80s Song of the Day: Christmas in Hollis by Run-DMC

Christmas in Hollis by Run-DMC was released November 25, 1987, with Peter Piper as the B side. It was originally released as a single from the Christmas compilation album A Very Special Christmas, which included artists such as Madonna, Pretenders, U2, Sting, and Whitney Houston. Proceeds from the sales of the album were donated to the Special Olympics. Christmas in Hollis was the only original composition on the album.

christmas-in-hollis-variantChristmas in Hollis, which refers to the Hollis, Queens neighborhood where Run-DMC grew up, samples Back Door Santa, a 1968 release by Clarence Carter, as well as holiday classics Frosty the Snowman, Joy to the World, and Jingle Bells.

The song didn’t chart upon its original release. In 2000, it reached No. 78 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart.


80s Song of the Day: Walk This Way by Run DMC

It wasn’t me she was foolin
Cause she knew what was she was doin
when she told me how to walk this way


Walk This Way by Run DMC was released on July 4, 1986, with King of Rock as the B side. It was a single from the hip hop group’s album Raising Hell. The song was a cover of an Aerosmith song originally released in 1975 and featured Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry on guest vocals and guitar, respectively. Continue reading

80s Song of the Day: Bust a Move by Young MC

So on the beach you’re strollin’ real high rollin’
Everything you have is yours and not stolen
A girl runs up with somethin’ to prove
So don’t just stand there bust a move

Bust a move 2Bust a Move by Young MC was released on May 22, 1989, with Got More Rhymes as the B side. It was a single from the rapper’s debut album, Stone Cold Rhymin’.

Bust a Move was Young MC.’s biggest hit. It reached No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 and was a No. 1 hit in Australia.

Watch the music video for the song.

45 RPMs: N.W.A Express Yourself

Blame it on Ice Cube… Because he says it gets funky
When you got a subject and a predacit

N.W.A’s been in the news a lot lately, thanks to the success of the movie Straight Outta Compton, their recent induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and reunion at Coachella over the weekend.



I didn’t listen to a lot of N.W.A in the 80s, but I discovered the song Express Yourself years later on the compilation album Yo! MTV Raps: A Journey Back in Rhyme. The song features Dr. Dre on the mic and samples Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band’s 1971 song Express Yourself. I instantly loved it – maybe it was the beat, the rhymes, or the fact that I was an English major and there’s very few songs that get funky with subjects and predacits.

straight outta compton

Straight Outta Compton LP

Written by Ice Cube, Express Yourself was released in 1989 as a single from N.W.A’s debut, groundbreaking album Straight Outta Compton. Although the song’s lyrics deal with free expression and radio censorship, Express Yourself is lighter sounding fare for N.W.A, which pioneered gangsta rap with Compton. It’s one of the group’s only songs not to contain profanity or violent content. Continue reading

45 RPMs: Beastie Boys Brass Monkey

I drink Brass Monkey and I rock well
I got a Castle in Brooklyn (that’s where I dwell)

beastie-1362673472This year marks the 30th anniversary of the release of the Beastie Boys‘ debut album Licensed to Ill. Like so many others, I’ve been obsessed with this entire album since 1986, and I always come back to Brass Monkey as one of my top tracks.

Brass Monkey was the second single released from Licensed to Ill with Posse in Effect as the B side. The song reached No. 48 on the Billboard Hot 100, which surprised me; I would have guessed it had charted higher. I remember this song being huge among my circle of friends when Licensed to Ill first came out. Beastie-BoysOf course, we were teenagers at the time, and I’m sure anything involving partying and alcohol seemed incredibly cool and intriguing, even if we had absolutely no idea at the time exactly what Brass Monkey was. (It was long thought the Beasties were rapping about a combination of malt liquor and orange juice, but in a 2014 interview, Mike D challenged everything we know to be real and true in this world by stating it was actually about a pre-mixed cocktail of dark rum, vodka, and orange juice. Say what?) Continue reading