When one thinks of Christmas songs, adjectives that may come to mind are "warmth," "feelings" or, for the cynical, "treacle." None of these leap to mind as describers of rap music, generally (Lost Boyz' "Renee," hip-hop's greatest love song, aside).
Despite that, rappers have been reliably turning out Christmas songs since 1979: Some are novelties, while others fold the holiday into the lyrics so well that they no longer qualify as Yuletide-exclusives.
So how do some of hip-hop's greatest carols rank in terms of holiday spirit? In advance of Run DMC and LL Cool J's Xmas in Brooklyn show Friday, we've got the rundown:
'Christmas in Hollis' Run-DMC
Five Christmas trees
The gold standard of hip-hop carols, "Hollis" may be one of the trio's most widely-known songs. It encompasses the joy of the season while also giving the world the phrase "an ill reindeer." Returning Santa's wallet was a nice touch.
'Christmas Rappin' Kurtis Blow
Four Christmas trees
"The Breaks" might have been the song that made Blow's career, but "Christmas Rappin'" came first; Blow reportedly sold more than 400,000 copies of it, a ridiculous number for rap music in 1979. The upbeat tempo and that at-the-time-ubiquitous roller-rink vibe make it the perfect seasonal pickup.
'The Christmas Song' David Banner
Three Christmas trees
Some favorite seasonal songs have a sadder undertone to them ("Blue Christmas," anyone?), and Banner brought the struggle to the hip-hop Christmas world, with lines like "Six years old, no Christmas clothes, daddy locked up, violating parole." The solution is armed robbery.
Two Christmas trees
Originally recorded for the "Fred Claus" soundtrack (the overwhelming stench of the association loses the song one tree), "Ludacristmas" may be as well-known now as a great episode of "30 Rock." Still, that doesn't distract from Ludacris' remarkably-clean tribute to the holiday.
'Deck da Club' Ying Yang Twins
One Christmas Tree
"Deck the Halls" for the strip club, which may make for a good frat party theme, but doesn't really work for feelings of Yuletide warmth. Hearing the duo quasi-warble the line "Deck the club with piles of money" is worth a good laugh, though.
'Merry Mutha[expletive] Xmas' Eazy-E
A lump of coal
Within the first minute of the nearly six-minute (!!!) opus, Eazy-E shoots a bunch of carolers. From there, the song is a collection of changed lyrics for "Jingle Bells," "Deck the Halls" and "O Christmas Tree," among others. None of them are remotely clean enough for publication, but they are exactly what one may expect. For grinches only.
If you go: WBLS & Hot 97 Present Xmas in Brooklyn is at Barclays Center on Friday at 7:30 p.m., 620 Atlantic Ave., Fort Greene, $19.99-$225.