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Recently in 2000s Category

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.

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.)
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.
theesat.jpgThe self-described jazz-psychedelic-rap act from Seattle put this EP out for Christmas 2009. It's just six songs, none over two minutes, and they use their influences to deconstruct a handful of Christmas readymades, from "The Christmas Song" to Sir Paul's carol on "Simply Cracking." It's an interesting melange of influences -- in addition to their own self-description, they throw in a bit of soundtrack and showtune influence, all frosted with a bit of garage electropop. The title song is fully original, kind of cute, and it could have been part of the Flaming Lips' movie "Christmas On Mars." It's all pretty experimental, but since it's so short it avoids the main pitfall of this kind of music -- it doesn't wear out its welcome. You can stream it and download a couple of the cuts from this link.

santast3.jpgThe label is also the artist in this case, who compiled, and in some cases masterminded some of, this collection of mashups and parodies for 2007. This is the third year and the third collection in this vein, but I'm just catching up now. "You Shook Me All Noel" by djBC starts out with some "Peanuts" clips but segues quickly into a killer mashup of AC/DC and Sarah MacLachlan. He also takes on the classical "Four Seasons" in three parts, featuring Lauren Hill, Wyclef Jean and Jay Z's mom at various times. "Elvis' Christmas Turkey" by Go Home Productions lays the King over a reggae backing for "White Christmas," and Elvis returns with Atom for "Santa's Pre-Boarding Announcement," which features a litany of goodies layered in over Elvis' "Here Comes Santa Claus." Divide and Kreate's "Velvet Santa" combines Michael Jackson with some heavy Lou Reed riffing on "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." "Brave Bells of Scotland" by Martinn gives us some latter-day Chipmunks action with Frank Sinatra, a Celtic rock band and bagpipe tunes all doubletimed over "Jingle Bells." Andy Williams meets the Yellow Magic Orchestra in Apollo Zero's "Do You Hear Rainbows I Hear," Mojochronic's pair of "Yuletide Zeppelin" cuts turn up here, and A Plus D Christmases up the "SNL" classic bit as "Xmas Dick in a Box." Two Hanukkah Alerts are included here too, with Voicedude stealing the Three Weissmans' "Jingle Bells," Adam Sandler's "Hanukkah Song," the "Dreidel Song," Allan Sherman and South Park to make "Dreidel All the Way," and DJ Flack gives us "Hanukkah-In-Dub," a cut-and-paste of various appropriate original sources over a Matisyahu performance. "Safety Bells" by DJ Earlybird mashes Smokey Robinson with Men Without Hats, David Hasselhoff is fodder for "Alala Falala Hasselhoff" by DJ Freddy King of Pants, "Last Christmas Twist" by Fettdog puts some hard-rock crunch on top of the Wham tune, and Voicedude returns to "Imagine Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" with John Lennon on top of the familiar carol. Projects like this have a tendency towards excess, but I think a lot of folks not familiar with the mashup world could listen to this all the way through and enjoy it. While you're at the site downloading this, click on the Give link and remember a fine charity in exchange for the music.
heathers.jpgI'm not sure if HeatherSong is an actual band or just a bunch of people who got together to make this CD. Also, it turns out the folks who are marketing this are encouraging non-profits to buy it in bulk and resell it to raise money. So it's not strictly a fund-raising vehicle, though it's well within the bounds of free enterprise. As for the music, it's kind of a melange of modern styles, mostly hip-hop and R'nB, and it's all covers of familiar carols. The opening track of carolers singing "We Wish You a Merry Christmas" over a drum machine isn't promising, though it picks up with "Good King HipHop," or Wenceslaus as we know him, a kind of talk-sing of the carol, and is followed up with "Housetop HipHop" or "Up on the Housetop" as we know it. There's a lightly reggae "Feliz Navidad," and the style returns with "Away in a Manger," called "A Reggae Prayer" here. An R'nB "Go Tell It On the Mountain" features Bootsy Collins-style bass playing and "Jingle Bells" gets back to hip-hop. It's mostly well played but has a kind of amateur vibe that works well with alt-rock, less well with R'nB and hip-hop. UPDATE: Heather of HeatherSong lets us know there are no drum machines on her record, and that "Feliz Navidad" is more of a rhumba. Remains in print, download or order hardcopy from Amazon.

