Compilations

Compilation Review – Christmas Rap

Year of Release: 1987

Record Label: Profile Records

Merry Christmas, people. Here I am in my final review for this year’s Christmas/Holiday special. I couldn’t get some albums that I was thinking of reviewing in time, but I did get this one in time, however, so I figured why not close it out with a bang.

This may be the oldest album that I have reviewed thus far, and I know it won’t be my last, either. I also believe that this may be the very first Christmas-themed hip-hop album. So let’s get to it.

The first song on this album is “Christmas in Hollis” from Run-DMC. This may have been one of the better known Christmas rap songs. Hell, it was played in Die Hard, which was fitting in some areas depending on which way you look at it. Run-DMC were definitely big in the 1980’s, and it was actually a catchy tune that could get you in the spirit, especially with the lyrics in the song. I am not sure if I could say the same thing about the following track, “Let the Jingle Bells Rock” from Sweet Tee, however. I am a little unfamiliar with her and while she didn’t do a bad job in her delivery in her song, the lyrical content was a little more to be desired. For example, part of the chorus, which went, “What? You didn’t know didn’t know Christmas went hip-hop? Check the clock, and let the jingle bells rock,” got a little old fast. It wasn’t terrible, but it got repetitive. Though I will say that she did well in the delivery of her rapping.

As far as others go, one that was actually decent was “Dana Dane is Coming to Town,” from, you guessed, Dana Dane. I know that a lot of people had said that he bit Slick Rick’s style back in the day, not to mention that he used a fake British accent, despite the two being friends, but regardless of that, he still did a good job on the song. It was a silly track, but it’s definitely one that stands out in some ways.

However, the rest of the album is filled with some people whom I had never heard of. One track that kind of got my head bumping was “Christmas in the City” from King Sun-D Moet, which had an interesting sample of “Silver Bells” in the beat. He didn’t do badly on the lyrics, either. The same could be said about “Chillin’ with Santa” from Derek B, which had a sample of “Jingle Bells.” It was a fun track. However, “He’s Santa Claus” from Disco 4 was another track that had a “Jingle Bells” sample, but it had more of a synthesized beat to it and it was kind of cheesy.

Then you had some tracks that could have better. One good example was Spyder-D’s “Ghetto Christmas,” which made me feel that I was listening to some who was a wannabe of Kool Moe Dee, with a touch of Ice-T thrown in. “That’s What I Want For Christmas” didn’t need to be as long as it was, nor did it need a sample of “White Christmas.” It would be simple just to say that it was not a good song, but there was more to it. I didn’t mind the rapping, but really, it was not a great track that can be skipped. The final track on the album was more or less a mixed bag, as the Surf MC’s had their track with a synthesized beat that overshadowed the lyrical content. The beat was good, but the same cannot be said about the lyrics.

Overall, this album was a mixed bag. The first few tracks were more or less the best ones, while the final few tracks were filler at best.

Check out the back artwork.

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Album Reviews

Album Review – Ashanti Christmas albums.

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ashanti-a-wonderful-christmas-with-ashanti-ep-download

Years of Release: 2003 ; 2013/2014

Record Labels: The Inc Records (Ashanti’s Christmas); Written Entertainment/Entertainment One (A Wonderful Christmas With Ashanti)

Here I am doing something that I haven’t done before prior to this. Okay, maybe I have done something similar, as in the past I had done a double review for my college newspaper when I reviewed Grand Theft Auto V and Saints Row IV as a comparison review. However, this is the first time that I have done one on music albums and being that it’s Christmas time, I wanted to do something like this especially if these two albums are from the same artist. I have also noted in the past that I am not opposed to doing R&B albums for this website. I also must add that I am a fan of Ashanti and in some ways, one of these two albums could qualify for this site as Murder Inc was (or is, as it still sort of exists) a rap label. So R&B was never out of the question for me to review on this site.

I will go over these two albums chronologically, which means that I will talk about Ashanti’s Christmas first.

Before I critique the album, I remember that I had contemplated getting this for years but I mainly listened to some reviewers on Amazon, which had given this a low score. Some had compared it to Whitney Houston’s (RIP) Christmas album that came out around the same time as this one did, but you can’t really compare to the two, especially considering how different their vocal styles were. But sometime later I bought her second Christmas album, so I thought it wouldn’t hurt to give the other one a go. I have to say that I went going with my own instincts and I came out actually enjoying it more than I thought I would, but there were some flaws on this album.

I won’t deny that she had limitations in her vocals, and her singing voice is rather high, but that doesn’t mean that she didn’t try her best. She did well in some songs like “Christmas Time Again” and “Hey Santa,” which I initially expected to be a cover of the Carnie and Wendy Wilson song of the same name. I also enjoyed her version “The Christmas Song,” as well as “This Christmas,” but then you had her versions of “Silent Night,” “Joy To The World,” and “Winter Wonderland,” all of which could have been a lot better than they actually were. Also, some of the production had some jazzy feel to it, but some of the other tracks could have better work done to the beats and instrumentals. One of other song that I liked, however, was “Time of Year.”

This wasn’t a terrible album by any means, but in some ways, it is a good to play during the holiday season, but some of the tracks could have been better. In fairness, it was during a busy time for her as this came out the same year as Chapter II, her second album, and I am sure that there was not a lot of time to try to perfect the songs. Still, it’s decent enough to play during Christmas time, as some of the good outweighs the bad slightly.

As for A Wonderful Christmas With Ashanti, it could be said that over time that things probably had improved vocally and the production was a little different this time around. I must note that I also bought this during the holiday season of 2014 at Target, which had a version that had two exclusive extra tracks. It was previously released in 2013 as an EP, before another version had come out with more tracks the following year.

What is noticeable is that this album does have the feel for the holidays, even with some songs having an R&B-lite beat for the background in some songs, like “Christmas Love” for example, as well as “It’s Christmas.” But what’s also noticeable is that even the uses of the bell sounds added to the beats to give it a Christmas-like feel. Her vocals had also matured over time. It HAD been a decade since her previous Christmas album.

I liked how the production was done for “Sleigh Ride” and “Let It Snow,” as they were rather upbeat for this album. The song, “Christmas is the Time,” was actually a re-worked version of “Time of Year” from the previous Xmas album. I liked both versions, but if you were to listen to both versions back-to-back, you can see the differences, as well as the comparisons. She also did a good job in other songs like “The First Noel” and “Santa Baby,” the latter of which I am not a huge fan of, but I’ll listen to her version (Along with Gwen Stefani’s version, as heard in her Christmas album).

The album closed off with “White Christmas,” and it was quite a family affair on this one, as her parents, her cousin, and her younger sister, Chi Chi, all sang on this one. Though the relatives were mainly backup singers in it, it was still a nice track to listen to and I have to give them all credit because it seemed that Ashanti wanted to do a song with her family and I can’t help but respect that.

Out of the two albums, I preferred A Wonderful Christmas With Ashanti more than Ashanti’s Christmas, but I really don’t think that her first Christmas album was as terrible as people said it was. She was rather big during the time that album had come out and haters did hate on her during that time (Not to mention that she collaborated with Ja Rule, who was the biggest laughingstock in the rap world in 2003). It could be said that she had improved within that time, as well as more time was put into the second Xmas album, so that is why it was the better album of the two. But I know I will play the first one during the holiday season as well in the future.

Ashanti’s Christmas – 3.5/5

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Time of Year
  2. Hey Santa
  3. Christmas Time Again
  4. Sharing Christmas
  5. The Christmas Song

A Wonderful Christmas With Ashanti – 4.5/5

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Christmas is the Time
  2. The First Noel
  3. Can’t Wait For Christmas
  4. Sleigh Ride
  5. White Christmas

 

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Album Reviews

Album Review: Jim Jones – A Dipset Xmas

Year of Release: 2006

Record Label: Diplomats/Koch Records

It seems that after having done my reviews of Christmas on Death Row, High Fo’ Xmas, and Christmas in Tha Dogghouse, I found that sometimes mixing the holiday spirit with hip-hop can sometimes be a good and bad thing. Okay, maybe “bad” is pushing it, but sometimes you have the good, like the Death Row Christmas album (Believe it or not, it was actually good), then you have the ones that you can joke about like High Fo’ Xmas (Though the Eazy-E Christmas song isn’t far behind), and then you have the ones that left a lot more to be desired, like Christmas in Tha Dogghouse (Though there WERE some good tracks on it).

First off, I can’t say that I was ever a big fan of Jim Jones. I don’t dislike the guy, I just never really heard much of his stuff outside of “We Fly High,” and just thinking about that song took me back to 2006/2007 when that was all over the airwaves. Then again, I can’t say that I got into the Diplomats, either, though I don’t mind Cam’ron or Juelz Santana, as I do enjoy some of their material. The first time I found out about this album was when I read a review about Christmas on Death Row and this was mentioned in the first paragraph. I thought it was a joke until I looked it up on Amazon. I figured that this would be perfect for me to write a review on it.

The main thing that should be said is this album kind of falls in the middle depending on how you look at it. Before I get into the album, the album insert that had a photo of the Capo himself with a snowy backdrop and a quote that said “I wanted to make a Christmas album for kids in the hood and shit like that.” I can’t fault him for that, as the Christmas-related tracks did sort of capture the spirit of the holidays. For example, I liked how “Dipset Xmas Time” had its own spin on Paul McCartney’s “Wonderful Christmas Time.” I personally am not a fan that song, but “Dipset Christmas Time” was actually a decent track. Also, “Ballin’ on Xmas” was a good hip-hop song with a Christmas theme. It was also good to hear the beat to “Christmas in Hollis” from Run-DMC, whom sampled “Back Door Santa” from Clarence Carter. “Wish List” is actually standout track with mentions of how life in the ghetto was like in the holiday season.

However, the biggest problem that this album has is that only the first five tracks are related to Christmas as the other half isn’t. Hell, I got the Best Buy version in the mail with contained additional three songs and they weren’t related to Christmas. Not to say that those other cuts are bad, though some could have been better, but I wondered if Jim Jones wanted to have some songs that didn’t make the cut on Hustler’s P.O.M.E. (Product of My Environment), which came out a month prior to this one. Out of all of the tracks that weren’t related to Christmas, the only one that stood out was the remix to “We Fly High.”

This album isn’t terrible. At first, I thought that it would be kind of a joke Christmas hip-hop album, but the first five tracks are actually pretty good because it did follow the Christmas theme. But seriously, this album COULD be listened to outside of the holiday season, just as long as you don’t listen to the first five songs. Hell, it would be better if the other five (Or eight, depending on which version you have) was burned onto a separate CD so that you could listen to it during the other parts of the year, while the first five songs can be put onto its own disc (Or playlist depending on how people do it these days).

It’s a soft recommend from me.

Top Five Tracks:

  1. Ballin’ On Xmas
  2. Dipset Xmas Time
  3. If Everyday Was Xmas
  4. Wish List
  5. Have a Happy Xmas

Honorable Mention: We Fly High (Remix)

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