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Recently in Hip-Hop Category

snoopboyz.jpgAbout two decades ago we had the album Christmas On Death Row, from which we got Snoop's original version of this song. Fast forward to this year and Snoop roped Philly favorites Boyz II Men into helping him perform a new version of this for a "Showtime at the Apollo" Christmas show this year. And since this is the modern age, it ain't no thang to split off the audio and put it up to stream or download, so go on ahead now.

Merry Christmess, Jumbled (self-issued)

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Jumbled is a DJ from Baltimore who compiled this 2017 collection of holiday songs built out of beats and samples by himself and other collaborators. Some of these items are just motifs, which might be an aid to podcasters and mixmasters looking to create something of their own. Among the full song performances, you might like the hip-hop stylings of "Just Another Holiday" by Reason, Darko the Super's "Stealing Shit on Christmas Eve" and "Another Very Darko Christmas," Che Rock's "38 Winters," JBerd's dis of "Mall Santa," and ALYX Ryon's "Chestnuts." Check it out on Bandcamp.
EDM DJ and music mogul Diplo keeps his string of Christmas albums intact with this 2017 entry into the canon. "Know No Better" by Major Lazer (and a cast of thousands, judging by the credits) kick things off in fine style with this uptempo jam, Party Favor performs "WAWA," which has nothing to do with the Philadelphia-area convenience stores but is a riff on "Jingle Bells," Foodman contributes "Island Christmas," a fairly languid instrumental with a modern take on reggae, and "Tropical Holiday" by LIZ & Hoodboi is a slow jam vocal about partying equatorial style. Aquadrop gives us the EDM version of "Feliz Navidad" we're all waiting for, "Smash the House" by Rrotik does the same for "Deck the Halls," Tre Oh Fie deconstructs "O Holy Night" in the fast-tempo "O Litty Night," and DJ Douggpound turns "We Three Kings" into "We Three Bings," but they do it by singing the "bing" syllable, not by sampling vintage Crosby. KiWi crosses EDM with K-pop on "What's In the Present Box," and SpydaT.E.K. offers "TEKK the Halls Up," another slightly more straightforward version of "Deck the Halls." This is for younger people than your favorite reindeer, but there are at least a couple of tunes here I'd consider for a playlist.

Kaskade Christmas, Kaskade (Arkade/Sony)

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kaskadeXmas.jpgThere are lots of strands of DJ culture outside the mash-up experts we've championed here over the past several years (and as of last year appear to have taken their places in the history books), and here we have one of house music's biggest stars diving into Christmas music with this 2017 album of mostly covers transformed by the house treatments. Actuallly, this is probably more chill, as there aren't many fast tempos here. There are a few originals, like the mid-tempo "Cold December," the slow-jam ballad "It's Beginning to Snow," and the chill-sounding "This Christmas Night," with guest vocal by Dia Frampton. "Christmas is Here" is a repurposed "Carol of the Bells," "Deck the Halls" with singer Erika gets a heavy syncopated synth-bass backing, Skylar Grey sings "O Come Emmanuel," Ilsey guests on "Silent Night," which has one of those wildly mixed-up tempos, and Gabrielle Current sings "The First Noel," which picks up the tempo considerably from the previously mentioned songs. Kayrae is the singer on "In the Bleak Midwinter," there's a jaunty "Winter Wonderland," and Jane XØ sings "Santa Baby," which gets a kind of robo-reggae rhythm. My pick to click off this is "God Rest Ye," which is the gentlemanly carol set to the backing of "Sara Smile" with Debra Fotheringham on vocals, but then I'm a sucker for this kind of juxtaposition arrangement. Check it out, it's the time of year we all have to chill, right?

Wrapper Paper, various artists (Hated By Most)

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"Various artists" is a bit misleading, in that most of these tunes are by Sly Till I Die, occasionally with guests. This record label is based in south-central Michigan, promoting a roster of up-and-coming hip-hop artists, and this longish seven-song EP is their holiday joint for 2017. Sly is assisted by Sixx Digit on "Generous This Christmas," which is a party record about giving gifts, "Cookie Doe," featuring Sly and Woe, is a rap about collecting money for weed and gifts over a minor-key version of "Jingle Bells," and Postman assists Sly on a suitably portentious track celebrating "Krampus." Sly and Eod Homegrown posture menacingly on "Merry Scary Christmas," Kodeen offers an ode to "Spiked Nog," Sly takes all the credit for the midtempo "Christmas Without You," and Postman wraps up with "New Year New You." All the songs get the Explicit tag, just so you know before playlisting them.

"Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer," DMX (Spotify)

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This just dropped on Spotify, and apparently they have a playlist with some exclusive songs, like Sam Smith on "River" and Demi Lovato doing "I'll Be Home For Christmas." Not the most tuneful vocal, but if you need something hip-hop for under the tree, this is 1:37 of throwing down. Apparently there's a YouTube video of him doing it a cappella from a few years ago, but this is a full studio version. If you're not on Spotify, check it here.

I'm going to admit finally that I don't know what the young people are on about when they talk about "mixtapes." I used to make mixtapes in the cassette days; now I make mix discs out of other people's songs. I'm told I should be making mix thumb drives nowadays, but never mind. This, by contrast, appears to be new original hip-hop Christmas music for 2016 created by Chance the Rapper and Jeremih along with special guests. We used to call these things "albums," but in today's ADHD musical world nobody listens to albums. So mixtapes it is, I guess. And this is a really cool mixtape. Special mention to "Stranger at the Table," a repurposing of the Jackson 5ive's "I Want You Back" with new lyrics. It's all mostly mid-tempo or slower, almost slow-jam styled modern R'nB but with a fair amount of rapping. On "All the Way," comedian Hannibal Buress jokes about wanting more auto-tune put on his voice, and "I Shoulda Left You" isn't particularly holiday oriented. "The Tragedy" addresses a homeless man's plight in winter, and while it's a nice ballad and rap I'm still going to state the vinyl record crackling was a cliché back when people were putting it on CDs. "Chi Town Christmas" repurposes "Carol of the Bells" into something befitting a hip-hop record, and the title song wraps things up with the title being used as a mantra. A few stray expletives turn up here, but otherwise this is quite listenable even if you're not particularly oriented toward hip-hop. It's only on Soundcloud.
8bitmullet.jpgThe Santastic series of holiday mash-ups ended with Vol. 9, but 8-Bit Mullet, a D.C.-area DJ, has revived the idea for 2016, offering the work of many of the DJs who provided their work for the Santastic albums. He's mashed them up himself into a 61-minute supercut, so I'm having a little trouble distinguishing where one DJ's work ends and another's begins. I guess that plays against my natural tendency to highlight particular cuts, but just as that didn't stop 8-Bit Mullet from mashing them together, that surely won't stop anybody from ripping them back apart. I'll point out that several of the cuts on here, like "No Sleep Till Christmas" by Divide & Kreate, "Insane Wonderland" by DJ Flack, "Cold Chillin' with Stevie at Christmastime" by DJ BC, "Jingle Bells Pon De Floor" and "Tommy's Royal Christmas" by DJ Schmolli, have already been on Santastic collections. It also appears that Mojochronic's Led Zeppelin mashups are on here uncredited. From among the rest, I'm enjoying "Frosty DMC" by Sam Flanagan, "Funky Christmas" by Brat, "Pumping Up Christmas" by DJ Schmolli, "Xmasploitation" by Mojochronic, and "Sister Christmas" by DJ Lobsterdust. If you'd like to see what 8-Bit Mullet has wrought here, by all means download this sucker free of charge.
Nice slow-jam hip-hop record for 2016. The artists say they were looking to highlight the special time of year with positivity, and it looks like they succeeded in this story of a family supporting each other through the tough times. Looks like it's only on Soundcloud for the moment.
Diplo's label keeps the string of hip-hop Christmas mixtapes/compilations going for 2016 with this just-out collection. This is enjoyable to listen to, mainly because there's a fair amount of Jamaican influence throughout, starting with opening track "Christmas Trees" by Major Lazer, a reggae-influenced number that is concerned with more types of vegetation than just the plant in the title, if you catch my drift. "Carnival" by 4B and "Mrs. Claus" by Bad Royale both float above the melody of "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," and the latter is essentially a booty call for Santa's spouse (only song with an explicit notation, btw). Nonsens's "Gungla the Snowman" goes kind of reggaeton on Frosty's theme song, "Creepy Christmas" by Aquadrop & Big Fish isn't a shout-out to Halloween, but apparently addresses someone who's a "Christmas creeper" over "O Come All Ye Faithful." "The Christmas Party" by KiWi actually manages to mash up hip-hop and J-pop with a bit of Chipmunks thrown in, Jan Level's "World Peace" and Akira Akira's "Chrimbus" are instrumentals, as is DJ Douggpound's mix closer "Up On the Housetop." Some of these tunes get a bit clattery, but there's a lot of good pace-changers for your own mix. Heck, pull 'em apart and remix them yourself if you want.
robbyelf.jpgActually, I'm surprised somebody didn't come up with a hip-hop elf character before this. This is actually Robby's second collection, released in 2011, but I just found out about him this year. Not all the songs are really Christmas related, except that they're being performed by an elf, but it's out there for those of you who want to bust rhymes on Christmas. The title song is a discussion of the fundamental verities, peace, love and understanding and such. "Lost Christmas Love" is a love letter written to a lost lover, and "Christmas Poppin" is the opening statement from an elf dedicated to "Christmas crunkin'." "Bling" is pretty much about what rappers have instead of presents, although Robby's claim that Santa has a MySpace page means whoever the elf in charge of the North Pole's IT department needs to migrate old Father Christmas to Facebook, stat. "Boogie Bootie Bounce" is all about "how elves get down," and not so much about the holiday. "The Challenge" is your usual rap showdown number, and "Don't Hate" cranks up the guitars in support of the title's request. Overall, this is kind of old-school sounding, and the raps are a little too seriously intended for the concept, which is a rapping elf. If Robby keeps at this, I'd suggest a lot more humor in future raps. UPDATE: Robby's reissued this album with some additional cuts for 2016, including last year's single of "Christmas Forgiveness" and "Don't Be No Scrooge." Another new cut is "Boogie Bootie Bounce," again with the old-school rap sound, but fun. Apparently the updated album is only on iTunes and CDBaby for now.

