By// Quinn Peterson
While much of hip-hop’s appeal comes from its braggadocios nature, that certainly isn’t the extent of the genre. There are hip-hop songs on countless subjects and for all occasions, including Christmas. Following are five great hip-hop records to play to keep the holiday spirit alive. Read on…
1. Run DMC — Christmas In Hollis: Run DMC’s contributions to hip-hop have been well-documented. Among them is the best holiday-specific song in the genre. Flipping Clarence Carter’s Back Door Santa, the hip-hop pioneers put their own twist on Christmas, giving listeners a taste of what the holidays are like for the then-biggest stars in the culture. It’s really not all that different from the norm: “It’s Christmas time in Hollis Queens, momma’s cooking chicken and collard greens,” DMC raps in the second verse. A great set of visuals accompanied this song to help make it one of hip-hop’s most memorable tracks.
2. Kurtis Blow — Christmas Rappin’: One of the earliest hip-hop hits, this was definitely the first Christmas-themed rap record. Driven by a funky bass line, Blow drops some slick rhymes as he looks to remix the traditional, “played out” holiday story. On top of the groove, call and response and the sound of people partying in the background make this an absolutely timeless record absolutely.
3. Run DMC Feat. Puff Daddy, Ma$e, Snoop Dogg, Salt & Pepa, Onyx & Keith Murray — Santa Baby: Run (from Run DMC) gathered a handful of hip-hop’s finest to help him add some hip-hop flavor to an American classic. Each lyricist jumps in to tell their own tale, give a glimpse of their world at Christmas time and run off a lofty list of Christmas wishes. The result is a smooth, bouncing track, perfect for the Christmas season.
4. Kanye West Feat. Vado, Cam’ron, Jim Jones, CyHi Da Prince, Pusha T, Big Sean, Teyana Taylor and Musiq Soulchild — Christmas In Harlem: Hip-hop’s favorite narcissist took a step back to reflect on the sacred time year, and brought in a diverse group of friends and labelmates to help him do so. The beat does a great job setting the scene; by itself, it’s serene enough to help one get in the holiday mood. Throw in some nice rhymes and strong vocals, and you’ve got a solid record.
5. Snoop Doggy Dogg Feat. Daz Dillinger, Nate Dogg and Tray Dee — Santa Claus Goes To Straight To The Ghetto: Snoop Dogg borrowed James Brown’s title and Isaac Hayes’ “Do Your Thing” instrumentation to show how to do Christmas G-funk-style. Along with his Death Row record label affiliates, he takes a second to reflect and give thanks. A smooth chorus from the late Nate Dogg helps bring this one home.