Our own Morgan Meis in The Smart Set:
Christmas music has never ranked highly among music aficionados. It exists, but no one likes to think about it much. Still, to create Christmas music is to belong in America. I don’t think this is a religious phenomenon. It is about homely feelings, about playing at tradition in a land that hasn’t any real ones. Americans imported their traditions from other lands and then went on to neglect them generally. Christmas is our pathetic, if charming, attempt at compensation.
The big question no one was asking in the 1980s was whether rap music could ever go that far. Was rap American enough to accomplish the Christmas song? When you do the Christmas song you are solid, you are in the club. Moreover, you are in the club to stay. A successful Christmas song will make it into a radio-cum-internet rotation that is beyond the vicissitudes of time. Think of “Christmas Wrapping” by The Waitresses. No one has heard of the band, every person in the world hears that song dozens of times every December. When the season rolls around, the songs do, too.
It fell, thus, on the broad shoulders of Run-DMC to accomplish this singular and difficult task. Such tasks were always confronting the hip-hop boys from Queens. They had to get white college kids to listen to rap music. Mission accomplished with Raising Hell. They had to make rap seem like the heir to rock and roll. Witness the collaboration with Aerosmith in “Walk This Way.”
It is no wonder, then, that one of their musical acts as good Americans was to produce a Christmas song. They called it “Christmas in Hollis.”
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