"Merry Xmas," Fetty Wap featuring Monty (300)

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This guy is apparently the latest and greatest in hip-hop, if you read Pitchfork, anyway, and for 2015 he's put up a Christmas tune on Soundcloud. Appears to be a stream only, so here you go.

Robby has made a business out of hip-hop Christmas music, and for 2015 he's got two new tunes. "Christmas Forgiveness" is a fairly conventional recitation over a musical bed offering holiday-themed affirmations, and that's only streaming on Soundcloud so far. "Don't Be a Scrooge" is available for download, and it's more of a hip-hop workout, though completely safe for work and therefore for your family playlists.

This is actually the second Christmas mixtape compiled by Diplo and Mad Descent, the first being called, wait for it, A Very Decent Christmas, from 2013. Of course, I'm just getting hep to this for 2014. Both are still streaming from Soundcloud, but click the cover to buy this one from Amazon, and click here to get the previous edition. Jessi Slater & Wuki kick things off with "Rock Them Bells," a heavy-bass version of "Deck the Halls" with the title chanted repeatedly over it. Diplo & Alvaro featuring Kstylis offer "6th Gear (Bethlehem Edition)," a holiday remake of the artists' existing song. Snappy Jit goes to the dancefloor with "Lil Drumma Boy," Aquadrop offers to "Troll the Halls," another deconstruction of "Deck the Halls," and Splurt Christmases up his "#OMW25YG" with a taste of "Frosty the Snowman."  DJ Fire's "Twerkith On These Bells" is a fairly minimalist performance, 4B offers yet another clattery "Deck the Halls" take on "Drop It Again (Xmas Version)," Wiwek's "Totem Night" drops the beat on "Silent Night," Alizzz offers a deconstructed slow jam over "Jingle Bells" on "What If (Jingle Edit)," and Davoodi's "The Nutcracka" needs very little elaboration from the likes of me, in that it's the hip-hop take on the Tchaikovsky classic. Though I'm far from a hip-hop expert, this stuff is pretty listenable to me.
The Brooklyn-born, Venice Beach-based hip-hop collective offers this fine holiday jam on its Holiday in the Sun Sampler at Noisetrade for 2014. It's a rap tune with a solid musical background, relaxed but danceable, and it'll bring a fine change of pace to your playlists. The other songs on the sampler aren't holiday tunes, but don't sweat it, if you like the hit, you'll probably like the other tunes.

