Christmas is full of terrible traditions, but the music it brings isn’t one of them. There is real joy in some of the songs we grew up with, bright with festive cheer, still permeating our universes every year. It’s why so few modern Christmas songs ever really make it out the blocks. However, one festive number from the world of hip hop deserves recognition, if only for its brutal hilarity: DMX’s cover version of ‘Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer’.
Like many iconic hip-hop figures, DMX began rapping in the early 1990s before establishing himself as a leading figure of the growing genre when he released his debut album, It’s Dark, and Hell Is Hot, in 1998. The record propelled DMX to critical and commercial acclaim, selling no fewer than 251,000 copies within its first week of release, in turn, etching his name into the annals of hip hop history in the process.
From that moment on, DMX didn’t look back, forging a new path for hip-hop alongside his contemporaries. The rapper released eight studio albums, the most recent coming in the shape of the 2015 effort Redemption of the Beast. Three years before that effort, DMX went viral for something a little more unexpected.
The rapper was asked to recite the lyrics to the famous festive song by an interviewer and quickly seized the opportunity to refresh the classic. Using a table for a beat, DMX delivered a fire-breathing cover of the track. The video instantly went viral and, five years later, sent DMX into the studio to create his own cover.
Given the opportunity as part of the Spotify Singles Christmas playlist of that year, DMX joined other performers such as Wyclef Jean and Fifth Harmony to drop covers of Christmas staples.
Using his notoriously raspy delivery, DMX kicks things up a gear or two to produce quite possibly our favourite hip hop holiday song of all time. Is it actually a good song? Probably not. But is it all about producing a smile from ear to ear? Absolutely. Isn’t that what Christmas is all about?
Listen to DMX’s outrageous cover of ‘Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer’ below.