Christmas songs and albums, pretty frequent indulgences in other genres of pop music, have never caught on in hip-hop, presumably ’cause it’s hard to be gangsta while you’re giving out gifts. So it didn’t take much for yesterday’s new Kanye track, “Christmas in Harlem,” to make this long-time-coming list of the Top 6 rap Christmas songs (six of ‘em because, well, honestly, there are only like seven from which to choose). Here they are, except the really bad one, in order from worst to best.
6. “Christmas in Hollis” by Run DMC: So silly, so catchy. Also, dogs in reindeer costumes never get old, only cuter.
5. “Christmas in Harlem” by Kanye West featuring CyHi Da Prynce and Teyana Taylor: Neither parodically sentimental (see above), nor depressingly dire (see below), Kanye’s is the rare rap Christmas song that you might actually get away with playing for your family on Christmas Day, which I guess could be a compliment or a complaint depending on your feelings re: the domestication of rap. (download here)
4. “Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto” by Snoop Dogg: There should be a disclaimer at the beginning of the video for this mostly bleak, fleetingly optimistic song: “Friends don’t let friends drive magic flying Impalas through densely populated cities while high on Cali candy cane.”
3. “Millie Pulled a Pistol on Santa” by De La Soul: Christmas is more the setting than the subject of this sad story of incest, rape, murder and generally all the things we’d rather not think about ever, especially during the holidays. It’s also probably the best actual song on this list.
2. “Merry Muthafuckin’ Christmas” by Eazy-E: The best thing about this song (and there are a lot to choose from) is how Eazy and his posse manage to offer their unique take on almost every well-known Christmas carol as they goes. For instance: “On the third day of Christmas my homeboys gave to me: three pounds of indo, two birds of cocaine, and an A-muthafuckin-K.”
1. “Christmas Rappin” by Kurtis Blow: The first is still the best, and this 8-minute epic from 1979 will totally rock the stocking stuffers off your holiday party any day.