While it’s often frowned upon to “re-gift” something this time of year (although I swear my preschool-aged cousins will love the copy of Jock Jams Volume 2 and VHS of Darrin’s Dance Grooves I “got” them) sometimes the rules of hip-hop allow us to get these gifts paid forward with a twist that makes their “present” incarnation as unique as a snowflake. Yes, sampling a Christmas song to make a new song is a tradition that’s kept many seasonal classics alive for generations to come. It’s in the spirit of re-giving that we bring to you our five favorite Christmas song samples.
Run-DMC – “Christmas in Hollis” 1987
For those of us who can remember a time when hip-hop wasn’t remotely mainstreamed, Run-DMC’s “Christmas in Hollis” stands out as the one song our parents would allow us to play from there stereo system around the holidays. Along with being an absolute seasonal classic, “Christmas in Hollis” allows itself to be shuffled into any holiday playlist thanks to sampling the smooth favorite Clarence Carter’s “Back Door Santa.” It’s precisely this link that connect Die Hard to Jingle All the Way.
De La Soul – “Simply” 2001
Among the most dated and hated holiday regulars is Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmastime.” I’d like to point out that we at the Voice still feel like children when we hear those warmly familiar, albeit primitive synths that start it up. Yet, even the most jaded holiday hater would still nod their head to the late-era non-denominational De La Soul cut “Simply.” Also worth hearing that samples it is the highlight of the first Dipset Christmas album “Dipset X-mas Time.”
Ras Kass – “Jack Frost” 1995
Ever heard Ras Kass’ underground rap standard “Nature of the Threat” and wanted something as conspiracy-laden and paranoid for the holidays? You’re in luck as jolly ol’ Saint Kass gave us “Jack Frost.” The Christmas Carol surrounding its origin tells of Kass allegedly being upset with his label’s ability to clear samples and thus masterfully jacking Nat King Cole’s “The Christmas Song” over the Audio Two “Top Billin” break for a slightly more dour bit of holiday cheer.
Princess Superstar – “I Hope I Sell a Lot of Records at Christmastime” 2000
Princess Superstar’s expressed her love for the holidays over the years, most recently with “XMas Swagger.” But her first expression of seasonal sentimentality came from her 2000 track “I Hope I Sell a Lot of Records at Christmastime.” Produced by Prince Paul, the tracks use of the Bill Pursell instrumental “Our Winter Love” captures that Christmas ambiance perfectly as Superstar laments over what it was like moving Christmas units in the days of physical media.
Metermaids – “Santa Panned Our Album On His Blog” 2011
Updating us to the internet age is Brooklyn rap duo the Metermaids’ “Santa Panned Our Album on His Blog.” The cracked chopping of Stevie Wonder’s “The Christmas Song” makes for a perfect backdrop for joyfully sprinkling sour grapes into a self-deprecating Christmas. While it paints Jolly Ol St. Nick’s taste in hip-hop as leaving something to be desired, we like to think his choices that year were due to coming down with a case of 2011’s most contagious illness, Bieber Fever.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 25, 2013