Christmastime is full of surprises. Some great and some not so much. However, we think we’ll put the latest project from Chicago natives Chance the Rapper and Jeremih into the former category. The singer and the rapper have collaborated on a new Christmas mixtape entitled Merry Christmas Lil Mama, and are providing us with a little trap and extra thump for our holiday get-togethers. The nine-track project is inspired by many of our favorite Christmas standards as well as contemporary R&B.
The first track, “All The Way” featuring Noname and Hannibal Buress, starts off with the infamous “You’ll shoot your eye out” quote from A Christmas Story. What follows is the guys and Noname repeating their verses to create a somewhat pleasing cacophony of trap-esque sounds, ending with Hannibal Buress hating on the gift giving holiday. On “I’m Your Santa,” Jeremih takes some inspiration from Michael Jackson’s “Butterflies,” to serenade his lady love. “Chi Town Christmas” is a slight journey through sound, as the guys utilize a cappella harmonies, horns and synths in a stark arrangement to describe December 25th in their hometown. The project ends with the title song, “Merry Christmas Lil Mama,” a sparse bass track celebrating having a good time and wishing Baby Jesus a happy birthday.
While those songs were instant winners, there are a few that might take a couple more listens before they're ready for prime time. On “Snowed In,” Jeremih and Chance trade raps about staying warm and getting some good lovin’ while being snowed in. “Stranger at the Table,” inspired by The Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back,” is a sweet makeup to break up tune, with old school bass guitar, chimes and some sped up drums and hi-hats. “Joy,” a piano and organ-led ballad, is about keeping Christmas as a time for love, joy and to forget our troubles. Then there’s “I Shoulda Left You,” the obligatory bitter Christmas anthem, where the boys, joined by Lud Foe, talk about their exes and how 2016 was the worst year ever, but they’re still going to be alright. Finally, on “The Tragedy,” old record pops, violins and sharp harmonies set the mood as Chance and Jamila Woods share the story of an old homeless man trying to find some place warm.
While this Christmas mixtape may not exactly be the holiday album we’ll listen to with the fam at Christmas dinner, it’s a decent project to keep you in the spirit while you suffer in long lines trying to buy the last Hatchimal or want to avoid listening to the latest remake of “This Christmas.” We’ll probably add “All the Way,” “Joy,” “I’m Your Santa” and the title track to our Christmas playlists. Let us know if you’re feeling Chance and Jeremih’s late entry into the Christmas music race, and if it makes your heart grow three sizes larger or you wanna say bah humbug!