"Merry Christmas Lil' Mama Re-Wrapped" delivers the best of the year's holiday music just days before Christmas.
Three days before Christmas 2016, Jeremih and Chance the Rapper dropped Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama—a mixtape that had all the hallmarks of Chance’s work the rest of the year. It had a spiritual, moral and socially active backbone as well as a clear sense of place. It was unquestionably an urban album, and “I’m Your Santa” moves to Chicago stepping’s trademark groove.
Yesterday, they released Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama Re-Wrapped on Soundcloud, and the new release includes last year’s mixtape as well as 10 new songs that on their own win this year’s Christmas music derby. Sia’s Everyday is Christmas gives a big, effusive smooch to Christmas and all its lore with no elf, reindeer or snowman left behind, but Jeremih and Chance describe a holiday that feels real. Their Christmas season focuses on their family, their community, and the ways people show love. There’s no frivolity on Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama Re-Wrapped, and at times the year weighs on them. In “Family For,” he describes a gathering that ends with him and his cousins screaming, “Fuck the President.” Still, Chance also recalls shaking hands with Obama, and that balance helps him land the guarded optimism and grounded positivity that thread through the mixtape.
Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama Re-Wrapped also sounds seasonal, though sleigh bells only rarely appear. Instead, the arrangements evoke city sidewalks, snowfall, and silent nights without quotes or samples to do the hard work. As such, the mixtape sidesteps the seasonal trap of avoiding lyrical and musical clichés by making music that’s joyless. Jeremih and Chance may be a little short on romantic love despite the title, but Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama Re-Wrapped is the second installment in a series that could easily become as beloved at Christmas time as the acclaimed EPs by Sufjan Stevens.
Merry Christmas Lil’ Mama Re-Wrapped is available for download at Chanceraps.com.