Mixing and mashing their way through the holidays are the various DJs and Pro Tools jockeys who help us get a different look at the holiday by cutting and pasting the familiar into something new. And appropriately enough, Mojochronic kicks off "Number 9" with "Yuletide Beatles," doing what Giles Martin did with The Beatles Love but emphasizing selections from the Fabs' Christmas flexidiscs in honor of the holiday. Mojochronic returns later with "Walking In LA Winter Wonderland," in which he builds an 80s Christmas song out of the Missing Persons' hit and Jean Dixon's version of the popular carol. Voicedude presides over a shotgun marriage of Mariah Carey and AC/DC on "You Shook Me All I Want For Christmas" and puts Smokey Robinson over Plain White T's on "Hey There, St. Nicholas!" Rapper DMX once did an off-the-cuff version of "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer," and dj BC lays it over the Burl Ives version here, then comes back with "Forgot About Merry," in which the Staples Singers meet an array of Christmas villains. ATOM offers "A Glimpse of James' Jingle Socks," in which James Brown is reimagined as a chill artist, and "Santa Ist Das Bein Stalker," in which a German guy snarks on Santa while various grooves play behind him, and I don't have any idea where that came from. DJ Schmolli keeps the Germanic groove going on "Weihnachtszeit-Song," and Divide and Kreate has Peggy Lee doing "Little Breakbeat Boy," in which various hip-hop beats accompany the "Little Drummer Boy." DJ M.i.F takes the "remix classic jazz age singers" craze of a few years ago a few steps further, going crazy on Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby with "Children Winter Wonderland." DJ Morgoth offers "The Power of New Divide," in which Linkin Park is uneasily joined to Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and "Carol of the Tolling Bell" is G3RSt's combination of Metallica and Shawn Lee's Ping Pong Orchestra. And no, Metallica aren't playing "Carol of the Bells" on this mashup. Mashups aren't for everybody, of course, but for those who like to see familiar themes subverted, especially at the holiday, Santastic has become a great holiday tradition.
From El-P and Killer Mike's 2013 album, also titled Run the Jewels, this is their hip-hop holiday song. NSFW for lyrics, though not for visuals. I felt it was necessary to post this since it features a (gasp! clutch pearls!) black Santa.


Santastic 8, various artists (djBC)

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If you were concerned that you weren't going to get your minimum holiday allotment of mashups, fear not, the eighth annual Santastic compilation is here to make your season. As always, you may debate which cuts are keepers and which are not, but there's no argument that everybody's likely to find something that will speak to them. And as the whole collection is free of charge, you can make that determination at your leisure. In keeping with the collection's cover art, we kick off with "The Christmas Massacre of Charlie Brown" by DJ John, which is a big beat overlaid on "Schroeder and Snoopy" and collaged with the speaking voices from the iconic "Peanuts" special. The collection's curator, djBC, mixes up "Cold Chillin With Stevie," combining Stevie Wonder, Juice Crew, Harry Potter, and Bob & Doug McKenzie, and "Jack Frost vs the Weatherman," using the TV special and snippets of the Mills Brothers. Every year brings us nods to the past year's popular culture, so we get Pimpdaddysupreme's "How KimYe Ruined Christmas" with Kanye West and Patsy Cline, DJ McFly's "The Sugar Plum Wrecking Ball" with Tchaikovsky meeting Miley Cyrus, DJ Schmolli's "Tommy's Royal Christmas" with the Who and Lorde, and Mojochronic's "Lou Christmas (Without You), in which the Velvet Underground meets Straight No Chaser and the Staple Singers. Mojochronic also gives us "Rudolph's Red Nose" with Gene Autry and Sage the Gemini, Voicedude offers "Folsom Prison Christmas" with Johnny Cash, "Last White Christmas" featuring Cream and the "Glee" cast, and "St Nick the Knife" with what is supposed to be Bobby Darin, but sounds more like the Joel Kopische parody. Divide & Kreate created a killer "No Sleep Till Christmas" from the Beastie Boys and Wham, DJ Tripp's "Just Like Rudolph" mashes The Cure with Gene Autry and snippets of "Island of Misfit Toys," ATOM throws in the kitchen sink on "Hark the Snow King's Marshmellows," and G3RSt's "Sleigh Me Like a Pirate" is for those who like to talk like one.
yingyang.jpgFrom 2008, the guys who gave us "Whistle While You Twurk" (in 2000, for all you folks who just discovered "twirking" this year) popped out this hip-hop nod to the holiday. Just four songs, "Sleigh Ride," "Deck Da Club," "Carol of Da Belz" and "This Christmas," with the tested hip-hop template of starting out with the song and then breaking out to rap over the changes. (Tagged "Explicit" for those of you who need to know such things.) Check it out for a change of pace.