A Motown Christmas mashup video

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This link to Vimeo.com had just this in the subject line: "Mistletunes potential." You bet. It's yet another epic Mojochronic mashup, this time of Motown hits overlaid with Christmas carols, but only those by Motown artists. The video is more than seven minutes, so strap yourself in if you click on this.

"The Christmas Song," David Banner (Universal)

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banner.jpgHulk smashed this one out way back in 2003, a rap take on "Good King Wenceslas" with this refrain: "It's Christmas time and we're broke again." Unemployment plays into this lack of holiday joy, which makes it even more pertinent again this year. Parental advisory plays into this one, too. From the album MTA2 -- Baptized in Dirty Water.

"Ghetto Christmas," Big Smo (Yayoda)

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bigsmo.jpgBig Smo rolled this joint for his 2007 album The True South, a hip-hop holiday shopping list with a brief guest shot from his own home-made chipmunks singing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." Gotta love somebody who only wants his "six gold teeth" for Christmas, right? Parental advisory called for on this one.
doghouse.jpgSome more fresh hip-hop holiday music, this time from tha Doggfather and his pals, for 2008. Following a Snoopified intro, J-Black kicks off with "Xmas On Soul," a smooth groove with a Snoop rap over the bridge. "This Christmas" by Tha Dogg Pound with Chris Starr is more of a rap over backing singers, though it picks up the riff from the Donny Hathaway classic. "A Gift That Keeps On Giving" is love, says Damani with Chris Starr again, although the story line to this tune is rather darker than that sentiment. "Twas the Night Before Xmas" is also by Damani with Snoop Dogg, though I'm not sure if this is the same performance that was out a decade ago under Snoop's name. Soopafly's "I Miss Those Days" puts a little nostalgia over the gangsta groove, and Bad Lucc raps about "My Little Mama Trippin' On Xmas." Snoop wraps things up with an outro followed by "The Pimp's Christmas Song." Other artists on hand include Half Dead and the Twinz, Lil Gee, Kurupt, The Hustle Boyz and Uncle Chucc. Every song is tagged "explicit" on iTunes, although I think there's also a clean version.

"Christmas Tree," Lady GaGa (Interscope)

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ladygaga.jpgLots of hip-hop attitude in this pastiche of carols and single-entendres, all told, pretty good fun without getting into Parental Advisory territory, though there's never any doubt what she's actually singing about. The dance diva and singer-songwriter put this out for 2008.

Santastic 4, various artists (djBC)

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santast4.jpgAnother compilation of DJ skills offering holiday mash-ups for 2008. The Ramones get sound-checked with "Christmas Bop" by Smash-Up Derby and "Blitzkrieg Santa" by Divide & Kreate, both playing off "Blitzkrieg Bop", the latter superimposing the Jackson 5's "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town." "You Should Be a Freaky Christmas Baby" by ATOM combines what sounds like Chuck Berry's version of "Merry Christmas Baby" along with "You Should Be Dancing" by the Bee Gees, and there's a bunch of other things ladled in there as well. Mojochronic, of "Yuletide Zeppelin" fame, is back here with "Whoville (Won't Get Yuled Again)," combining the Who with the scourge of Whoville himself, the Grinch, and also smashing "Baba O'Reilly" and "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" together with a James Brown Christmas song, the "Theme From Shaft," "Back Door Santa," "Freddy's Dead," the Beach Boys and more on "Xmasploitation (Santa's Badass Revenge)." Props for the grab of "Santa's Got a Brand New Bag" from the Bobs on that one, the bit spoken by "Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist." Go Home Productions offers "High Tides and Blocked Peace Pipes," combining "The Tide is High" by Blondie, "Wonderful Christmastime" and "Pipes of Peace" by Sir Paul. djBc turns "The Night Before Christmas" into a fast-paced rap over an electropop bed. My favorite from this might be "A Message To You Santa Claus," mashing the Specials with Augie Rios' "Donde Esta Santa Claus." There's so much going on here, and the nice thing is that it's a free download.
faithevn.jpgEvans is popularly known as a hip hop diva, but that's just a function of the time she has come up; she could have been a blues, jazz or soul star if she had come up in different eras. This 2005 album is typical in execution for an R'nB singer, with 11 songs, mostly standard carols and pop holiday songs, with a few hip hop moves on most of them to make them sound contemporary. "Mistletoe and Holly" sticks out because it's the only one that takes the pop/show tune approach; the rest are soulful jams of various tempos. "Soulful Christmas" is a faster number that will get you out on the dance floor, and her "Santa Baby" is a worthy performance, giving Eartha Kitt a run for her money. She swings over to blues with the now-standard "Merry Christmas Baby," and hits a traditional note with "White Christmas," "Christmas Song," and "O Come All Ye Faithful." I'm beginning to think there's a law somewhere that states no R'nB artist can do a Christmas album without covering Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas," but Evans' version is just as good as anybody else's.

