Since rap music was birthed in the Bronx in the 1970s, it has had a long-running history with the Christmas season. Some of rap's greatest stars have shown their holiday cheer by dropping some lyrics inspired by the holiday season. Whether it's having a good time at a Christmas party or critiquing capitalism, Hip Hop has contributed much to Christmas music.
While classics such as Donny Hathaway’s “This Christmas,” The Jackson 5’s “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” The Temptations' “Silent Night,” Mariah Carey’s “All Want For Christmas,” and several others will always remain staples around the holidays, to make your music selection complete, you need some bars to go with eggnog and other Christmas traditions.
To add some hip hop vibes to “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year,” here at 10 Christmas rap songs to add to your holiday playlist.
Kurtis Blow, “Christmas Rappin” (1979)
The legendary Kurtis Blow provided the template by becoming the first rap superstar but with "Christmas Rappin’" he set the stage for Hip Hop’s connection to the holiday season. Produced by Robert Ford and J.B. Moore, the track tells the story of Santa stopping by a house party and loving the vibes. “Christmas Rappin” was Blow’s debut single and went on to sell 400,000 copies, becoming one of rap’s first successful singles. Proving the song’s staying power, R&B group Next sampled the song "Too Close," in 1998, which went to #1 in the US for five weeks. Without question, “Christmas Rappin” is the gold standard for Christmas rap songs.
Lil Nas X, “Holiday” (2020)
No modern artist can take it to the next level quite like Lil Nas X and on “Holiday” he brings all the Christmas vibes. In the festive video, Lil Nas X is dressed as a futuristic Santa Claus at the North Pole toy factory on Christmas Eve. Instead of a traditional sleigh, he flies the sky in a red sports car, pulled along by robotic reindeer, in his one-of-a-kind ensemble. Giving Christmas a brand-new twist, Nas X slays with “Holiday.”
The Treacherous Three, “Santa’s Rap” (1984)
While most songs celebrate the joys of Christmas time, The Treacherous Three’s (Kool Moe Dee, LA Sunshine, Special K, along with a young Doug E Fresh) “Santa’s Rap” zeros in on the hard times of the holiday season. Appearing on the soundtrack of the classic film Beat Street, “Santa’s Rap” accuses St. Nick of neglecting the hood where the most Christmas cheer is needed. Kool Moe Dee raps, “And I ain't even got a chimney for you to come down/So ain't no need for you to be coming around/Cause the last so-called Santa that came in with a sack/Wasn't giving out presents he was taking them back.” “Santa’s Rap" is an often overlooked gem in the Christmas rap song canon.
Run-DMC, “Christmas In Hollis” (1987)
In 1987, Bill Adler was the head of PR at Def Jam and he asked Run-DMC to come up with a Christmas song for a charity album. The group reluctantly said yes to the proposal. In an interview with EBONY, Rev.Run recalled creating the song. “I got a call from a Very Special Christmas and they wanted us to do a Christmas record. I was like, “I can't sing ''Silent Night” or “The Christmas Song” by Nat King Cole, so I had to pull out a pen and start writing. One day it just flowed out of me from heaven. When I finished, I dropped the pen, called them back, and said, “I'm finished.” DMC added his lyrics and Jay had the beat. 35 years later, it’s a classic.” The iconic trio added a Christmas classic to their legendary discography.
TLC, “Sleigh Ride” (1992)
The trailblazing trio TLC gave the world a Christmas standard with “Sleigh Ride.” Produced by Organized Noize and co-produced by their then-manager Pebbles, TLC’s version is nothing like the original and almost 30 years later we’re still here for it. The song holds the distinction of being featured on two soundtracks, Home Alone 2 and A LaFace Family Christmas. As the most successful girl group ever, T-Boz, Chilli, and Left Eye created a bona fide holiday classic solidifying their iconic status.
Outkast, "Player's Ball" (1993)
Many may not be aware that Outkast's debut song was an ode to Christmas time in Atlanta. Tasked by LaFace co-founder L.A. Reid to contribute to the compilation album, A LaFace Family Christmas, the dynamic duo feared that their careers would not get off the ground with Christmas a song. But with “Player’s Ball," they put their unique spin on the theme of Christmas with the signature, soulful production of Organized Noize, and the rest is history. The song peaked at #37 on the Billboard Hot 100 and would become one of Outkast's signature songs
Rev. Run and the Christmas All-Stars featuring Mase, Puff Daddy, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Salt-n-Pepa, Onyx, and Keith Murray “Santa Baby” (1997)
10 years after releasing “Christmas in Hollis,” Rev. Run was back with a star-studded lineup to remix “Santa Baby.” Featuring the likes of Mase, Puff Daddy, Snoop Doggy Dogg, Salt-n-Pepa, Onyx, and Keith Murray, the song explores the meaning of Christmas while throwing some shade at Kris Kringle. Mase raps, "When there's a Christmas uptown/Ain't no chimney for Santa to come down." Now that's real talk.
DMX “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” (2012)
The late DMX was regarded as one the hardest MCs ever. So when the “Dog” remixed “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” it was totally unexpected and loved at the same time. In an impromptu performance on New York City’s Power 105, DMX gave a thrilling acapella version of the holiday standard and it has become one of the most recognized renditions of the song, After the clip went viral in 2012, DMX released an official recording in 2017.
Jim Jones featuring Stack Bundles and JR Writer "Ballin On Xmas" (2006)
Reworking Run-DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis,” “Ballin’ On X-Mas” features Jim Jones with Stack Bundles and JR Writer. The Dipset crews show the world how holiday cheer is spread in Harlem. Jones raps, “They say Santa know you good or you bad/Gotta make an exception—we in the hood, living fast.” For good measure, Jones even interpolates “Jingle Bells” on the song’s hook as only he can.
Ludacris "Ludacrismas" (2007)
Ludacris gave his take on Christmas with “Ludacrismas” Appearing on the Fred Claus Soundtrack and sampling "Here Comes Santa Claus," Luda has an entire list that expects Santa to bring but it’s a little unorthodox, to say the least. “Tell Santa Claus to bring a ten million dollar check/So I could spread a little cheer/Fly a couple leers/Eat a little chicken, drink a couple beers/Kick back and just chill like a player would do,” he raps. Pulling double duty, Luda not only contributed to the soundtrack but he had a cameo in the film.