Snoop Dogg’s Santa Brought His Gifts In A ’64 Impala Sleigh (Video)

What do you get when you mix Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg’s soaring vocals, an iconic Isaac Hayes sample and a nod to the Godfather of Soul? Christmas Rap, G-Funk style. Titled after the James Brown classic, “Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto” is the first track and lead single off of infamous West Coast record label Death Row’s often overlooked ’96 Christmas compilation, Christmas On Death Row.

As far as holiday raps go, this is one of Hip-Hop’s doper yuletide offerings. On it, Snoop, Daz Dillinger, Bad Azz and Tray Deee deliver verses riddled with Christmas iconography while the late, great Nate Dogg recites a simple, but evocative chorus: “Santa Claus is coming straight to the ghetto.” Although loosely based on the concept of Kris Kringle visiting the hood, each MC takes a somewhat different approach. For example, Daz opens the track with a verse about giving back to the community, while Snoop’s is more of a random assortment of Christmas references — though he does kick a line about handing out turkeys, something Death Row and Suge Knight famously did in Compton during the label’s reign.

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The video features Snoop as a youthful Santa, flying around with some of his Dogg Pound homies in a ’64 Chevrolet Impala convertible sleigh, sprinkling the hood in fairy dust with magic properties like the ability to turn a homeless man’s cheap liquor into an expensive bottle of champagne. Presumably back at the North Pole, jolly old Saint Snoop and his D.P.G. brethren kick it with some fly elves—and he also appears as a Church minister, at times, spittin’ his verse from the pulpit.

At the time, Snoop (who had just released Tha Doggfather), was preparing to introduce The LBC Crew on his newly-minted Doggystyle Records imprint. Tray and Bad Azz were members of the clique, who never were able to release albums in their time. Years later, under new Death Row ownership, LBC’s album (Haven’t You Heard) dropped (including Techneic, Lil C-Style, and South Centrelle). However, after Snoop left D.R. in 1998, Bad Azz would become a hopeful at 19th Street and Priority Records, while Tray would become a fixture in Da Eastsidaz.

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“Santa Claus Goes Straight To The Ghetto” is, if nothing else, a fun holiday throwback—so pour a cup of “Hen-dog” eggnog and get in the holiday spirit with the S-N-Double O-P and friends.

#BonusBeat: James Brown’s 1966 original:

Happy holidays to you and yours from Ambrosia For Heads.