Christmas Cheer with Mndsgn and Ahwlee ‘A Rap Vacation X-Mas’

Image from rapvacation.bandcamp.com

The most basic formula Hip-Hop could follow is taking an older record, flipping it around and looping the music, then adding a few smidges of the MPC’s drum and snare pads. Contextually, the genre’s impetus has been linked to the elongated catalog of older Jazz records.

Jazz and the holiday season go hand-in-hand, so it’s inevitable that Hip-Hop would take its approach to emulate Jazz’s holiday merriment. Hip-Hop may also simplify Jazz’s essential formula, relying more on prosthetic patterns rather than concentrated free-play.

Although Hip-Hop’s potential is more simple than Jazz’s, it took until now to witness and hear the inspired holiday projects that are scattering from left to right in the genre’s market.


Stones Throw’s Mndsgn is one of music’s exceptional cases. Each of Mndsgn’s projects differs in aesthetic and context. As Body Wash meditated on the step and groove era of Parliament Funkadelic, Yawn Zen focused on the meditative qualities first introduced and laid out by the likes of Matthew Herbert.

Image from mndsgn.bandcamp.com

Reciprocating his inspiration is looping proliferate Ahwlee. Ahwlee is amongst the herd of Hip-Hop producers that carry a knack for odd sounds and frivolous dialogues and mashes them together to make an all-around cohesive and enjoyable genre. From what Knxwledge conducted as his esoteric frame of output is now a well-respected effort that Hip-Hop could produce.

The end result of the collaboration is mostly a dedication to the wonders of what Hip-Hop can introduce to the holidays. The project is filled with beats that sample recognizable homages from older cultural specials and records, such as A Charlie Brown Christmas and Ice Cube’s Friday series.

Image from amazon.com

Each beat on their own stand on their own feet, making themselves conspicuous within the grouping of glowing ornaments. The project is compiled into seventeen short, looped tracks. These tracks pay tribute to the iconic media that is listened to and watched year after year since their screen exposure.

The project divides the efforts of both producers in half. The first half is reserved for Mdnsgn’s hand, as the second half is constructed by Ahwlee’s touch.

Mndsgn’s first track after the expository excerpt of Giveaways is the track The Weather. This track sets up the primitive yet humble feeling for his portion of the compilation. There are just enough Christmas chimes and bass loops that play over a crooning female voice.

Image from thehundreds.com

The beat entitled Skates, constructed by Mndsgn, samples the music that plays during the introduction of the title card presenting A Charlie Brown Christmas. The sample piece is fractured apart, as some parts are used in repetition under the occasional thumping drums. The track is fast and whirling, but humble for its effort.

The track Northpolemetro samples the song I’ll Be Home For Christmas from Carpenters. Adding hue to the essence is Mndsgn’s spin with unique, shining chords. The track Doodoogifts reduces some aspects of holiday music to single fibers and looping them in accordance with one another.


Ahwlee’s portion of the project is just as cheery and humbling. Some of my favorite tracks from him are Tiffani s[010], Gay, and Wht To Do. The track Tiffani s[010] holds cheery, simple Christmas music in a loop, all while hilariously sampling the dialogue between Smokey and Worm from the first Friday film.

Image from ocweekly.com

The track Gay is a sultry loop that reminds me the most of a typical Knxwledge track. Ahwlee loops heartwarming chords as well as fractured dialogue, rattling them both with simmering drums and robotic pads.

Wht To Do pulls the holiday cheer from 20th-century R&B Christmas music gives a standard Hip-Hop twist to it. In a similar fashion Knxwledge conducts his loops, the track’s elements are chopped up and arranged in a manner that flows through gorgeously, even under the staccato form.


This is by no means an ambitious compilation by these two musicians. It wasn’t meant to be. The holiday season is about taking a seat back and being thankful for the uplifting aspects of your life.

Mndsgn and Ahwlee are past this stage and are now cultivating their prime years. But back in 2013, when everything was good and simple, something like this just can’t help but be made for such a good and simple season.

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