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My Picks For A Soulful Christmas

It’s that time of year again; Christmas season. Pre- pare to hear the same collection of songs playing in every store across America. Even though I have a soft spot in my heart for anything Christmas related, includ- ing Santa Clause, presents, hot cocoa, and don’t get me started on my Christmas pajama collection. The same loop of songs is warm and welcome at first, but after the thousandth time they can mind numbing. Do you get tired of it? I’ll be honest, it doesn’t bother me thatmuch, but that’s only because I’ve grown up on a differ- ent set of songs than most people. My mom knew that there was more out there than the old-timey songs and Mariah Carey. She introduced me to songs and renditions of classics sung by some of the most influential African American artists of all time. These songs created a feeling that went against the status quo of a holiday that, like others, can have an image that’s whitewashed. This is a feeling I’m sure many other black kids felt growing up. If you’ve ever felt like this or are just looking for some new tunes for your holiday playlist, perhaps you’ll enjoy some of the selections in this article. Let’s start with those songs my mom introduced to me. The Soul Train Christmas Starfest Album features a collection of songs that fuse the feel of Motown, hip hop, and R&B with the magic of Christmas to create something truly unique. Songs like “Let It Snow” by Boyz II Men and “It’s Christmas (All Over the World)” by New Edi- tion fit right in with each legendary group’s style, while creating that feeling you’d get from the classic Christmas songs. If you’re feeling a little heartbroken this holiday, Luther Vandross’ ballad “Every Year, Every Christmas” tells the tale of a hopeless man desperately waiting for his ex-lovers return every Christmas. For those that still want the standard Christmas music, this tape has you covered with renditions of “The Christmas Song” sung by Natalie Cole and “This Christmas” sung by Patti Labelle, and the Nat King Cole and Donny Hathaway versions are also just as good. If you’re a hip hop fan like me, you’d probably like to hear more Christmas themed rap songs. If that’s the case then I’ve got some songs you’d definitely want to hear, if you haven’t already. Let’s start with what will proba- bly go down in history as the greatest Christmas rap song of all time, “Christmas in Hollis” by Run D.M.C. The beat has that holiday sound while not coming across as corny, and the lyrics tell a story that’s familiar to many of us who grew up in similar environments. If you have a soft spot for 90s R&B, you’d love “Sleigh Ride” by TLC and Silent Night Happy (Holiday Mix) by En Vogue. How about a lit- tle bit of the modern trap influence? Well for that I’d say check out Chance the Rapper and Jeremih’s 2017 mixtape “Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama.” Lastly, I have to mention Tyler the Creator’s contri- butions to 2018’s “The Grinch” animated film. If you’ve seen the movie you probably heard his version of “You’re A Mean One, Mr. Grinch,” however, what you probably don’t know is that he also created a full project inspired by the film, aptly titled, “Music Inspired by Illumination & Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch.” This project is amazing. It has all of the charm and style found in Tyler the Creator’s regu- lar music (with a lot of striking similarities to Igor which came out a year after, coincidence? I think not!) while also sounding like the music you’d expect to hear in every store across America. If you’re burnt out on Christmas music, I hope that some of these songs can give you the refresher you need. Sometimes all it takes is experiencing something that goes against the image the masses try to push. The holiday sea- son is home to many different traditions and cultures. I’m glad to share a piece of mine with all of you. Happy Holi- days everyone!

Photo: Epic Records

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