How do you do?
In the spirit of the holidays, I thought I’d provide for you a list of my all-time favorite Christmas songs. I originally started putting this list together in my head about 5 years ago when I saw a list released of the “20 Greatest Christmas Songs” of all-time. Man, listen….that list was whiter than Seinfield…and that’s pretty white. I cannot recall the source of the list: But I remember what was NOT on there: A single Black artist. How do you have a Christmas list and it not include Whitney? Or Aretha? Or Donny Hathaway? Is it even possible to build a Christmas playlist without The Bad & Black & Black & Bad as it gets.
Temptations? Well…I learned a long time ago to stop waiting on other folks to shine a light on Black Excellence; I will do so myself. So with that, here are 33 of the Blackest Christmas songs you’ll ever need: This list is as #Black as it gets: call and response: the choir break down, the rifts & runs; The synthesizing of our struggle into the music. It is as
There is literally something for everybody on this list. From The Queen of Soul to the Ying Yang Twins: I present to you: The Blackest Christmas Playlist you’ll ever need.
33. Cee Lo Mary Did You Know
A beautiful song and vocal performance by Cee Lo. As a matter of fact, his entire Christmas album is dope. I first heard this song on The Steve Harvey Morning last year and fell in love. Cee Lo is the rapper/singer I’d be if I could rap or sing. But I can’t so I’ll just live through him. ~cries~
32. Aretha Franklin – Walking in A Winter Wonderland
This gem was recorded during the Columbia years (pre-1967). It was during this phase that Aretha was more of a jazz singer than the Soul Sister we know her to be know. I would love hear her do this now. I mention The Queen many times in this post because I use her and James Brown as true metrics of Blackness. Besides, if you’re familiar with my blog, you know I love me some Ree! Rightfully so though.
31. Whitney Houston and Bobbi Kristina – Little Drummer Boy
Coming in at number 31 a beautiful rendition of a Christmas classic. Sending peace and love to #GenerationFlex Soul Brother BobbyBrown who will spend his first Christmas without his daughter, his mother, and Whitney. Damn…Hug your family a little closer this holiday season!
30. Eazy E – Merry Muthaf*ckin Christmas –
This song is as explicit and inappropriate and filled with as much misogyny as you’d expect from Eric Wright (No Relation). In fact, this song is so inappropriate, it almost didn’t make the list…lol I would suggest skipping this track if the kids are in the room. But, when the chirren go to bed, crank this one up!
29. Silver Bells – The Supremes
Because no list is complete without Diana Ross. On the 50th anniversary of its release, The Supreme’s take on the Christmas classic has all the makings of the Motown sound: Easy lead vocals, just enough pop with a twinge of R&B, and a big band musical arrangement behind Ms. Ross, Ms. Wilson, and Ms. Ballard. Definitely a holiday classic!
28. Vanessa Williams – Sleigh Ride
Okay, I have to admit: This wasn’t an actual song. Its actually an arrangement from one of my all-time favorite Christmas movies: A Diva’s Christmas Carol with Vanessa Williams. How can you not bob and bounce to this funky arrangement, tho? Ms. Williams & Co. took one of the blandest Christmas songs I can recall and funked it up while Blackin’ it down. You can’t be mad at it!
27. Children Go Where I Send Thee – Nina Simone
You probably don’t recognize this song because it’s usually sang every Christmas service by some God-awful Childrens’ choir. Listen…I love the children, but I am just not here for their singing and I don’t mind saying it. In the meantime, The High Priestess of Soul Nina Simone has a solid version of a song children should stay away from until they’ve learned to get a real good grasp on their tone, voice, and anything dealing with sounding well. No shade! And Merry Christmas to all the babies! X__X
26. Destiny Child – 8 Days of Christmas
Bey Bey Beyonce making her first and only appearance on this list. Not one of my personal favorites but…I know many people do jam to this. It’s not a bad song and she and the girls look and sound amazing! It just reminds me so much of The Proud Family theme song that its hard to get into.
25. Deck Da Club – Ying Yang Twins
Who knew the Ying Yangs Twins even had a Christmas album? It’s so Black and Atlanta-ish, I can’t stand it. Send grandma home, pass the Remy, and turn up!
