aimed at Cash Money and Mystikal appeared shortly after the last listed track on the album, "How A Thug Nigga Likes It," comes to an end.
Jedi Mind Tricks
"The President's Wife"
Legacy of Blood (2004)
On this 2004 track featuring Des Devious, Vinnie Paz and co. plan to kidnap the President's wife without a plan.
"In Love With the Mic"
The Tipping Point (2004)
This ode to the microphone featured Dave Chappelle, Skillz and Truck North and continued with the Philly collective's trend of including hidden tracks on a number of their records.
Following "A.W.O.L." on AZ's 2005 album by the same name, an extended, unlisted track with three separate songs ("Live Wire," "The Magic," and "The Truth") was included.
Late Registration (2005)
The cut from Kanye's sophomore album appears after a listed bonus track, though this song itself is unlisted.
"Oh Yeah (Work)"
Bred 2 Die Born 2 Live (2006)
Though it ended up being the third single off of Scrappy's debut, this Lil Jon-produced song featuring E-40 and Sean Paul was an unlisted track.
808s & Heartbreak (2008)
This live performance from Singapore was turned into the last track on Kanye's 2008 auto-tune infused album.
Unlisted on the credits of Em's most recent album, this Havoc-produced cut brings the platinum disc to a close.
Gunplay ft. Waka Flocka
Ashes to Ashes (2010)
After the Bugatti Boyz's bonus cut on Rozay's latest mixtape, there is a minute of silence before this track, which doesn't feature Ross, starts to play.