Merry Hip-Hop Christmas Motherf#cK3R$!

There’s a famous record store in California called Ameoba Records that is known for its extensive music and DVD collection. The one in Hollywood happens to be near my movie theater of choice, so when I was killing some time before going to said movie theater recently, I walked around Ameoba and stumbled into the holiday music section. The collections isn’t as large compared to all the other sections in the store, but the fact that they have to divide it up into genre and not just by artists should tell you that this wasn’t a normal Trans Siberian Orchestra and Vince Garabaldi Trio situation. No, Ameoba had an entire Hip-Hop and R&B holiday music section which I immediately scoured through. Did I expect Whitney Houston? Sure. Destiny’s Child? OK. But did I ever think this particular CD even existed?photo-dec-08-6-42-13-pmphoto-dec-08-6-42-18-pm

Short answer: nope. Absolutely not. You’re telling me a TWO CD compilation featuring what seems to be a line-up of stars who peaked in 2005 recorded Christmas specific tracks for an album that has cover art made with Microsoft Word Art is for sale?! Because I’m a cheapo, I swiftly snapped these pix and noted to look it up on Spotify later. And boy or boy did it turn out to be gold indeed. The very first line of the entire album is said by Cam’Ron (of Hey Ma fame), and he yells out, “Merry Christmas motherfuckers!” Honestly, how can you stop there. I had to listen to the entire thing. You can stream the entire album here, but I’m selecting a few standout “favorites” from this gem of an album to spread the holiday cheer. Enjoy, bitchez!

Jingle Bells, Shotgun Shells by Onyx

Right off the bat, Onyx declares he hates Christmas, which for a Christmas album is a pretty bold move. Or gangster move, if you will. In fact, the entire song is a gangster rap song, except with a few key Christmas phrases thrown in there.

Other key lyrics: “Fuck Christmas, fuck all holidays/I’m the grinch bitch, got a new hot plate”… “Jingle Bells, Shotgun shells, n***az get shot every day, hey!”

“Deck the Halls with weed and Henny (*in the background* Black Santa!)… Y’all really think Santa tryna come out to the ‘hood? Santa ain’t comin’ out here. This is Oakland. Santa ain’t tryna get shot” – Deck the Halls by Luniz

 Christmas Treez by Baby Bash

Spoiler alert kids – “Christmas Treez” is code word for weed. But the gag is that the song’s not even really about smoking weed. It’s about fucking bitches. While high. That’s right. Because nothing says, “welcome baby Jesus” like the phrase “pearl necklace”. They just referenced Netflix and apparently this is a new release. A 2016 RELEASE. I AM SHOCKED.

Other key lyrics: “She give me that XXX from Texas/A blessed bitch/Over the next bitch/Man eat her for breakfast.”

It’s a real shock to the system when R&B group Az Yet starts singing Angels We Have Heard on High in all earnestness.

Chingy’s Christmas by Chingy

Who knew the first refreshing song on this album would be from Chingy? He actually is approaching the song with a story, and a story of philanthropy none the less! He’s “got a bag of goodies for all y’all” and gonna “make it rain gifts like Santa Claus”. Truly inspirational. And if you’re wondering what happened to Chingy, you’re not the only one.

Kb Christmas Delight by Kurtis Blow

It’s really throwing me off that this album was made this year. I legit thought this was from 2005. So hearing references like Netflix are jarring. In this song, KB starts namedropping rappers coming to his Christmas party, like Snoop and Rev Run from Run DMC. But what’s even more jarring is when when he mentions that Kim and Kanye roll up in the party.. Also, I’m not a Kurtis Blow aficionado or anything, but do his songs all sound the same?

Other key lyrics: “Ring ring at the door again, in walks Kanye and Kim/Don’t let the paparazzi in, only hip-hop fam and friends/Knock Knock who will we see? Beyonce and Jay Z/B and Jay Z came by just to party with me/No shade we ain’t sipping tea”

Surviving Christmas by Kool Moe Dee

Straight up the most depressing Christmas song I’ve ever heard. Including that Christmas Shoes one. You’ve just got to listen to this one.

The placement of these songs is so wrong. It’s a mixtape gone horribly wrong.

Ho Ho Ho (Dirty Christmas) by Ying Yang Twins

When I first picked this lost gem of an album up, the one track that really stood out to me was this one titled Ho Ho Ho (Dirty Christmas). Judging by the parenthetical addendum as well as the fact that it was by Whisper Song stars the Ying Yang Twins, I deduced the title wasn’t referring to Santa’s favorite phrase. And man oh man. Was I wrong. First of all, the hook is to the tune of Frére Jacques, but the lyrics are now: “Merry Christmas, Merry Christmas/Ho Ho Ho/Ho Ho Ho/ Santa where my presents? Santa where my presents?/I’ve been good! I’ve been good!” And while a “ho” is mentioned in the beginning, it’s mostly about wanting presents? I don’t know what to do with this.

Other key lyrics: “Kids runnin’ around/playing with all their toys/You better sit your ass down/Makin’ all that noise/Take your ass outside/And ride that bike/ But your ass better come in/When that light come on”

“Macy’s got a black santa on the sixth floor!” Black Santa Clauz

It’s Still Christmas by Celly Cel

If there’s anything I’ve learned from this album is that Santa gives presents that all these rappers want, and also it all happens in the hood. In this song, we should all keep the chorus in mind when Dec. 25th comes round this year: “If we don’t get what we want/It’s still Christmas/Let the haters hate/We gon’ celebrate

Other key lyrics: “Spoiled little kids get pissed, if they don’t get everything on they’re list/Girlfriend’s mad cuz she didn’t get a ring/Boyfriend mad cuz she joined another team.”

I Can’t Wait Til Christmas by The Force MD’s sounds like a song made specifically for JCPenney TV commercials

Silent Night by J-Kwon

For a song that’s all about peace and stillness, J-Kwon’s version begins with a non-peaceful chant of “Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night Silent Night”

Other key lyrics: “Let my girlfriend trip she don’t get no gifts today”

A sincere version of What Child Is This? shouldn’t be on the same album as “Merry Christmas motherfuckers”, right? It’s completely tone deaf.

It’s Christmas by Trick Daddy

I… kind of like this one? It’s a catchy chorus? I’ve been listening to this album for too long. IT’S TWO CDS WORTH OF MUSIC!

Other key lyrics: “I’m dancing with a fat girl but I can’t kiss her though” what are you talking about

And we’re back to the most non-merry version of Jingle Bells I’ve every heard.

Santa Baby by Khia

The producers of this album decided the best move to end this ridiculous record was to close it with a version of Santa Baby by Khia, who you might know from her work on My Neck, My Back. I feared she would turn this song too sexual, but thank God she didn’t. That aside… it’s still not good.

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Playlist of the Month: Christmas Songs by Jewish Artists

Hanukkah 2015 is already in the books. That means that from this point onward, people of all religions can focus on that other December holiday: Christmas. Sure, if we’re getting technical about it Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus – but it’s also turned into a cultural celebration where we put our differences aside and eat cutout cookies, decorate trees, and jam out to the likes of Barbra Streisand and Amy Winehouse. Who better to sing Happy Birthday to one of the most famous Jewish babies in the world?

Traci’s Picks

The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Mel Torme and Judy Garland

This tune is one of the iconic Christmas songs we all know and love, but did you known it was written by two Jews? Mel Torme and Bob Wells wrote it in 1945 in the middle of summer in an effort to cool down. Truth. Bob was randomly writing down wintery things on a notepad like, “Yuletide carols” and “Jackfrost” and “folks dressed up like Eskimos” because he was so damn hot, but when Mel (who was 19 at the time) took a look at it he saw them as song lyrics. The rest is history. This version features Mel on Judy Garland’s self-titled TV show, and also includes a sly Over the Rainbow ref. This is the kind of song that just warms your heart.

Happy Xmas (War is Over)
Adam Levine & Sara Bareilles

Many people have covered John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s iconic Christmas protest song, but there’s something special about the pairing of Adam and Sara. Adam has the right range for it, while Sara can literally sing anything and I’d be on board.

This Christmas
Carole King

This Christmas is one of my favorite modern day holiday jamz. Maybe it’s because I grew up listening to Platinum Christmas and heard R&B singer Joe’s version on repeat, but I associate this with pop and R&B acts, not folky types like Carole King. But that’s what makes me love this version that much more. She gives it a lived in, Tapestry quality to it that makes you want to curl up by the fire and drink hot cocoa.

From a Distance (Christmas version)
Bette Midler

Listen up. Sometimes I enjoy turning up to the easy listening radio station. I can enjoy a good Kenny G tune or Celine Dion power ballad every once in a while. I can also appreciate Bette Midler and her classic tune From a Distance. BUT, in doing research for this post, I found out she made an alternative Christmas version that is maybe even better than the OG? Maybe. But the Queen of the Jews singing “Joy to the World” at the end is the best. The best.

