Not everyone gets into the Christmas spirit with Bing Crosby or Nat King Cole. Some people prefer their seasonal music with an edgier twist -- and we're not talking about Justin Bieber's "Under the Mistletoe." That's where Doss the Artist and Hir-O come in, a Detroit rapper and producer who have recorded their own take on holiday music, "Peace King."
The EP, released online last week at Bandcamp, went from idea to finished product in a week, according to music site KevinNottingham.com, though you wouldn't know it from listening. Doss the Artist, real name Gabe Doss, explained that they wanted to turn the holiday album on its head.
"The album is meant to provoke thought, nod heads and explore a new territory in holiday perspectives," Doss said in an email. "This is not Bing Crosby's holiday album for the Christmas dinner table, as hip-hop has never quite found its proper place at the dinner table."
Doss said his favorite holiday album is Vince Guaraldi Trio's "A Charlie Brown Christmas" because it balances reverent and serene moments and energetic ones. You can hear the inspiration on "Bless," track five of "Peace King, which samples "Linus and Lucy."
Doss explained his and Hir-O's use of samples from Christmas specials and other odes to the holiday:
We were also inspired to add interludes between tracks that draw upon our generation's conscious memory of holiday entertainment that often ranges from crude and sarcastic to majestic and redeeming. We wanted the songs to capture all of these aspects of the holiday mood. So there are songs that bode on the absence of "Santa" in some communities, our memories of lost ones during the holidays and an optimistic look at where we are and all that we have. There's that, and then there are the tracks meant to be blasted at high volume while playing PS3 on christmas morning -- fully equipped with the raunch and wordplay you might expect from a rap album. Hir-O's production is so diverse that it never feels heavy.
The EP, which totals out at 15 mins, is supposed to be a journey through all these emotions via a Detroit lens. But we also intended for the listener to feel some familiarity with samples branching anywhere from "Charlie Brown" and "The Boondocks" to Donny Hathaway and Smokey Robinson.
Take a listen to "Peace King" and tell us what you think in the comments. Will the album make it into your holiday music rotation? It's certainly an antidote to songs like these: