In an effort to further explore the myriad and "Komplicated" musical tastes of the modern "post-Black" denizens of the world, we present Spin City, which will feature recommendations from some of the world’s finest DJs, headlined by the selections of our own "resident DJ," comic book fan, Star Wars and wrestling aficionado and all around swell guy, the world famous DJ Jedi [Facebook, Twitter and podcast]. He's graciously agreed to drop the science on musicology for you …
Let's be honest: Most holiday carols are straight R. Kelly doo doo butter. It's gotten to a point where I don't even want to set foot into a retail establishment between the months of October and January for fear that I'll be bombarded with a cavalcade of Christmas corniness. That being said: while I may be completely jaded by the corporatism that's become affiliated with the holiday season, I'm not a complete Scrooge. Throw some funk, a tight sample, an interesting twist, or even the slightest bit of creativity into some of those old Christmas songs, and we're back in business. Though they are few and very very VERY far in between, there are some holiday songs that still hit that soft spot in what remains of my cynical black heart.
Here's a short list of some of my favorite ***HOLIDAY THEMED JAMS THAT DON'T SUCK***:
In no particular order…
- The Soul Saints Orchestra, "Santa Got A Bag Of Soul"
Probably one of the funkiest Christmas anthems ever recorded. Those drums are ridiculous. I'd probably go apesh*t if I heard this come over the speakers while I was at Macys buying gifts. Santa's bumpin' this in his iPod while he's making his rounds. Your secret's out, Nick!
- Run-DMC, "Christmas In Hollis"
This is probably THE quintessential hip hop Christmas jam, and definitely a holiday staple for anyone under 40. But it still holds a special place in my heart to this day, if for no other reason than the fact that it was the first Christmas joint I ever remember hearing that actually kinda spoke to my reality. Being a kid growing up in Inglewood, California in the 80s, I couldn't tell you thing one about roasting a chestnut on an open fire or what fun it might be to dash through the snow in a one-horse open sleigh. 70 degree winters, son. Not identifying. But DMC talkin' bout Moms cookin' chicken and "colley greens"? THAT'S what MY Christmases looked like. Classic.
- Clarence Carter, "Backdoor Santa"
The sample source Run-DMC used for "Christmas In Hollis," and a great song in its own right. I used to hear older folks complain to me about how raunchy rap music was compared to the music from their era. "Backdoor Santa" pretty much puts that whole argument to shame. "I ain't like old St. Nick: He don't come but once a year…" Oh word, Clarence? "I keep some change in my pocket, in case the children at home, I slide 'em a few pennies so we can be alone …" That was basically "Death Row Christmas" innuendo by that era's standards.
- Ras Kass, "Jack Frost"
The People's History of Christmas, according to Ras Kass. Audio Two's "Top Billin" drums + iconic Nat King Cole "Christmas Song" sample + sacrilegious subject matter = sample clearance hell/eternal bootleg status. With controversial lyrics like "Contrary to what my bereaved mother believed, Jesus was conceived by a mitochondrial weave", it's not much of a surprise that this song never saw an official release. The Cole Estate was NOT tryna hear that sh**. That's a shame really, as this was some of Ras' best material from that period.
- James Brown, "Soulful Christmas"
The Godfather of Soul put out a number of Christmas albums over the course of his storied career. This most epic funk banger is probably my favorite holiday jam from him. I'll be dedicating my entire column next week to his music. Stay tuned.
- De La Soul, "Millie Pulled A Pistol On Santa"
Easily the darkest tune on this list, but one of my favorite Christmas tunes nonetheless. A song about Karmic comeuppance wherein we learn the tragic story of Millie, a girl who we learn is being molested by her father Dillon, a social worker at De La's school and respected man about town. Millie tries to confide in the Plugs about her horrible secret, but they don't believe her. The song gets its title from the climax of the story, in which Millie acquires a gun and shoots her abusive father, who (in keeping with his squeaky clean public image) is volunteering as a local department store Santa. Arguably one of the most socially conscious hip hop songs ever committed to wax. This is a textbook example of De La Soul's storytelling prowess, and their willingness to take on controversial issues.
- The Vince Guaraldi Trio, "Linus & Lucy"
Better known as "The Charlie Brown Theme Song" for those not in the know. This might be the only "traditional" Christmas song on here, but it's a banger. This piano driven classic is joy wrapped inside a big tube of awesome. If this song doesn't bring even a begrudging smile to your face, I'm just going to assume your face muscles are broken.
- The Bangles, "Hazy Shade Of Winter"
Not technically a holiday song, per se … but it's one of those jams I tend to hear in rotation again around this time of year. I'm never mad when I do hear it. I didn't know until recently that this is actually a cover version of the Simon & Garfunkel tune of the same name. The S&G version is a bit of a snoozefest. On the other hand, this Bangles' version makes me want to start a mosh pit in the middle of Foot Locker.
- 69 Boyz feat. Quad City DJs & K-Nock, "What You Want For Christmas"
This might be my favorite holiday anthem ever made. NOT KIDDING. The way I see it, God's sole purpose in bringing the 69 Boyz and the Quad City DJs into existence was so they would one day bless the Earth with this masterpiece. For all I know, it's entirely possible that the entire concept of Christmas was created so that our lives would be improved by the existence of this song. But I digress..If you've never heard this 4 minutes and 30 some-odd seconds of AMAZING, press play on the Youtube vid and thank me later.
You can catch me spinning around town (and in SF even!!) at these awesome events happening this week.
- TONIGHT: 12.12.11
MOM: Motown On Mondays
(DJs spinning originals, covers, remixes, & close relatives of your favorite Motown jams)
Location: The Shortstop
1445 W. Sunset Blvd.
Echo Park, CA
(Open mic/stage/performance space for high school teens)
Location: Miles Memorial Playhouse
1130 Lincoln Blvd.
Santa Monica, CA
PST: Pacific Standard Time
(Jedi heads to the bay area to rock with DJ's Sake One, Fran Boogie, and others at one of the illest weekly dance parties on the West Coast)
Location: Eve Lounge
575 Howard Street
San Francisco, CA
NEXT WEEK: The James Brown Edition.
Barring unforeseen challenges, Spin City should be waiting for you, right here on Komplicated.com, every Monday afternoon.
[Source: DJ Jedi]