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Amy Winehouse

No bit zone – I really think Amy would’ve made an amazing Christmas/holiday album. Her voice is already astounding, but her spin on classic songs would’ve been such a hit.

Molly’s Picks

Baby It’s Cold Outside
Idina Menzel and Michael Buble

Yes, this song is creepy, but this version subs out some of the skeevier lyrics, making it my favorite rendition.

It was only a matter of time before Idina Menzel released a Christmas album. This particular song is really just a winter song, but there are plenty of Christmas-specific tracks on the album.

White Christmas
Barbra Streisand

How about a two-fer: when he wrote White Christmas, Irving Berlin, nee Israel Baline, made the most important Jewish contribution to the Christmas holiday since the Virgin Mary. Then Barbra Streisand covered it, and while nobody, not even Babs, is Bing Crosby, this is still pretty darn wonderful.

Must Be Santa
Bob Dylan

If you ever doubt the extent to which Bob Dylan DGAF, just watch this video.

Christmas Must Be Tonight
The Band

Two things you may not have known: The Band performs a good Christmas song, and Robbie Robertson is Jewish.

Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
The Ramones

This is my second-favorite song about sparring on Christmas (after the fantastic Fairytale of New York) – and it proves that you don’t have to grow up celebrating Christmas to know that it’s a holiday that sparks a lot of arguments.

A Definitive Ranking of the songs on Platinum Christmas

The year is 2000. I graduated 8th grade and met Molly in high school for the first time. We survived Y2K. George Dubya was elected President for the first time. American Beauty won Best Picture at the Oscars.  Ian ‘Thorpedo’ Thorpe dominated in his native Australia during the Sydney summer Olympics. Joey chose Pacey over that other dude in the Dawson’s Creek series finale. TRL (Total Request Live, duh) was at the height of its popularity. This was the year of …Oops I Did It Again, The Real Slim Shady, ‘N Sync vs. BSB. Pop music was alive and well, and being a 14-year-old teenybopper, I soaked it all in.

The folks over at Jive Records, which was home to a lot of the pop acts featured on TRL, decided to capitalize on this and make a compilation album for the holidays called Platinum Christmas. If you shared any of the same musical tastes as I did, you remember this album clearly. My Christmas music collection was sparse at the time, and rather embarrassing to be quite honest. But I played this album on my boom box for hours. I would make my parents play it in the car, so listening to a lot of these songs remind me of sitting in the backseat, staring out the window and gazing at the piles and piles of snow we passed by.

So in honor of the holiday season, I’ve revisited one of the most nostalgic albums from my youth, and ranked each song by order of import/how good it is. Please tell me I’m not the only person who played this on repeat! And immediately skipped over Santana!

{16} Posada (Pilgrimage To Bethlehem) by Santana

In the summer of ’99, I became obsessed with Smooth by Rob Thomas and Carlos Santana. Like, I bought the CD single, and put that shit on repeat with no end in sight. Because I didn’t know any better, I thought I would just automatically love all of Carlos Santana’s music. Yeah, I was a teenage girl into the Backstreet Boys, someone should’ve told me I wouldn’t like listening to the Latin-inspired blues guitar stylings of Santana.

{15} My Gift to You by Donell Jones

This song sounds like one of the B-Side tracks off a Time Life R&B/Soul collection comprised of 10 CDs.

{14} Silent Night / Noche de Paz by Christina Aguilera

Listen, I owned Xtina’s My Kind of Christmas album, and this song wasn’t on it. Because it’s boring. Literally every song on her own record is better than this one.

{13} Christmas Day by Dido

I never really got into Dido, mainly because her voice annoyed me. But apparently Dido’s been busy releasing new music since 2000, and none of it involves collaborations with Eminem.

{12}  The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting On An Open Fire) by Toni Braxton

I feel like I only really like Toni Braxton’s voice when it’s strictly in the confines of Un-Break My Heart or I Get So High. If I hear it in any other song, I’m not into it. Exhibit A.

{11} Little Drummer Boy by Jars Of Clay

I went through a period of time in my life, albeit brief, where I was super into Christian music. Jars of Clay is one of the big names in that genre (and also some of the guys are from our hometown of Rochester) so I got “excited” when I saw they were on this album. Their version of Little Drummer Boy is real chill, the kind of song that you probably listen to while watching fire crackle in your fireplace.

{10} Christmas Time by Backstreet Boys

As a self-professed BSB fan, I am the first to admit that isn’t the best Christmas or BSB song in their catalogue (If you want a better one by them, listen to this). At the time this song was released, I was in full BSB fangirl mode – I even remember calling into the local Top 40 radio station back home and asking them to play the song, even when it really wasn’t a single? I can’t even recall if they obliged me or not. The point is that although my love for them knows no bounds, I usually only listen to about a minute or two before skipping to the next song.

{9} World Christmas by R. Kelly

Controversies and weird shit aside, I actually do appreciate R. Kelly and his voice. Every time I hear this, I think ‘UGH’ but then it gets to the chorus and I’m hooked.

{8} Grown-Up Christmas List by Monica

While this is a popular Christmas tune, I think this was the first time I had ever really paid attention. Monica, while she doesn’t have to belt-iest or most impressive voice, it’s smooth and pure, and that’s what makes her version of this song so great.

{7} Sleigh Ride by TLC

If you want a never-heard before track by classic TLC, you need to listen to this. Everything about it screams 90s/early 00s, and it’s fantastic. T-Boz’s distinguishable voice, Chili’s R&B riffs, and the magic that is Left Eye’s raps is all featured in this track. Not to mention they managed to make a classic Christmas tune sound like an original. Not many artists can do that without coming off as trying too hard.

{6} I Don’t Wanna Spend One More Christmas Without You by ‘N Sync

As previously mentioned, I was a BSB fan. Also as previously mentioned, 2000 was the height of the BSB vs. ‘N Sync rivalry. And while I wasn’t as intense as some girls, I did refuse to listen to any ‘N STINK songs. I changed the radio station anytime they came on, and silently seethed in dance class the day my teacher played the entire No Strings Attached album during warmups. I still have only heard Bye Bye Bye a limited amount of times. So, when Platinum Christmas was on repeat back in Y2K, I promptly pressed fast forward on my CD player. Years later, I calmed it down a bit, and actually listened to this song. It’s great, y’all. But hey, let’s not get crazy. BSB 4 Evr.

{5} Who Would Imagine a King by Whitney Houston

Boy, do I miss 80s/90s Whitney. This particular song was also on the soundtrack to her movie The Preacher’s Wife, and it shows off her gorgeous voice in a more religious setting, and the lack of excessive riffs is exactly what the song needed (or didn’t need). This song is a reminder why Whit became a music icon in the first place.

{4} Christmas Song by Dave Matthews

I don’t know about you guys, but in Rochester, I feel like Dave Matthews Band was like THE band to be into if you were one of those people that was granola-y and wore hoodies like this. And in usual DMB fashion, this track was recorded live, and just hearing the screams in the background reminds me of all the dudes wearing those baja hoodies and flip flops and Grateful Dead tye dye t-shirts. But I mean, great song.

{3} Merry X-Mas Everybody by Steps

2000 was also the year I went to London/UK/Europe for the first time, and I was into this phase of being into a lot of British pop acts, because I wanted to seem cool, I guess? Like I was super into Westlife, BBMak, Craig David, S Club 7, etc. Steps was a S Club 7-like band that was comprised of five guys and gals and really big in the UK. While I did get into Steps a little, it was really just this song that I still sometimes listen to on my current Christmas rotation.

{2} This Christmas by Joe

Look, no one can touch Donny Hathaway’s OG version, but Joe is pretty close. While others have tried, I feel like Joe is the only one who can sing it like Donny, but not actually be Donny or copy his every note.

{1} My Only Wish (This Year) by Britney Spears

By far, this is the best song on Platinum Christmas, and worth the price of the entire CD just for this song. Brit hadn’t released any holiday songs up to that time, and again, she was at the height of her popularity (…Oops era, remember) so this song was like a Christmas gift in and of itself. It’s an original song, which is a welcome respite from the usual Christmas music catalogue played on soft rock radio stations during the holidays, and it’s just fun. It’s upbeat and makes you want to dance around the Christmas tree while eating cookies and watching the snow fall outside. In fact, in college, my friend and I even made up a dance – quite literally made up a dance on the spot – to this song and the non-impressive moves were the highlight of the holiday season every year.

 

Playlist of the Month: A Very Cookies + Sangria Christmas

Can you believe that Christmas is just DAYS away, you guys??? Unless you’re Jewish, or celebrate Kwanzaa or are the Grinch, so this doesn’t really apply to you. For this month’s playlist, the last and final one of 2013, we decided to stick with a traditional theme and go with our favorite holiday songs. I’m sure by now you’ve heard plenty of them on rotation already, but what’s a few more? Happy listening! And Merry Christmas/Happy Belated Hanukkah/Happy Kwanzaa/Happy December to all!!!

