This was the first rap song released on a major label. Kurtis recorded this with the help of producers Robert Ford and J.B. Moore. They took it to Mercury Records, who signed Kurtis to a two-single deal, under the condition that If both singles were successful, he would get an album deal. "Christmas Rappin'" was the first single, and it did very well. The second single was "The Breaks," and it became the first rap song to be certified as a gold record, selling over 500,000 copies. Kurtis got the album deal and became the first rapper signed to a major label.
Like many early rap songs, this one doesn't have a chorus, which means it also doesn't have an obvious title. In many of these songs, the word "rap" was incorporated into the title (see: "Rapper's Delight
"), and in this case, "Christmas Rappin'" made for a clever play on the phrase "Christmas Wrapping." Two years later The Waitresses released a song with that title
as a play on Kurtis' song.
This was the first successful Christmas rap song. It tells the story of Santa dropping in at a house party and joining in the fun.
In our interview with Kurtis Blow, he explained: "J.B. Moore wrote the first half of the song, the Christmas part. I did all of the party part, the second half of the song. I wrote all of that on a train ride down to the studio around Christmas time."
Unlike many rap songs, this one contains no samples. J.B. Moore and Robert Ford put the track together using live musicians. The music is very disco-influenced and similar to what group Chic was doing.
This song stays true to the spirit of Christmas in that while Santa drops off significant swag, Kurtis closes by explaining what's really important:
Money could never ever buy the feeling
The one that comes from not concealing
The way you you feel about your friends
And this is how the story ends
Every Christmas, this would sell more copies. After eight years, it went gold.
The R&B group Next interpolated a piece of this at the beginning of their song "Too Close," earning the "Christmas Rappin'" writers credits on the track. This turned out to be very lucrative, as "Too Close" became a huge hit in 1998, going to #1 in the US for five weeks.
The song starts with a reading of the 1822 poem A Visit from St. Nicholas ("The Night Before Christmas"), with Kurtis interrupting the tale to deliver his own story.
The 12" single runs 8:11, but the 7" single and radio edit are a more compact 3:58.
The part where Kurtis interrupts the poem by saying "Hold it now!" was sampled by the Beastie Boys on their 1986 song "Hold It Now, Hit It."