“I had these people around me that were also making music,” says Christmas. “I remember walking around and going to our chill spot all the time and talking about [my song] “Daily,” like snapping, ‘This is the greatest song of all-time!’ ”
In 10 days he wrote that song, a minimalist account of a kid who’s foregone his roots after his father forced him early on to watch Do The Right Thing. Instead, he would wake up late, browse pictures of girls on the Internet, eat bad food, fall asleep again, laugh at cartoons, dream of being elsewhere.
As far back as 7th Grade, when he had a few friends and joined a “rapping club,” Christmas recognized his passion for rapping. But like cartoons, it became like an outlet, a mode of escape, something to block the pains of real life and what was going on around him.
Had his mother not put her foot down, he might’ve still been there, watching SpongeBob, instead of on his way to the studio.
“The reason why I was such a weird, outcast kid was because I was going to a new school every year,” explains Christmas. “My first couple schools got shut down ... I had no social connections to kids.”
Out of public school, Christmas landed himself at Boston Evening and Day Academy. “You go there when you’re essentially out of options,” he says.
Although it wasn’t terrible (for example, a professor came in from Harvard to screen classic art films) Christmas was too far gone. When they told him it’d be an extra two years before he graduated, he dropped out.
After “Daily,” Christmas began recording what would become Is This Art?, a response to the fakery, according to him, of rappers often seen on BET or MTV. To him, rap is about being real, being rugged, from Redman and ODB to his new fav, Dom Kennedy.
“The Cool Kids were like a huge influence for me growing up, but what I realized was ... I’m not cool,” he says.
So, as he rolls up to his pop’s pad to babysit his two sisters, Christmas gets ‘tight,’ or perturbed. He calls his engineer to postpone their session. Sitting in his pop’s apartment, he brings up a new beat in his inbox. He sets down his head and, as he’s done countless times before, puts pen to pad. But instead of the usual bitterness and sarcasm something fresh emerges. It's the first verse of “Still,” a song on Is This Art? featuring Mr. MFN eXquire.
“Everything I was about to record when I got to the studio went out the window, and I immediately recorded that song.”