Christmas songs tend to lean into the jazzy and operatic. Cheery show tunes belted by ringing, swallow-you-whole crooners. They deck the halls and jingle all the way.
Those same songs repeated in your ears year after year can be comforting. But they can also be cringe worthy, inducing some serious claustrophobia. If that’s the case, these Christmas hip hop songs are here to save your cheer. The genre has embraced the holiday spirit like few others. Here are the essential tracks to celebrate this winter.
1. Run-DMC—“Christmas in Hollis”
Like many rap trends Run-DMC established, “Christmas in Hollis” is ground zero for Christmas hip hop tracks. Its inclusion in movies like Less Than Zero and Die Hard raised its profile, but it didn’t need it. This tracks bangs like the best Run-DMC tracks do.
2. Kanye West Ft. CyHi Da Prince, Teyana Taylor—“Christmas in Harlem”
The embedded version of Ye’s Christmas staple is the bare bones, vanilla version. During his slew of G.O.O.D. Friday releases, Kanye released an essential remix, which featured a reunited Dipset and Pusha T and Big Sean. Here it is. It’s worth your time.
3. Ying Yang Twins—“Deck Da Club”
This is the Ying Yang Twins, arbiters of ATL crunk. What a delightful, wonderful flip this is.
4. Eazy E—Merry Muthaphukkin Christmas
“Christmas in Compton.” Combining one of the clearest purveyors of gangster rap with jingle bells and Christmas bars results in funny, subversive raps.
5. Kurtis Blow—“Christmas Rappin”
A bit cheesy, heavy on rappity-rapping, but still charms your pants off, like Kurtis Blow always does.
6. Atmosphere—“If I Was Santa Claus”
Earnest and endearing, this Atmosphere track invites holiday reflection more than celebration.
7. Run the Jewels—“A Christmas Fucking Miracle”
A feel-good yuletide for the family. Just kidding. As Run the Jewels do, it’s menacing yet reassuring about the real possibilities of a Christmas miracle. Also Killer Mike as Santa Claus should replace every suburban mall Santa across the country.
Christmas songs tend to celebrate snow and cold weather difficulties. This gets dull for Southerners and why we have Ludacris to create our anthems.
9. Jim Jones—“Ballin’ On Xmas”
Jim Jones made an entire Christmas album called A Dipset X-mas. It’s the best Christmas album ever made. There will be no other arguments.
10. OutKast—“Player’s Ball”
At 18 years old, Andre and Big Boi made every Christmas I’ve ever had seem boring and mediocre. Take me to the Player’s Ball.
11. The Treacherous Three—“Santa Rap”
Reality check from the 80s.
12. Juelz Santana & Starr—“Jingle Bellz”
Eradicates all previous versions and recordings of “Jingle Bells.”
13. DMX—“Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (Remix)”
The best Christmas rap of all-time. That DMX still hasn’t recorded a Christmas album remixing the classics should be considered a national tragedy.
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