Top 5 Hip-Hop Christmas Songs | Features | MN2S

We pick our favourite festive hip-hop tracks to make the ultimate Christmas playlist.

 
Christmas music is dominated by middle of the road pop, dated rock, and syruppy ballads. So to those who haven’t delved deep for it, it may come as a surprise that many of the finest hip-hop artists have turned their talents to the yuletide genre. This is our list of some of the best results.

Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis [1987, A&M Records]

 

 
Featuring samples from many other well-known Christmas tracks, alongside original lyrics celebrating the group’s home neighbourhood, ‘Christmas in Hollis’ has become a true classic of the festive season. Like much of Run DMC’s work, the track crossed over into the mainstream, becoming a chart hit and featuring on Christmas playlists to this very day.

OutKast – Player’s Ball [1993, LaFace/Arista/MCA]

 

 
OutKast’s debut single was released to promote two albums: the duo’s debut Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, but also A LaFace Family Christmas. The latter of the two albums was released first, and it featured festive contributions from the LaFace signees including Usher, TLC and Toni Braxton.

The song discusses the holidays without being overtly festive. Andre 3000’s opening line “It’s beginning to look a lot like, what?” intentionally subverts Christmas stereotypes, even as the song continually references the season. Big Boi’s “Gettin’ tipsy off the ‘nog” is another playful nod.

Rev Run & The Christmas All Stars – Santa Baby (feat. Mase, Puff Daddy, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Salt N Pepa, Onyx & Keith Murray) [1997, A&M]

 

 
Christmas is all about getting the family together. Here, Rev Run did just that. The Run DMC rapper assembled a truly all star roster of hip-hop heroes to remix the classic Eartha Kitt track. Run references his own ‘Christmas in Hollis’ performance with his opening verse, and the other rappers in attendance bring festive tales of their own to the song. Though it was never going to eclipse the song it samples, this version of ‘Santa Baby’ is more than worth adding to any Christmas playlist.

As a sneak bonus for hip-hop heads, they may not appear on the track, but Fugees Lauryn Hill and Wyclef Jean have songwriting credits.

Kanye West – Christmas in Harlem (feat. Teyana Taylor and CyHi the Prynce) [2010, Roc-A-Fella/Def Jam]

 
With a title recalling Run DMC’s list-starting classic, Kanye West’s holiday effort is a more recent entry in the long hip-hop Christmas tradition. The track has been described as one of the most joyful West has ever released, with Taylor’s warm vocals and the rappers’ upbeat verses celebrating the most wonderful time of the year. Like Rev Run above, Kanye knows how to bring the whole family together. The full version of ‘Christmas in Harlem’ features contributions from more guests, including Musiq Soulchild, Big Sean, Pusha T, and Cam’Ron.

Snoop Doggy Dogg – Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto [1996, Death Row]

 

 
A LaFace Family Christmas proved that an urban Christmas album was an excellent idea, so it’s no surprise that Death Row Records decided to follow suit some years later. The brilliantly-named Christmas on Death Row album was a full stocking of treats, the best of the bunch being ‘Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto’. It has little in common with the James Brown track of almost the same name, but its discussion of Santa’s ideal delivery route is just as urgent. Guest verses from Daz Dillinger, Nate Dogg, Bad Azz and Tray Dee help Snoop Dogg bring the cheer. And the best part? He didn’t even change his name to Snoop Reindeer for this.

Book Run-DMC or Big Boi now to bring a hip-hop Christmas to your venue.

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