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Dipset Christmas, Jim Jones (Koch)

The 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.

Season's Beatings III, various artists (Off the Hook)

They'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.

Season's Beatings The Second Coming, J Squared and Hudson (Off the Hook)

This is the 2005 version of something we featured a couple of seasons ago (below) , 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.) Update: Vol. 3 is out for 2006.

Season's Beatings — Off the Hook Presents a Yuletide Odyssey, various artists (Off the Hook)

This 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.

"All I Want for Christmas," Dirty Boyz (Dirty Bottom Corp.)

A single I found on iTunes in 2005, all this rap group 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.

"Christmas in da Hood," Young Lo (Grandstand Entertainment)

Your 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.

"Christmas Rappin'," Kurtis Blow (Mercury)

One of the earliest rap records and definitely the first rap Christmas tune, unless you count "A Visit From St. Nicholas," aka "The Night Before Christmas." Kurtis cops the lick from Chic's "Good Times" and starts testifying, and never lets up. Important from a historic point of view, but useful for holiday booty-shaking, too. If you feel like you have a rap in you, the flip side of the original 12-inch single is an instrumental version.

"Christmas In Hollis," Run DMC (A&M)

This rap tune kicks off promisingly by sampling Clarence Carter's "Back Door Santa," then we're into a funny tune about finding Santa's wallet on the street in this Queens neighborhood. Great groove, ironic for the fact that this cut from A Very Special Christmas precedes Bon Jovi's plain vanilla cover of the Carter song.

"Christmas Is," Run DMC (A&M)

This plea for the needy is on A Very Special Christmas 2, and it's not bad; an old soul groove (can't identify it, but it sounds familiar) under the rap, with a great chorus: "Give up the dough, give up the dough for Christmas, yo!" Plenty of quotes and rhymes to move it along.

Christmas Rap, various artists (Profile)

Here's a long-out-of-print budget compilation of holiday rap from the early days, put together in 1987. I haven't been able to grab one of these for myself, but given the number of folks who have tipped me to this, I figure it's worth a mention. Run DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" kicks this off, and there's also "Let the Jingle Bells Rock" by Sweet Tee, "Dana Dane Is Coming to Town" by Dana Dane, "Ghetto Santa" by Spyder D, "Christmas in the City" by King Sun-D Moet, "Chillin' With Santa" by Derek B., "He's Santa Claus" by Disco 4, "That's What I Want for Christmas" by Showboys and "A Surf M.C. New Year" by Surf MC's. Sometimes there's a used copy on Amazon. Update: Einar Hedman from Linköping, Sweden corrected the release date above, which means there might be a vinyl version of this out there somewhere too.

"Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa," De La Soul (Tommy Boy)

Great rap single from 1991 with a message that definitely clashes with the season. Millie is the daughter of the singer's social worker, suffering sexual abuse at her father's hands. Dad has a side gig as a Macy's Santa; you can see where this is going. Powerful stuff, but you might not want to hoist eggnog toasts while it's playing.

Christmas at Luke's House, various artists (Luke Records)

This 1993 effort is available in two versions, a "clean one" and a "dirty one" (called Christmas at Luke's Sex Shop), in keeping with Luke's history as the originator of 2 Live Crew's "As Nasty as You Wanna Be." The song lineups are completely different on the two; the "clean one" is pretty much 90s-style rhythm and blues with a little bit of talking in front and in the middle of the songs. Artists helping Luke out include H-Town, U-Mynd and Chris Brinson and the Gospel Music Ministry Choir. As risque as the clean one gets is "Knockin' Boots for Christmas." The tunes are mostly original, although "We Bring You Joy" swings into "The Christmas Song" and "H-Town's Coming to Town" steals liberally from the Santa Claus version of the song. I don't have a copy of the dirty version handy as of this writing, although I recall one of the songs on it is titled "Ho-Ho-Ho's" or something similar that alludes to the street name for prostitute.

Xmaz-N-The-Hood, The M (Priority)

Some old-school hip-hop on this EP from 1991, with "Chris Kringle is a Black Man," heavy on the synth bass, talking about one of the vocalist's Compton neighbors; "Ebony's a Scrooge," rapping over the riff from Johnny Taylor's "Disco Lady"; a deconstruction of Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas"; lots of ghetto talk in the disjointed title song; and "Brighter Days," a languid mid-tempo jam that alternates singing and rapping about hope for the future. If you can still find this, it'll probably be in clearance racks. Language advisory.

Quad City All-Star Christmas, various artists (Big Beat/Atlantic)

This hip-hop compilation from 1996 features more party-oriented music than a lot of rap holiday collections. There's more singing on this CD, the beats are consistent and the arrangements are tight. "Alone" by Joni featuring 24K is a medium ballad about being just that on Christmas Eve. The 69 Boyz talk about "What You Want For Christmas," which may still include a 12-disc changer but almost certainly doesn't include "nine Sega tapes." A remix of the song appears later on the disc. "Where Dey At YO!" is Knock singing about "the real men" who "don't sell drugs" and "stay home with me sometime." Big Dave and Tina reconstruct the standard "White Xmas" in their own hip-hop arrangement, and the album closes with a brief remix of it. "Da Jam" is a fast rap by UndaAged -- too fast for me to get much of the lyrics, unfortunately. "Xmas Blues" by BigTyme (no, not Dick Cheney) is a talker over a blues background. This is pretty good overall, even non hip-hop fans should be able to enjoy this.

A Carnival Christmas, Insane Clown Posse (Island)

This rap act is best known for having had a Disney-owned record company cancel its first album minutes before its scheduled release because of pressure from the usual suspects. But they survived unscathed, and this 1997 single is the proof. "Santa is a Fat Bitch" pretty much lives up to its title, with the vocalist's complaints about never getting anything for Christmas leading to threats to kill Father Christmas. Say guys, do the words "naughty and nice" mean anything to you? The band gets its just desserts in "Red Christmas," in which the singers try Santa's trip down the chimney for themselves, only to run into the real St. Nick, who ices them; this is followed by several Christmas carol parodies. These would be a lot funnier if the Posse had a little more sense of irony; the Parental Advisory sticker, meanwhile, speaks for itself.


Eras: The Beginning, The Sixties, The Seventies, The Eighties, The Nineties, The 21st Century

Genres: Reggae, Soul/R&B, Rap, Blues, Punk, Surfin' Xmas, Tropical

Novelties: Fifties and Sixties, The Seventies, The Eighties, The Nineties, The 21st Century

Compilations: Regular Comps, Charity Comps, Soundtracks

Special Reports: Recent Releases, Hanukkah, Miscellaneous