24. Snoop Dogg ft. Nate Dogg – Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto
In a classic remake of James Brown Christmas classic, Snoop Dogg and Clarksdale, Mississippi native Nate Dogg (CRIB!) reminds us that struggle is still very real. And if it wasn’t Black enough for you, Snoop & Co. spit this entire song over a dope Issac Hayes classic “Do Your Thing.” You must bow to the horn section doing their thing in this!
23. Boyz II Men – Let it Snow
Meets the definition of a standard by the very definition. The song song – and its place in history – pretty much speaks for itself. Released during the “Golden Years” of Boys II Men, “Let it Snow” is just one of those feel good Christmas songs that always gets you in the holiday spirit.
22. Santa Baby – Eartha Kitt
Marilyn who? Audrey Hepburn, huh? Grace Kelly, did what now? I’m sorry…I couldn’t hear you over all of that #Black & #Sexy that is Ms. Eartha “Bad As I Wanna Be” Kitt. Probably the sexiest Christmas song ever recorded. Ms. Kitt actually died on Christmas day just 7 years ago. Send a prayer up for The Original Black Cat this holiday season. We miss you, Queen!
21. Christ Brown – This Christmas
The insanely talented and impeccably imperfect Chris Brown singing a Christmas classic. “This Christmas” has been recorded by everybody from Patti Labelle to Aretha Franklin. Still, no one quite captures it like Chris. What I love about this rendition? How he slows it down in the beginning of the song – very reminicent of the The Whisper’s version. Shout out to FAMU alum WIll Packard and his film “This Christmas” where this song was featured. FAMU stay doing what we do: Reining, Ruling, and Regulating. You mad? Get in line.
20. Otis Redding – Merry Christmas Baby
One of my favorite vocalist doing his thing on this Christmas favorite. This song is almost as old as my parents but still goes hard. Otis Redding is true soul superstar whose voice will forever live on.
19. Jackson 5 – Santa Claus is Coming To Town
Leave it to Michael Jackson to Blackify anything. The harmonizing in the background get me every time. Jackie, Tito, Jermaine, and Marlon are back there doing their thing! When MJ hits us with the “Ah-root-a-toot-toot-and-rump-pa-tump-tump” you’re hooked!
18. Mahalia Jackson – Silent Night
The Queen of Gospel doing what The Queen of Gospel does. Mahalia has this disrespectful way of running #up the scale – a little vocal trick she passed on to Aretha, Luther, Mariah, and Gladys. She has been in my spirit heavy lately. I don’t know if its because my grandmother has been on my mind, or the fact that I am in Chicago – her former stomping grounds. All I know is this: no Christmas playlist is complete without Mahalia. Long live the Queen!
17. Ludacrimas – Ludaris
Luda’s flow on this is insane. Okay, I admit: This list leans heavy on the ATL sound. What can I say? The A is embedded deep in me. It’s clean, it’s funky, and it’s as Black a Christmas song as it gets.
16. O’ Come All Ye Faithful – Luther Vandross
The only Christmas song that brings tears to my eyes – no matter who sings it. Such a beautiful song from the first note to the very last. Just listening to the opening chords of this song as I type this, I am wrapping my mind around the fact that we are about to celebrate Christmas number 10 without Luther. Let that sink in.
15. Joy To The World – Aretha Franklin
Can you a have “Black” anything and not have The Queen Of Soul somewhere on that list? You could but then you wouldn’t. This is definitely one of the #Blackest Christmas songs I have ever heard. Queen Mother gives you the call and response, she gives you the good ole “shut-the-music-off-and-lets-rock-this-with-our-hands-and-feet-like-the-Missionary-Baptist-I-Am,” the ad libs alone do it for me. When Aretha hits you with that “YESSIR!” It’s a wrap. Move the coffee table back and just get to shouting. Sidenote: Only The Queen could pull off a #frontless #longsleeve #fulllength #fur #hoodie #cape. Girl, where did you get that?
