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.


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