badsanta.jpgJones was on the Christmas tip earlier with his own hip-hop holiday joint, and now he's back in 2008 for another go-round with his gang as well as actor/comic Mike Epps. Folks (like me) who were expecting a tie-in with the movie of the same title will be disappointed, as the story line for the album is thuggery on the holidays in general, with no references to Billy Bob Thornton's drunken criminal Santa. Leaving that aside, there's a lot of rapping and singing of standard carols as well as plenty of original material featuring Epps in his own version of a bad Santa, or just a general gangsta on the holidays. It's not bad, but if you've heard a lot of hip-hop, there are no surprises here.

Dipset Christmas, Jim Jones (Koch)

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dipset.jpgThe very first cut, "Dipset Xmas Time," cracked me up when I realized they'd lifted the chorus from Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime," changing it to "Living fast and ballin' at Christmastime." Jones is part of the Dipset, so all those folks are involved in this at some point, but it's not all Christmas, as his hit "We Fly High" is remixed for this album. My recommendation is run with the title song, as nothing else here really comes up to its level.
beatings.jpgThis is a hip-hop DJ collective essentially giving us its version of a mix CD. Unlike those of us out there who simply fire up iTunes or Musicmatch and let 'er rip, mix and burn, these guys commit the whole dancefloor experience to disc, complete with mash-together segues, scratching and some original raps. An incomplete rundown of the records used on this collection includes "Up On The Housetop" by the Jackson 5, "Soulful Christmas" by James Brown, "Winter Wonderland Reggae" by Byron Lee, and still more by the likes of Rufus Thomas, Rotary Connection, Run DMC, Kurtis Blow, Mack Rice and even Paul McCartney, Shonen Knife and The Waitresses, not to mention some things that fly by too quickly to note. For those of you who need the whole experience to get through the holiday nights, this is actually not bad at all. Those of you who want individual tunes to make your own mixes, well, you'll have to go back to the sources, same as these guys did.

beating2.jpgThis is the 2005 version of something we featured a couple of seasons ago, a hip-hop collective doing the whole DJ schtick on a collection of holiday tunes. Essentially it's a mix disc with the end of one song mashed into the beginning of another, using all sorts of found sounds from canned jingles to old radio bumpers recorded by British pop stars like the Police, Duran Duran, Paul Weller and Culture Club. Because of the transitions, you won't be able to extract tunes from it for your own collections, but if you want people to think you hired a DJ for your Christmas party, this is the way to go. Mostly hip-hop and R'nB stuff from the likes of Biz Markie, De La Soul, Kool Moe Dee, Run DMC, Biggie Smalls, Eazy E, Mary J. Blige, Destiny's Child, Donny Hathaway and more, but there's also reggae from Jacob Miller and Lee "Scratch" Perry, rock from The Ventures and Elton John, jazz from Billy Taylor's Orchestra, and inexplicably, three Lou Rawls cuts (but they're pretty good, so go figure.) Website seems to be history, however.

beating3.jpgThey're baa-aak for 2006. J-Squared and Hudson promise this is the very last time they will throw down with one of their hip-hop holiday mix discs. They mash up all kinds of stuff from the Anita Kerr Singers to Free Design, Mr. Lif to Free Design, Force MDs to Princess Superstar, Clarence Carter to James Brown and more. Check out the full song roster for all three discs at their website. UPDATE: Website seems to have gone away.

dirtboyz.jpgA single I found on iTunes in 2005, all this duo wants for Christmas is to "get drunk." Beats and rhymes are set over "Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy," for you "Nutcracker" fans out there. I'm told what I have is the "clean version," so there must be a not-so-clean version knocking around out there somewhere.

daHood.jpgYour basic Christmas hip-hop number, a 2004 single from iTunes, but it sounds like something from 20 years earlier, patching together a number of bits of carols including "Carol of the Bells," which provides the musical motif. I don't know anything about these guys, but this is pretty good. It's tough to know for sure -- there's Young Lo, or Young L.O., Da Real Young Lo, Young Dro, and more, so anybody who wants to add to this is welcome to try.

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