One of those songs that just gets better and better every time you hear it. Cee Lo’s vocals are absolutely ridiculous and Christina? Man, listen….somewhere around the 2:50 mark, Christina and the pianist start doing some real disrespectful things. I don’t know if she’s leading the piano of if the piano is leading her, either way, it’s gold. This is the Christina I have always loved and craved. She is a born and bred soul singer through and through and this rendition of the Ella Fitzgerald and Ray Charles’ classic proves that point in my opinion. Cee Lo has definitely earned both of his spots on this list with this track.
13. What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas? – Patti Labelle
“What do they do? What do they do?” This Black ass Christmas song right here!!!! Patti holds nothing back as she takes “The Emotions” classic and Labelle’s it up and down! I love to hear her sing in her upper register. She recorded this track over the age of 60 and Rips it up and tears it down! “The Phoenix from Philadelphia” does not disappoint with this track! She breaks it down at the 2:45 mark and all you can do is reach for the Pinot. What do the lonely do? Patti, when you find out, please let a brother know!
12. Kurtis Blow – Christmas Rap
Just hit play, get on the spades table, and enjoy your family, man. Kurtis wrote this for Us. A true to life Hip Hop classic in my opinion. My dad has given me many a gems in my life. One of the greatest? Introducing me to Kurtis Blow.
11. Santa Claus Go Straight To The Ghetto – James Brown
The Godfather of Soul never ever missed an opportunity to socially infuse the people with Blackness. I dare you to find an artist in the history of the music industry who used his platform to liberate his people at every corner. James had his demons, but don’t we all? This entire album is for the truly Young, Gifted, and Black. I mean, James actually put “Say It Loud!” on a Christmas album!!! How can you NOT bow to His Blessed Blackness for that? When you crank this up, and the funk hits you, Tell em James Brown sent you! We lost Our Soul Funky Brother Number One on Christmas Day in 2006 – exactly two years before Eartha Kitt. Play this track in honor of him, her, and all of the Ghetto children all over the world who could use a little Blessed Blackness and Holiday cheer this season. We could all learn a thing or two from Brother Brown. Say it Loud!
10. Joy To The World – Whitney Houston
Next year, we commemorate the 20th anniversary of “The Preacher’s Wife,” arguably one of the greatest Holiday movies of the last 20 years. The only thing greater than the movie itself? Whitney and the Georgia Mass Choir ripping that soundtrack to shreds. Whitney had choirs all over the nation attempting to hit that “JOY-JOY-JOY-JOY!” Many tried; and a whole bunch of em failed – believe me. But we remember the choir who got it right. Whitney is making her 2nd appearance of this list and is one of only two artists who are in the Top 10 more than once. If “Joy To The World” is already accounted for, Can you guess what other song would make this list?
9. All I Want For Christmas Is You – Mariah Carey
The people stay coming for Mariah and every year around this time, Mariah reminds us why your hater mail was returned to sender. 20 years later, Mariah Carey still holds the record for the most downloaded Christmas song in history. Beyond the fact that she has more number one singles than Elvis and The Beatles, beyond the fact that she is 2nd only to Whitney in accolades gained over the last 25 years. Beyond the fact the she has been declared as the “The Greatest Singer of All-Time” based solely on reputable criteria rooted in actual science, Mariah did it all before the age of 50. Just for the haters, (and for the haters only) I’ve included an acapella version of this Christmas classic just for you. Come through, #MessiahCarey!
8. What Do The Lonely Do At Christmas? – The Emotions
The Emotions. Before Destiny’s Child and Backstreet. Before EnVogue and the pop girl groups of the 80’s, there were The Emotions. Harmonizing isn’t even the word for what these 3 sisters do when they get together. You’re more familiar with them than you probably realize. I am sure you have one of their jams on your Saturday Morning Clean Up Playlist. “Best of My Love” is a go-to favorite for many. “Don’t Ask My Neighbor” is another. Again I ask, what do they do? What do they do?
7. This Christmas – The Whispers
Many have tried. And by Many, I mean many. “This Christmas” is easily one of the most recorded Christmas songs of the last 30 years. Yet, most versions simply make you yearn for Donny’s timeless classic. But, if there was one version that came close, if there was just one version worthy of being the 2nd best version “This Christmas,” it would have to be “The Whispers” hands down. The slowed down groove of this song stirs up emotions in you that instantly brings family to mind. I often wish Chris Brown would have song his version on this groove. Definitely an all-time personal favorite. It was hard to put this song at just number 7.
