A hip-hop Christmas: 10 of the best holiday rap tracks

Rappers have been celebrating the festive season since the 1970s

In 1996, Snoop Dogg released a Christmas song about St Nick rolling through the hood in a Cadillac. AP
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

Christmas songs aren't just confined to the pop world. Hip-hop has been celebrating the holiday since the genre's inception in the mid-1970s. From Kurtis Blow to Chance the Rapper, here are 10 of the best Christmas themed hip-hop tracks.

1. 'Christmas Rappin' by Kurtis Blow (1979)

It's one of hip-hop's first Christmas songs. A rap version of A Visit from St Nicholas, Blow made it a seasonal hit with lyrics describing Santa as "a red suited dude, with a friendly attitude and a sleigh full of goodies for the people on the block".

2. 'Santa's Rap' by The Treacherous Three (1984)

Initially appearing as a tongue-in-cheek performance in the 1984 film Beat Street, the track by the pioneering rap group works relatively well as a festive theme.

Just make sure you don't dig too deep beyond the zippy keyboards and handclaps, or you may find potent couplets exploring the holiday season from the view of disenfranchised communities.

"Man, you talk about a tree, it makes me wonder / Cause I never had a tree to put anything under,” raps Special K.

“If I ever did luck up and get a tree / There was never anything under it for me.”

3. 'Christmas in Hollis' by Run DMC (1987)

One of the biggest pop groups at the time, Run DMC was tapped to record a Christmas song for the charity album Soul Christmas. The trio explored how the season was celebrated in their neighbourhood of Queens, New York.

Judging by the lyrics it was an absolute feast: "Mom's cooking chicken and collard greens / Rice and stuffing, macaroni and cheese / And Santa put gifts under Christmas trees."

4. ‘Cold Chillin' Christmas’ by Juice Crew (1988)

Released the following holiday season after Run DMC's hit with Christmas in Hollis, the collective – featuring Big Daddy Kane, MC Shan and Roxanne Shante – tried their luck with their own holiday track.

Cold Chillin' Christmas has them recalling their favourite seasonal memories.

MC Shan's verse is a highlight that recalls running into Santa Claus driving a "Lamborghini with a spoiler kit," that came complete with "reindeer plate".

5. 'Sleigh Ride' by TLC (1993)

Released as part of a Christmas album by LaFace Records company, this uplifting song captures the spirit of a family gathering with all the different characters, banter and goodwill involved.

"Like two birds of a feather would be / So let's take the road before us / Sing a chorus or two, oh”, members T-Boz and Chilli croon. “C'mon it's lovely weather for a sleigh ride together with you.”

6. 'Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto' by Snoop Dogg (1996)

It was 1996 and Snoop Dogg was at the peak of his fame, so a Christmas song about St Nick rolling through the hood in a Cadillac made total sense.

But it is done with the right amount of humour and sincerity, with Nate Dogg's baritone sounding at its most blissful.

7. 'Ludacrismas' by Ludacris (2007)

Created for the 2007 film Fred Claus, the track is basically Ludacris's wish list of Christmas presents he hopes to receive.

"Tell Santa Claus to bring a 10-million-dollar check / So I could spread a little cheer, fly a couple leers," Ludacris raps.

"Tell him I need a jacket, new Jordans and a Xbox / New suits for church and a couple pairs of dress socks."

8. 'Christmas In Harlem' by Kanye West, featuring Teyana Taylor and Cyhi the Prynce (2010)

A lovely slice of soulful hip-hop, West surrounds himself with a great list of collaborators including rapper Cyhi the Prynce and RnB singers Teyana Taylor and Musiq Soulchild.

Each artist recalls their Christmas Day spent at home with family or working on the road.

The gritty, extended version, has a bumper list of rappers including Pusha T, Cam’Ron, Jim Jones and Big Sean.

9. 'Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer' by DMX (2012)

Taken from an impromptu performance as part of a US radio interview, DMX brought his signature gravelly drawl and barks to this seasonal classic.

It may have been recorded as a bit of a joke, but the song grew to become a mini viral sensation and confirmed why the troubled rapper is so well loved by his fans and peers.

10. 'Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama' by Chance The Rapper & Jeremih (2016)

A key track from duo's Christmas themed mixtape, Merry Christmas Lil' Mama is a joyous and superbly constructed track. The lyrical nods to the festive season is mixed with great production, with dollops of gospel, soul and electronica.