“Something, something, ni**a I aint bluffin/ always money in the business that banana stand budget/ did you get that, you didn’t, then you didn’t listen…I think I’m Michael Cera”
A few Sundays ago, I impulsively attended a live show at the Brighton Music Hall featuring Michael Christmas as the headlining performer. Fully unaware of who he was, I was initially interested in seeing Alex Wiley, who literally had just dropped “Village Party” only days before. I had barely listened to the album twice from start to finish, but was impressed enough that I wanted to see Wiley deliver the goods live on stage, especially since the album had been hyped up like no other. In the interest of doing a little bit of homework prior to the show, I stumbled across a combo Wiley-Christmas joint called “Step Brothers”, which definitely provided some witty hip-hop banter and pop culture references. Plus, after a little bit of digging, I realized that Michael Christmas was a Boston native. Given that Boston’s hip-hop scene isn’t exactly booming, I found that to be a welcome surprise.
When I first saw Michael Christmas, it wasn’t on stage, but greeting nearly every person walking through the door or lingering outside the venue. The man had a magnetic energy and boisterous laugh, and I’m not sure I saw him not smiling most of the time. Given the typical hip-hop acts you encounter, seeing someone so exuberant and positive prance around with a child-like giddiness is almost a little jarring. What the hell was wrong with him? Is he hammered or maybe stoned off of marijuana? No, after some time, I came to realize that Christmas was simply amped to be headlining a show in his hometown with a bunch of his friends and fans out to support him. Ironically enough, Michael Christmas might be one of the realest, most self-actualized emcees I’ve ever seen perform. There’s no swag or pretense, no projected hardness or gimmick. Basically, he just likes to eat junk food, smoke weed, masturbate, make hilarious jokes and mock his own awkward, overweight, goofiness. Compared to Wiley, who seemed to be way too self-aware and anxious about performing his new album, Christmas absolutely killed it during his set, damn well forcing me to purchase his mixtape “Is This Art?”. After all, anyone who chooses to open up their performance with the theme song from Pokemon “Gotta Catch Em All” deserves my $5.
I’ve spent the last few weeks bumping the album, and I have to say, it is sheer enjoyment to listen to. The same charisma and energy that Christmas brought to the stage permeates the whole album. He’s hilarious, weird, absorbed in pop culture, frequently high (I can assume) and way too self-deprecating to not be both creative and surprising. On tracks like “Michael Cera”, he employs his monotone voice to comically point out his bumbling, klutzy, not-so-sexy habits, chock full of Christmas’ constant pop culture references. On tracks like “Duck Duck Goose”, there’s that smooth flow conveying to us the complete randomness of Christmas’ success while an acknowledgment that he’s really just there to rap. Sure there’s that paper chase, but really, Christmas just wants to have fun while spittin. Most of his tracks are peppered with this sentiment, and the album is accompanied by some versatile production, plus some pretty awesome guest appearances from the likes of Rome Fortune and Mr. MFN eXquire.
Somewhere along the lines, Michael Christmas fell through the cracks of my hip-hop radar. But homeboy should not be slept on. Be sure to click the link to download his album below.