We're up to the seventh in the Santastic holiday mashup series, which in my book ranks as a modern-day Christmas tradition, right up there with putting giant bows on Lexuses, setting your outdoor lights to blink in time with Trans-Siberian Orchestra and complaining that there's some spurious War on Christmas going on. This year's collection shows a trend toward more pop consciousness; although dance-floor and hip-hop conventions still rule, there's a number of cuts on here that would blend right into the background if you slipped them into some store's speaker system. Mojochronic's "What Child Too Close" is an example, as it mashes up Alex Clare with, of all people, The Judds. You could almost say the same for that mixmaster's "White Chrismadness," which backs Diana Ross with Muse. Mojochronic's third contribution is more rock-oriented, "I Wanna Be Dentated," in which a Ramones medley backs up The Three Stooges' "All I Want For Christmas is My Two Front Teeth" and Ray Conniff's "Rudolph." Another smooth mover is Voicedude, who combines Sublime and Smokey Robinson in "Jingle Bells Are What I Got," and DJ Flack mines similar territory with "Sleigh Ride 2 Hell!" featuring Johnny Mathis, Ciara and AC/DC. DJ Schmolli opens and closes this playlist with "Jingle Bells Pon De Floor," in which Jars of Clay meets up with Major Lazer and Soma. DJ Morsy gives us a "Toxic X-mas" featuring Britney Spears and Jose Feliciano," G3RSt drops Sean Kingston on top of Brian Setzer in "Jingle Girl," Brutal Redneck's "Smells Like Ray Conniff" is just what it sounds like, and the Temptations meet Night Ranger in "Sister Christmas" by Lobsterdust. Gotta love dj BC's "Jingle Pressure," combining Queen, David Bowie and Smokey Robinson, with a cameo by Vanilla Ice, and ATOM's "Santa Brought My Baby Around the World" is so densely packed the only thing I can positively identify is Elvis Presley. Shouldn't leave without mentioning "Riders on the Sugar Plum," DJ McFly's mash of the Doors and Maroon 5 into a classical rendition of "Sugar Plum Fairy." Once again, another great collection of mashups, and like always it's free to download.

In case you thought that Sufjan Stevens, having created a five-CD boxed set of Christmas music for the second time in his career, couldn't possibly have any more Christmas left in him, well, you're bloody wrong. He's made a mixtape of Christmas hip-hop music featuring such folks as Kitty Pryde, Nicky Da B, Busdriver, Heems of Das Racist, DMA and Oreo Jones. I've listened to it once, and, well, it is what it is. It doesn't leap out at me as being something absolutely wonderful, but those of you who are more inclined toward this genre might like it more; have at it in comments. Stream it at Soundcloud via this Pitchfork link, grab it at this link.

