Because the enterprise of Christmas music is rising so quick – it occupies 5 of the highest 10 locations on the Billboard Sizzling 100 this week – we’re re-presenting a few of our tales from Christmas previous. This piece, about how two former Billboard staffers produced the vacation hit “Christmas Rappin’” for then-up-and-coming rapper Kurtis Blow, initially ran in 2019. Since then, in 2020, Robert Ford handed away.
One groundbreaking Christmas hit didn’t simply make the Billboard charts — it was produced by two former staff. In 1979, J.B. Moore and Robert Ford left the journal to supply “Christmas Rappin’ ” for an up-and-coming rapper named Kurtis Blow. Launched on Mercury Information, the only went gold, and Blow turned the primary rapper to signal a major-label deal.
At Billboard, Moore was an advert salesman who typically wrote music opinions, and Ford was a manufacturing supervisor who additionally wrote a column about R&B. They each knew that hip-hop represented the way forward for music — Public Enemy’s Chuck D has cited a 1978 article by Ford as one of many first mentions of the style in a nationwide publication. Even so, they didn’t get any curiosity from A&R executives in New York, in order that they took “Chrismas Rappin’ ” to Chicago-based Mercury Information, the place John Stainze, a latest switch from the label’s U.Ok. workplace to its West Coast operations, satisfied Mercury that the track would recoup its prices (about $6,000, remembers Moore) in the UK alone.
“Christmas Rappin’ ” — a track “ ’bout a red-suited dude with a pleasant perspective” — wasn’t initially supposed to be a Christmas tune. Moore, who wrote the lyrics, determined to provide it a vacation theme as a result of labels like songs they’ll promote each December. “Christmas Rappin’ ” turned out to be one: It peaked at No. 53 on the R&B/Hip-Hop Airplay chart in 1995 and at No. 35 on Sizzling Rap Songs in 1999.
“It took Mercury ceaselessly to understand how large it was,” says Moore, who with Ford went on to supply Blow’s landmark “The Breaks” and work with the R&B group Full Drive. “I’m sitting right here observing my gold report that must be platinum.”
This text initially appeared within the Dec. 21 difficulty of Billboard.