Hip-hop may be associated more with brags and bling than goodwill and giving, but the best Christmas hip-hop and R&B songs are gifts that keep on giving. “Let it snow” might mean something different to Gucci Mane than it does Boyz II Men, but whether you’re having Christmas in Harlem, Hollis, or Hoxton, these Yultetide classics will keep you full of Christmas cheer as you deck the halls.
Listen to the best hip-hop Christmas songs on Spotify, and scroll down for our list of just a few of the best hip-hop and R&B Christmas songs.
Kanye West, Cyhi The Prynce, And Teyana Taylor – Christmas In Harlem
Kanye’s might not be the first name that comes to mind when you think of Christmas cheer, but the boy from Chi-Town brings a bit of wide-eyed wonder to “Christmas In Harlem.” Teyana Taylor’s hook is the sugar’n’spice to Kanye’s self-professed “bad Santa” antics – though Ye hands a verse to CyHi Da Prynce (as well as Pusha T and Musiq Soulchild), giving him the best present a young rapper could have had in 2010: a guest spot on a Yeezy album. (If you like this one, be sure to check for the original version that included verses from Big Sean, Dipset’s Cam’ron, Jim Jones, Vado, and more.)
Yo Gotti, Fabolos, DK Khaled – 3 Kings
The kings of the nativity brought gold, frankincense and myrrh, but these three members of Roc Nation royalty come from “where the toys on a list is a Glock or a fifth.” “Let it snow” means something very different to Yo Gotti… but he’s got “a whole hedge” of the white stuff “so the whole hood can eat.”
Kurtis Blow – Christmas Rappin’
Hip-hop was just six years old when Kurtis Blow arrived on the scene in 1979 – young enough to still believe in Santa Claus, but seemingly not old enough to have earned its own seasonal jam. So the man behind “The Breaks” pulled out all the stops for his debut single, delivering one of the best Christmas hip-hop and R&B songs of all time. “Christmas Rappin” finds Kurtis Blow doing exactly what the title promises over a funky beat, bringing the world a Saint Nick who “forgot his cares and… rocked the spot and danced like a pro” before leaving the block for the Pole.
Run-DMC – Christmas In Hollis
With Run receiving a windfall from Santa, and DMC “chilling and coolin’ just like a snowman,” Queens’ finest bust a Golden Age classic that proves only sucker MCs think they’re too tough for Christmas.
Blondie feat. Fab 5 Freddy – Yuletide Throwdown (Cut Chemist Remix)
Who would have guessed that hip-hop pioneer Fab 5 Freddy and Blondie frontwoman Debbie Harry would sound so good trading bars? Exactly 40 years after recording “Yuletide Throwdown,” Blondie and Fab 5 have recruited Cut Chemist to remix the track, giving their rap classic a decidedly old-school edge. Freddy still sounds nice on the mic, with Harry serving as hypeman as they spit rhymes like, “’Cause I’m a Fab 5 Freddy, love/From a-rockin’ the beat from the skies above/’Cause I was born and raised on the Hancock Street/Where I listened to the sounds of the disco beat.”
Mariah Carey – All I Want for Christmas Is You
No playlist of the best R&B Christmas songs would be complete without this absolute classic. Amazingly, it only topped the Billboard Top 100 in 2019, 25 years after its release.
Ariana Grande – December
Merry Christmas, here she is, boy… At her sultry best, Ariana’s “just tryna keep my baby warm through the wintertime… tryna give you something to remember through the summertime.” “December” was first released in 2015, and we’re in no danger of forgetting it any time soon.
Boyz II Men – Let It Snow
Proving their voices really were as pure as the driven snow, Boyz II Men teamed up with Bryan McKnight for this winter warmer, making the fireside sound far more appealing than anything going on out of doors.
Eazy-E – Merry Muthaf___in’ X-Mas
The N.W.A. member’s entry into the Christmas rap canon has a memorable intro from Dolemite, before launching into a foul-mouthed take on “Jingle Bells.” Listen to the lyrics closely and you’ll properly never think about mistletoe, sleigh rides, and plenty of other Christmas-related things in the same way.
Mary J. Blige – This Christmas
No more drama for Mary J. this Christmas as she gives a super-smooth treatment to Donny Hathaway’s 70s soul classic. Everyone from The Temptations to Aretha Franklin have turned their hand to this one, and Mary J. nails it with a spot-on performance that captures the emotion of the holiday season.
Ghostface Killah – Ghostface X-Mas
With all the frenzy of a last-minute buying spree on Christmas Eve, Ghostface dashes through a litany of seasonal imagery, from elves in Santa’s workshop to “cookies and milk on the mantle” and, er, “bareskin robe dragon with Versace slippers.” Complete with a sinister entreaty for kids to “be good for old Ghostface,” “Ghostface X-Mas” is a killer cut that stands among the best Christmas rap songs ever.
Ludacris – Ludacrismas
The Southern rapper / actor appeared as DJ Donnie in the 2007 movie Fred Claus in 2007 and, of course, provided a tune for the soundtrack. Its thumping beat flips “Here Comes Santa Claus” to devastating effect.