6. Who Would Imagine A King? – Whitney Houston
A hard song to listen to around this time as it reminds me that Whitney is no longer with us. Even looking back over this list, I have to come to grips with the fact that James Brown, Eartha Kitt, Michael Jackson, Whitney and Bobbi K, Nate Dogg, Issac Hayes, Donny Hathaway, Luther Vandross, Eazy-E, Mahalia Jackson, Otis Redding, and Nina Simone are no longer with us. It’s enough to make you pause, reflect, and remember that Black Excellence – tho divine in nature and perfect in all Its ways – is not immortal. I am probably getting to deep so I’ll end it here. Just let Whitney take you to a place she tends to go. Christmas number 3 without Our Queen. We love and miss you, Whitney!
5. Rudolph The Red – Nose Reindeer – The Temptations
This Black ass Christmas songs just fills me to the rim with everything I need. When I hear this song, I know that Christmas is upon us! Whoever arranged this, needs to be forever enshrined in the Black Hall of Fame – if there is such a place. If not, build it, and make sure this song is playing year round. #HEYRUDOLPH!
4. Luther Vandross – Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
Luther comes in at number 4 with a Blacked-out version of a very white song. This song and this version is easily one of the greatest Christmas songs ever recorded. It puts to shame most mainstream versions. As many times as I hear this song, it has a melody reminiscent of “A House is Not A Home,” so I’m always looking for him to break it down like he did in that classic…alas it never comes. It was hard to place this at number 4. Just know, the songs that came before this one, definitely earned their place.
3. Silent Night – The Temptations
Vocally speaking, easily one of the greatest versions of Silent Night ever recorded. The Temptations hold nothing back. Dennis, “The Soulful Soprano” Eddie, and and booming base Melvin Franklin deliver a vocal performance that will forever go down in history as one of the Blackest Christmas songs of all-time. When Melvin comes on the record his voice literally scrapes the bottom of your soul. You have to clutch your chest just to make sure he didn’t pull anything up. An already beautiful song with timeless lyrics, The Temptations remind you what it means to take it back and make it Black.
2. This Christmas – Donny Hathaway
Yes. Number II. I know, I know. This was a super hard decision. But number two is till a pretty jazzy place to be on this list. I mean, I had dig deep for these Black ass Christmas songs. So for Brother Donny to be number two, I’d say that is a pretty good feat. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: many have tried but only two in my opinion (The Whispers and Chris Brown) have come remotely close to doing this song justice. I have always considered Donny one of my favorite artists and an all-time favorite vocalist of mine. When you hear Donny’s version you know it’s Christmas season. #ShakeAHand #ShakeAHand This song is celebrating 45 years this year. It was released on his debut album (A CLASSIC!!!!!) and has been a major part of the Black Holiday experience ever since. Long Live Donny Hathaway!
1. 12 Ghetto Days of Christmas – 69 Boys, Quad City’s DJ’s, and K-Not
90’s Babies stand up! Who knew that when the 69 Boys and the Quad City DJ’s walked into the studio almost 20 years ago, they would walk out with easily (yet arguably) the Blackest Christmas Song of all-time. I remember the first time I heard this: I was 10 years old in Atlanta in the car with my mom, brother, and sister. It was one of the few occasions we didn’t have to endure Luther Barnes, or the Canton Spirituals, or Shirley Ceasar…the beat dropped and everybody in my car lost their mind. The 69 Boys ran through their verse and we ate it up. But, it wasn’t until K-Not, the female MC, got on the track that the the song elevated to levels of Blackness unseen. She actually asked for, for real for real – asked Santa Claus for 9 packs of weave, 7 bus passes, and wait for it….5 MONTHS FREE REEEEENNNNNNNNT! I mean, Black or White, who the hell ain’t tryna have rent paid from January to May? It was the reclaiming of the word “ghetto,” often used in derogatory and as a euphemism for Black. Call me ghetto, you might as well call me a King, because it is the same thing to me. Today, and every day, and every Christmas let us remember the 12 Ghetto Days of Christmas.
I hope you enjoyed. I love you all. Be Bad & Black this Christmas! For those who are interested, here is the list on youtube!