Arts Desk

DMV Beats: Christmas Ish, Shades of Trel, and a Hat Tip to Curtis Mayfield

Christmas Rappin'

If you grew up on hip-hop, you know it's the holiday season when Run-DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" plays on the radio. Not only does it evoke Yuletide cheer, but it's arguably the most popular depiction of Christmas in a rap song. Now, the DMV's Low Budget crew adds its own voice to holiday hip-hop with the latest edition of A Low Budget Christmas, a 22-song collection of festive instrumentals, in which the producers blend recognizable samples with their own percussion. On "Donny's Carol," Roddy Rod reconstructs Donny Hathaway's landmark "This Christmas." Kaimbr's "Frosty" samples "Frosty the Snowman" and Oddisee's "Kissin Clause" makes good use of The Jackson 5's "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus." It's unclear if Low Budget Christmas will be as synonymous as the Run-DMC classic, but it's still good enough to sip Hennessy and eggnog to. Maybe that's just me. —Marcus J. Moore


Sampling Tha God Again

It's hardly ingenious for a rapper and a DJ to do a tribute to Curtis Mayfield, and there's nothing particularly ingenious on Sm City and DJ Dub Floyd's 12-minute "Immortals: Curtis Mayfield" mix. But it's made with plenty of love, and love is the point. (It's the first of what the ad-hoc duo is saying will be "bi-weekly tribute mixes dedicated to legends in music.") The Jersey City DJ strings together some pleasing clips (including interview snippets of Mayfield), and the DMV MC picks a few choice spots to drop verses. Sm City's fave topic—the industry and its ills—pops up, of course: "Ain't nobody playin' by the rules/It's no referee/So what the fuck do you expect from me," he raps at the outset of the mix's final stretch, which isn't built on a Mayfield cut. It's from Japanese producer Nujabes' "Imaginary Folklore," which sampled Mayfield's "We The People Who Are Darker Than Blue." Love, it seems, is the perfect excuse for a little contemporary crate-diggin'. —Joe Warminksy

My Type of Trel

Good Talk, Volume 10the latest mixtape from half-assed label turned social haven for medicinal marijuana enthusiasts, The Smoker’s Club—features Fat Trel’s excellent “My Type of Shit.” The track dates to the early fall, and it’s one of those after-hours, synth-driven, post-Molly-popping hazy gems about zoning out and feeling, appropriately, good. The tape also features new music from good kids Big K.R.I.T., Joey Bada$$$, and Cashius Green. —Ramon Ramirez

Not Really My Type of Trel

Trel also just dropped a NSFW, World Star Hip-Hop appropriate clip for the standout "Nikki Sweets." Sonically, the track is a dynamic companion piece to “My Type of Shit,” and it’s about drinking Ciroc, rolling blunts, flying in Nikki Sweets from Indiana, and hooking up the tatted and blurry-eyed muse. The problem is that the clip—a little too literal with Trel and Nikki counting money in a hot-tub suite that overlooks the Las Vegas skyline, while, you guessed it, rolling blunts and hooking up—doesn't feel celebratory. Our drugged-out protagonists joylessly bathe in this sort of car crash-feeling, lost-youth vibe that leaves a bad taste in my mouth. —RR

#blackout Friday: Revisted

Straight from The Board Administration’s #blackout Friday release frenzy, Black Cobain spills some shine out with his gritty "Hunger.” Produced by one of Wiz Khalifa's go-to Taylor Gang golden geese, Cardo, Cobizzy sketches pictures of his upbringing and describes his desire to feed hip-hop despite long odds. Black Cobain has to keep the lyrical pace of a gazelle while he glides around detailing his hunger and obstacles. It's a lyrical meal worth devouring on site. —Dietrich Williams

DMV Reads

Some dribs and drabs: BBC Music names Kendrick Lamar and Frank Ocean the best of the year, so read Moore's reviews here; Moore tackles Substantial’s evocative “See Hear” video for MTV Hive; I pull together a 24-hour Spotify playlist for the Daily Dot (Oddisee's "Ready to Rock" included). —RR

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