Run The Jewels – A Christmas F__king Miracle
As glacial as the winter freeze, RTJ’s seasonal offering unapologetically questions religion and calls out racism in the US. But with a shout out to fallen friends and an overall message of love and the importance of family, “A Christmas F__ing Miracle” is the gift that keeps on giving.
Snoop Doggy Dogg, Dat N—a Daz, Tray Deee, Bad Azz and Nate Dogg – Santa Claus Goes Straight to the Ghetto
Interpolating the title from James Brown’s seminal “Santa Claus Go Straight to the Ghetto,” Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Daz Dillinger, Tray Deee, and Bad Azz bring a little bit of West Coast gangsta rap to the Christmas staple. Though Snoop and the late Nate Dogg are best known for summertime smashes, on “Santa Claus,” they conjure up the first white Christmas Long Beach has ever seen.
Outkast – Player’s Ball (Christmas Version)
Long before OutKast were, you know, Outkast, they were the face of a LaFace Records winter compilation set to emerge around Christmas. Their contribution? “Player’s Ball,” a song only about Christmas if you really squinted, but then again, Andre and Big Boi were beamed in from a planet in which Christmas carols probably never existed.
Ying Yang Twins – Deck Da Club
The Ying Yang Twins said it better than anyone else: “Deck the halls with piles of money/Falalalala, lala, la, la.” Christmas is all about spending the bread you so carefully stacked throughout the year, to shower your loved ones with gifts and meals and merriment.
Tyler, The Creator feat. Ryan Betty & Santigold – Lights On
“Lights On” comes from Tyler’s soundtrack for Music Inspired by Illumination & Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch and features pop icon Santigold and Brockhampton collaborator Ryan Betty. The track finds Tyler rushing to get home to meet his love before Christmas is over, a decidedly PG version of Tyler many families were happy to play at their Christmas festivities.
Rev Run & The Christmas All Stars (Salt-N-Pepa & Onyx & Snoop Dogg & P. Diddy & Keith Murray & Mase) – Santa Baby
It’s hard to get more star power than Rev Run recruited as his Christmas All Stars. Their version of “Santa Baby” became a massive hit, thanks to a bi-coastal effort from rap vets like Snoop Dogg, Onyx, Diddy, and Salt-N-Pepa.
The Treacherous Three – Santa Rap
Treacherous Three never get their deserved credit as hip-hop innovators. Their speed rapping skills influenced artists like T La Rock, LL Cool J, Limp Bizkit, and Rakim. Appearing on the soundtrack to Beat Street, their addition to the Christmas canon, “Santa Rap,” proved that rap and the holiday could mingle in a way that wasn’t just corny and commercial.
David Banner feat. Marcus & Sky – The Christmas Song
While David Banner’s impact on the rap game has been overshadowed by his raunchy hits, tracks like “The Christmas Song” proves that the Mississippi-bred MC and underrated producer has a versatility too often overlooked in evaluations of his career.
Justin Bieber feat. Busta Rhymes – Drummer Boy
It feels like forever ago, but Justin Bieber’s second full-length album was his Christmas-themed Under the Mistletoe. It was a risk for the artist, but he cashed in immensely on holiday cheer, propelled in large part by “Drummer Boy,” a playful, unexpected collaboration between Biebs and speed rap icon Busta Rhymes.
Jeremih & Chance – Snowed In
Jeremih and Chance the Rapper’s mixtape Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama was a true Christmas miracle. Forget snow at midnight or catching Santa coming down the chimney, Jeremih and Chance teaming up for hits like the raunchy “Snowed In” was the rare treat we all needed back in December of 2016.
Juelz Santana & Starr – Jingle Bellz
Sure, Kanye and Big Sean may have made “Christmas in Harlem,” but anytime Juelz Santana of Dipset is rapping about the holiday, it quite literally is Christmas in Harlem. The New York legend recruited Starr for his hit from Jim Jones’ Bad Santa soundtrack, which finds Juelz talking about all white Bentleys cruising across snow-heavy streets.
DMX – Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer
Having blown up in 1998 with the track “Get At Me Dog,” New York rapper DMX turned to a different type of four-legged friend for an unlikely take on this Christmas classic. After a light-hearted interview performance of the song went viral in 2012, DMX released an official recording in 2017.
Juice Crew – Cold Chillin’ Christmas
Juice Crew saw the success of Run D.M.C.’s “Christmas in Hollis,” and decided to continue the trend a year later in 1988 with “Cold Chillin’ Christmas.” The song originally appeared on a Warner Brothers holiday compilation, but the success of the track long outlived the gimmick of the project.
Destiny’s Child – 8 Days of Christmas
Destiny’s Child were already massive superstars when they decided to record a Christmas album, 8 Days of Christmas. Unfortunately, it would be their last album as a group, but they left us with a bevy of memorable Xmas songs, including the title track. Though 8 Days spelled the end of Destiny’s Child, it did mark the beginning of Beyonce’s solo career, which is a pretty decent Christmas consolation prize.
Think we missed one of the best Christmas hip-hop or R&B songs of all-time? Let us know in the comments. Looking for more? Discover the best Christmas songs of all time.