"She Wants It All," Jumbled (self-issued)

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jumbled.jpgJumbled is a Baltimore DJ who threw together this short rap about shopping for Christmas goodies for your significant other. It's pretty cool, building a hip-hop tune that sounds for all the world like it was recorded in the early 60s rather than 2012. The artist says he was going for a Phil Spector sound, and it's not far off. Get it at Bandcamp.
dubcrack.jpgWell, here's one to put that whole "Nutcracker" phenomenon in its place -- a dubstep and techno version of the classic ballet, augmented by versions of classic carols and a batch of classical selections given the treatment as well. In addition to seven selections taken from "The Nutcracker," we get "Dubstep of the Bells," a good excuse to drop the Trans-Siberian Orchestra and reprogram your outdoor Christmas lights; "First Noel Dub," "Greensleeves Dub," "Hark The Herald Angels Complex," "I Saw Three Ships Dub" and "Dark Jingle Bells Dub." The classical roster includes "Toccata Fugue D Minor Dub," "Dance of the Nights Dub," "Night on Bald Mountain Dub," "Rite of Spring Dub," "Fantasia Dub," "Passacaglia Dub," "Vivaldi Storm Dub" and a couple others. Not sure anybody would listen all the way through, but I imagine some folks would want to drop a cut into their mix discs, playlists or mix tapes.
britneyxmas.jpgI only stumbled over this a while back, a six-song EP that is a rap appeal to the singing star to come home with the artist behind this recording for Christmas. Well, actually, for Christmas 2006, as I don't hear much about ol' Brit anywhere but the supermarket tabloids nowadays. But not to worry, if Britney don't float your boat, the performers have thoughtfully repurposed the title song as appeals to Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Simpson, Carmen Electra, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton. Yes, that's the other five songs on this collection. They're identical except for the name of the celebrity being appealed to. A good change of pace for your Christmas playlists, as long as you don't think any of these names are past their sell-by date. Apparently, this was repurposed from an EP, Britney Spears Wedding, from the same year for holiday consumption. (I was going to say, "The aughts called, they want their celebrities back," but I'm the one who didn't find out about this until now.)
santastic6.jpgHard to believe it's the sixth edition of this new Christmas tradition featuring this bunch of like-minded deejays working their turntable-computer-beatbox skills on the Christmas repertoire. And like always, it's free to download. Highlights from this year's compilation include "Santatage," with Divide & Kreate mashing Otis Redding, the Beastie Boys and Run-DMC together; "Party Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" by Dj McFly bringing LMFAO together with Brenda Lee; A Plus D vs RIAA brings us the genius "Crimson & Chanukkah," which brings Joan Jett's cover of Tommy James and the Shondells together with a cover of Adam Sandler's holiday hit; Voicedude puts his 2012 prediction on the line with his version of "You're a Loser, Newt Gingrich," and also does "Let's Get Our Fa La La On," in which Marvin Gaye meets the Osmonds, Boyz II Men and The Beeb; ATOM brings Fats Domino, Peggy Lee and Bjork together on "Wonderland Walker"; DJ Flack's "Marshmallow Vanilla Fudge World" combines the band in the title with Brenda Lee over a reggae beat; and Mojochronic, he of the "Yuletide Zeppelin" mashups, gets Andy Williams to "Pump Up the Holiday" with Technotronic. I mentioned last year that the Jackson 5ive "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" gets a bit too much mashup love; well, it's here again, I'll let you find it after you download the latest collection.
mindless.jpgI hadn't heard of these folks, but they appear to be a kind of hip-hop Jackson 5ive for the modern age. This 2011 Christmas jam is good fun, and though the title plays off a previous hit "My Girl," the two songs have little in common. Too bad; I was hoping to see a revival of sequel /answer songs here. I guess Roxanne killed that musical meme for good.

Christmas in Diverse City, TobyMac (Forefront)

