Like the sights and sounds of hip-hop, Christmas is around the corner and more than likely, on your radio too. For most people, “Deck the Halls” and pop variations of “Jingle Bells” are the holiday carols of choice, but if you’re a rap fan, you might be more “Christmas in Harlem” than you are “Silent Night.” And considering you get to listen to Yeezy rap about the holidays, who could blame you?
Christmas rap songs are one of the most unique traditions in America because the street life from which they were carved couldn’t be more at odds with the hot cocoa-drenched, all-American archetypes many of us have been white-fenced into. Christmas rap often subverts popular holiday customs and mythologies. In the popular Christmas canon, St. Nick lands in the South Pacific before he goes anywhere else, but if you let Snoop Dogg tell it, “Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto.” If you’re a typical American, Dec. 25 might mean eating pumpkin pie and pretending to laugh at the jokes your grandparents tell you. If you’re OutKast, it means traveling to the annual baller’s reunion at the “Player’s Ball.”
Over the years, some of the rap game’s biggest names have made Christmas songs to tell their stories, which exist pretty far outside of the mainstream’s imagination. Today, we take a look at the 20 of the best. Peep our list for yourself below.