Hip Hop Riffs Part 3

These hip hop riff posts fast becoming my favourite posts to do. With this one I’ve gone way down hill from the first two posts in terms of credibility. But at least there’s a long-overdue Nas riff in there.

Macklemore and Lewis – Thrift Shop



This one requires a bit of jiggering for the uke. The first note should be an octave below where it is here. So if you’re using low-G you can play it on the G-string, 1st fret.

The chords to go along with it are G#m – B – C# – D# – F#

Things get a lot more uke-friendly if you move the song down a fret (or capo the first fret). That lets you use the open g to buy you some time:


And makes the chords more familiar: Gm – Bb – C – D – F

MC Hammer – U Can’t Touch This



Nas – The Message



Unlike the other riffs in the post, this one is absolutely perfect for ukuleling. It’s based around fingerpicking a Gm chord. I use thumb on C, index on E and middle on A.

Warren G and Nate Dogg – Regulate



Das Racist – Rainbow in the Dark




Hip Hop Riffs Part 1
Hip Hop Riffs Part 2
More Hip Hop

View Comments


  1. Allan March 30th, 2013 12:46 pm

    Nas- ‘The Message’ (very) strongly reminiscent of Sting’s ‘The Shape of My Heart’ although even the riff for that was written by Dominic Miller. Oh how it all goes around ;)

  2. Jimmy McGee March 30th, 2013 10:15 pm

    Nooooo….now we’ve got to put up with Mr B for another 3 years!!!!

  3. Woodshed March 31st, 2013 7:14 am

    Allan: I believe it’s a sample of Shape of My Heart.

  4. ukuhippo March 31st, 2013 8:55 am

    Just like the MC Hammer riff is from Superfreak by Rick James.

  5. soltom April 4th, 2013 11:33 pm

    The riff of Nas – The Message reminds me solitary man by Johnny cash. Is there any connection?

  6. Woodshed April 5th, 2013 11:51 am

    soltom: Not that I know of but I can see where you’re coming from.

  7. tjvonp April 8th, 2013 4:14 am

    I like playing Thrift Shop the second way, but with the 6 on the E string replaced with a 1 on the A string. That way I barely have to leave the G minor chord shape for the riff. It’s a bit harder to get a nice bend, but I find I don’t miss it. Try it out!

  8. Woodshed April 8th, 2013 1:38 pm

    tjvonp: I couldn’t bend it properly that way when I tried it.

  9. john June 5th, 2013 7:21 pm

    the Nas the message is the original, it was sampled by sting in the shape of my heart. Just look at the release dates of the songs.

  10. Woodshed June 6th, 2013 7:24 am

    john: That seems massively unlikely but I shall check… Shape of My Heart released 1993. The Message released 1997. What are you on about?

  11. Kyle Johnson October 27th, 2014 12:56 pm

    Just learned can’t touch this!!!! You guys are the best website in the world!!!!!!!

  12. Woodshed October 28th, 2014 6:55 am

    Kyle: Thanks so much! That’s great.

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