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tobymac.jpgNot being a Christian pop music fan, I had to look this guy up to discover he's sort of the white Kanye West of Christian music, a former member of DC Talk, solo artist and founder of Gotee Records. His fans already are aware that the album title is a play on his previous solo album Welcome To Diverse City, which means that, like the earlier disc, TobyMac brings in other artists to perform songs without him on the Diverse City part of this 2011 album. Toby's six songs kick off with "Christmas This Year," a strong hip-pop original that keeps the preaching to a miniumum and features Leigh Nash of Sixpence None the Richer. The hip-hop touches continue on versions of "First Noel," "Little Drummer Boy," "Mary's Boy Child" and "O Come All Ye Faithful," the latter with a rap section. "This Christmas (Father of the Fatherless)" is an all-rap story about adopting an orphan with plenty of gospel talk and a pastiche of familiar carols in between verses. Crossing over to Diverse City, we get "Carol of the Kings" from Maj, Gabe Real and Liquid, a rap number mashed into "Carol of the Bells" and "We Three Kings." Superherose offer "Birth of Love," an uptempo R'nB number dedicated to Mother Mary, Arch Nemesiz does an almost straight soul ballad reading of "What Child Is This," and Nirva Ready does the same with "Angels We Have Heard On High." Tim Rosenau breaks form with a straight-up holiday rocker, "It Snowed," a nice piece of work. Toddiefunk gives up the funk with "Santa'scomin'baka'round!" and Byron "Mr. Talkbox" Chambers wraps things up with the slow jam "Christmas Time," which is seductive enough that you may not notice you're being preached to. This is a strong collection of hip-hop holiday tunes with at least a few entries that could break out to a wider market.

kanye.jpgA gang-rap for the 2010 holiday led by the King Of All Media, Mr. Ima-Let-You-Finish himself, in which the holiday plays out in that Manhattan neighborhood still considered by many flyover-country folk to be a hotbed of poverty. In reality, it's been gentrifying for a long time now, which is why this song doesn't touch on anything to do with deprivation -- it's just home to these folks. If this were Conor Oberst and his friends, it would be "Christmas in Omaha," but it's Kanye and his posse, so it's set in a majority-minority neighborhood. Not bad at all.

Santastic V: Snow, Man!, various artists (dj BC)

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santastic5.jpgIt's mashup time again with the usual gang of mixmasters once again for 2010. They're up to the minute, as Cee-Lo's instant classic "F--k You" is already part of the proceedings thanks to Voicedude, who mashes up the Jackson 5 "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" with that song. (Gotta point out that this particular Christmas song seems to get a lot of mashup love and that it's starting to border on cliché.) Voicedude also offers "Christmas Fire," in which Billy Squier's holiday tune seamlessly meets Johnny Cash's "Ring of Fire." Dj BC brings us "8-Bit Hip-Hop Christmas," featuring video game music versions of "Let It Snow" over a rap that isn't familiar to me but is holiday-themed. Smash-up Derby finds a non-Jacksons version of "Santa Claus Is Coming To Town" to lay over the White Stripes on "Seven Nation Santa." Mojochronic stops in twice with his "Motown Christmas" and this season's winner, "Rudolph (You Don't Have To Put On the Red Light)," the latter featuring the Police and the former liberally raiding the Motown Christmas library to mash one familiar hit on top of another. "Swing the Boot" by Martinn drags everything from Elvis to Mike Oldfield to Jona Lewie on top of the Greenhill Dixieland Jazz Band for what sounds like something that could be the overture to a Broadway musical. Divide & Kreate brings Clarence Carter together with Donna Summer for a great "I Feel Santa," using the backing track from "I Feel Love." DJ Flack's "Insane in the Winter Wonderland" brings Cypress Hill together with Rosemary Clooney and the Mexicali Brass Band, and DJ McFly mashes Jay-Z with Peanuts (does Charlie Brown really have "99 Problems?") for "If You Jinglin'." There's two versions of this and three versions of "Forget You Santa" on the full download, but of course you may pick and choose among what you like; it's free after all (the creators recommend a charitable contribution be made to a non-profit for the needy as a token of appreciation). Once again, this isn't just technical artistry; as in the past, this is a fairly listenable collection, not to mention a danceable one.
wickedxmas.jpgThis is essentially a Boston-speak parody of "Have Yourself a Merry Christmas," and the single features five versions, the original plus four remixes done by the folks behind the Santastic compilations, like dj BC, ATOM and Black Element. The original song was from 2004 and the remixes were released in 2009. There's some interesting reinterpretations here, though I suspect most folks tend to ignore the remixes in favor of the original song. But anything that puts shekels into the pockets of the Santastic folks is OK by me.
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