We all know that Christmas carols are cringy with a capital C. Anyone else remember those dreaded caroling groups showing up early on the holiday morning? Just thinking about it will give you shivers. But aside from those horrible holiday hymns, not all Christmas carols are bad.
Yes, we know that everyone loves Mariah Carey’s beloved “All I Want For Christmas.” And, while it is a classic, that’s not the Christmas carol we’re referring to. Rather, we’re talking about hip hop’s obsession with Santa Claus. If you’re as avid a fan of rap as I am, you’ll notice that this genre is intertwined with the holiday spirit, ever since Kurtis Blow released “Christmas Rappin’” in the late ‘70s. And since then there have been dozens of hip hop artists using rap to celebrate the Christmas spirit. Are all of these songs good? Hell no.
But lucky for you, we’ve weighed out the good, the bad, and the not-so-good-not-so-bad rap Christmas carols in the list below. Read on to learn the 10 best Christmas rap songs that’ll immediately put you in the holiday spirit. (And, of course, it’s ranked because how could you ever choose?)
“Christmas in Harlem” by Kanye West
Kanye West isn’t known for his holiday cheer, but this song surely makes you wonder how successful a Kanye West Christmas album could be. His beats coupled with Teyana Taylor’s verses make Christmas in Harlem a truly celebratory carol.
“Christmas Rappin’” by Kurtis Blow
You can’t talk about Christmas rap without mentioning the legendary song of the genre. Released in 1979, “Christmas Rappin’” not only made Kurtis Blow’s career but inspired the following songs on this list.
“Holiday” by Lil Nas X
What’s so great about Lil Nas X (aside from changing Hip Hop as a queer artist) is how he is versatile in his music. I mean, his first hit was a melody between rap and country. And, now he’s also released big-time Christmas bangers like “Holiday.” Check out the music video where he is, unsurprisingly, dressed as an iced-out Santa.
“St. Brink Intro” by Gucci Mane
Just the first few verses in this song, “Trappin through the snow, sellin’ nine half a bricks in four ways” solidifies this song as a hip hop Christmas carol. Not to mention, just the name of the song, which uses AAVE (African American Vernacular English) to play on words, represents our dear, old, St.Nick.
Ludacrismas by Ludacris
Are any words necessary to be said? After all, look at what the song is titled.
Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer by DMX
Though DMX may be gone, his music is still here for us to jam and celebrate too. And, what better way to honor his memory, than playing, perhaps, one of the most
Sleigh Ride by TLC
Honestly, this song is one of the trio’s sleeper hits compared to Waterfalls and Creep. But, this song’s lack of popularity has no bearing on how good of a Christmas song it is. As for why it’s good? Tune into Left Eye’s rapping verse. No explanation is necessary.
Christmas in Hollis by Run-D.M.C
Remember when we said Christmas Rapppin’ by Kurtis Blow was the rap Christmas song? Well, it has some competition with Run-D.M.C’s Christmas in Hollis. Yes, the beats are wonderful and the verses are smooth, but you know how Christmas in Hollis gives Blow’s song a run for its money? Run-D.M.C’s Christmas carol examines Hollis, Queens through metaphoric lyrics over a snappy hip hop beat. You can’t have a better Christmas song than that.
Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto by Snoop Dogg feat. Nate Dogg
It’s not uncommon for rappers to sample or remake songs from other artists, but (and this might be controversial here), not all hip hop artists are good at it. Too many times rappers have tried mixing beats but failed to create a hit. But Snoop Dogg is not one of those rappers. He successfully remade James Brown’s original into Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto, a ‘90s Christmas classic.
Merry Xmas by Fetty Wap
Fetty Wap is not a popular rapper (and I’m not saying that because I don’t like his music). Aside from Trap Queen and My Way, what is this two-hit wonder known for? Nothing! But, his lack of popularity does mean that many, including me, haven’t truly listened to his non-mainstream songs, including Merry Xmas. Listen for four minutes to Fetty Wap rapping about Christmas presents—you won’t regret it.
Melanie Curry is an Editorial Fellow for Men’s Health who specializes in culture and entertainment and has written for The List, Boston Magazine, and HelloGiggles.
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