Click here to listen to the entire playlist on Spotify!
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Traci’s Picks

If Everyday Could Be Christmas – 98 Degrees

I’m warning y’all now, my portion of the playlist will be pop heavy and seem like a tween in 2000 made it. Mainly because I still feel like I am. I’m starting off with 98 Degrees, because I think this album was overlooked by a lot of people (I don’t blame you), but I think it’s actually their second best album out of anything they’ve ever released. Their strong suit was always their acappella skills, and it’s prominently shown in this song.

(PS: That video is ridic but the only version I could find!)

Maybe This Christmas – Ron Sexsmith

Anyone out there celebrate Chrismukkah? Anyone out there celebrate Christmukkah because of Seth Cohen? Well we can thank our fave faux Newport Beach resident for bringing that term into our lives, and we can also thank The OC for bringing great songs into our lives. Music was always an integral part of the show, and come Chrismukkah time, it was no different. I’ve been listening to this song ever since it was on one of the holiday eps and it never gets old.

Last Christmas – Glee Cast Version

Last Christmas is possibly my favorite modern day holiday song, and obviously many artists have covered it. I opted to choose this song featuring Lea Michele and Cory Monteith. I’ve never been a real hard core fan of the show, but for some reason his death really got to me and still gets me to this day. But it’s nice to know his talent and legacy will live on through the show and its music.

My Only Wish (This Year) – Britney Spears

This song was featured on the Platinum Christmas album which was released in 2000. For those who didn’t grow up listening to this like I did, it featured the biggest names in pop music including my beloved BSB, ‘N Sync, Christina Aguilera, TLC, Monica and more. I personally think this track by Brit Brit is one of her best in general, it’s just so fun and uplifting and you can’t help but dance to it. Speaking of dance to it, my friend and I may or may not have made up a ridiculous dance to this song in college. Private viewings available for a fee.

What Christmas Means to Me – Hanson

Snowed In. Classic Christmas album of the 90s and beyond. Zak sounds like a baby here, but hey, they still sound better than I ever did as a teenager.

*Ed. Note: We usually pick 5 songs each, but I couldn’t decide, so here are two bonus songs for as your Christmas bonus this year 🙂

It’s Christmas Time Again – Backstreet Boys

I like the Backstreet Boys and you can’t stop me from putting them on this list. So suck it. HAPPY HOLIDAYS!!

Underneath the Tree – Kelly Clarkson

It’s about time KC did a Christmas album and her lead single is reminiscent of Mariah’s All I Want for Christmas is You. Although it’s nowhere near the popularity of MC, Kelly is giving her a run for her money with this jam.

Molly’s Picks

I Wish It Was Christmas Today by Horatio Sanz, Jimmy Fallon, Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan

In the 2000 years of Christmas songs, is this really one of the best EVER? If you go by the giddy Christmas-y feeling you get every time it airs on the SNL Christmas episode, maybe it is. The great thing about this song – and I’d say this of the original SNL cast performing Winter Wonderland as well – is that while it somewhat pokes fun at stupid Christmas songs, it does so without being nasty or cynical. It’s pure holiday happiness.

All I Want For Christmas Is You by Mariah Carey

90s kids know what I’m talking about. If you can, get your hands on All I Want For Christmas Is You (Extra Festive). How can you make this song MORE festive, you may ask? Well,  add some bells and shit and make the beginning of it sound like a song from Beauty And The Beast: The Musical. By the way, of course Ariana Grande has covered this and of course it’s amazing.

Once In Royal David’s City by Sufjan Stevens (cover)

I won’t fill the playlist with them, but my real favorite Christmas songs are all traditional hymns that are a little less common than Silent Night and Adeste Fidelis. So, imagine my delight that Sufjan Stevens has covered Lo How A Rose E’er Blooming, The Friendly Beasts, Once In Royal David’s City, Bring A Torch Jeanette, Isabella, and I Saw Three Ships

The Rebel Jesus by Jackson Browne

Leave it to Jackson Browne to cut through all of the sap and remind us what we message we really should be taking from the Christmas story.

Fairytale of New York by The Pogues

Sometimes you need a Christmas song with lyrics like  “you’re a bum, you’re a punk/ you’re an old slut on junk”.” Besides, I’m making my list first and in the spirit of the holiday, I should probably leave some of the White Christmas/Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas-like classics for my friend.