CD Review

Various Artists, Peanut Butter Wolf Presents Badd Santa (Stones Throw; exclusively available at all Urban Outfitters)

Hip-hop's first Christmas rap was anchored, of course, by Run-DMC letting us know what the season meant to them: "It's Christmas time in Hollis, Queens/Mom's cooking up chicken and collard greens."Badd Santa has its food rap, too; Hard Call Christmas' "My Christmas Bells" bites LL Cool J's "Rock the Bells" so hard dude needs a tetanus shot, but they do manage to squeeze in two "mash potatoes" shout-outs. Christmas is no time for haters (step off, Scrooge), so you can forgive the forced rhymes. In fact, in booty-meisters 69 Boys and Quad City DJs' "What I Want for Christmas," they slip in "Christmas day: the Birth of Christ is what it's all about/No doubt/Let me drop the beat here for a sec/Show some respect" [pause] before spoofing "12 Days of Christmas" in ghetto-fantasy wish lists.

But with its pre- and post-hip-hop range, Badd Santa plays more like label papa Peanut Butter Wolf's mixing a DJ Christmas special: Stones Throw homey James Pants delivers the spooky, vocoder-powered electro "This Christmas Girl"; reggae champions Cocoa Tea bust "Christmas Is Coming" like they're expecting a pony made of weed under the tree come Christmas morn. AM-pop softies Free Design offer the earnest "Close Your Mouth (It's Christmas)" so earnestly, in fact, that if Mannheim Steamroller and Manhattan Transfer can mine holiday tours out of their what's-not-to-love-(especially-at-Christmas-time) sounds, Free Design could have and should have, too. Change-ups such as Georgia Anne Muldrow's billowy "The Kwanzaa Song," which is the best cut here, keep BS reasonably B.S.-free. Throw in an obscure James Brown nugget ("Go Power at Christmas Time") and Vince Guaraldi's sublime "Skating," and my stocking's stuffed, yo, collard greens or not.

 
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