Christmas music tends to be somber stuff. Song tempos are often slow, verging on soporific. Singers lean heavily on the creamiest, most sentimental part of their vocal register. And lyrics tend towards the maudlin: “I’ll be home for Christmas, if only in my dreams;” “Last Christmas, I gave you my heart/ But the very next day, you threw it away;” “Christmas just ain’t Christmas without the one you love.”
Veteran rapper-producer Lil Jon has the antidote in the form of “All I Really Want for Christmas,” an overwhelmingly energetic entry in the seasonal canon that is sure to enliven a dreary playlist. The unruly, pile-driving beat reaches back to the early 2000s crunk hits that made Lil Jon a household name. Lyrically, he could care less about “who’s naughty and nice” — this song celebrates the unchecked acquisitive spirit: “All I really want for Christmas is everything on my list,” the rapper asserts, delivering the line with his usual emphatic flair.
Over the course of a two-decade-plus career, Lil Jon has been a part of massive singles in hip-hop, R&B and EDM, but recording a Christmas track remains an important moment for him. “I’ve been wanting to do a Christmas song for forever,” he says. “I could never get the right inspiration to get it done though … I wanted to do something fun for young and old, and I think that mission is accomplished.”