Moka Only might not be a household name in the States, but this Canadian hip hop artist has put out forty records since his debut in the mid-nineties, earning him the nickname “The Most Prolific.” This is the latest installment in a Christmas series he started in 2007. It definitely doesn’t sound like most Christmas albums I’ve come across, and for that I’m grateful.

Hailing from Vancouver, Moka has led the way for Canadian West Coast hip hop. I’m not familiar with the scene, but if this album is any indication, I’ll definitely be listening to more. It’s smooth, laid-back, and jazzy, very much in my wheelhouse. The production is great, and at times carries the album. Not a knock at the lyrics, but there are some great instrumental sections, most notably the piano and guitar interplay at the end of “Industrial Ave.” If I was going to put him alongside another producer, it would be Madlib. They both have a knack for switching up samples and beats, but keeping the musical flow going, like the way “Morning Glory and Blob” moves back and forth from a hard-hitting Sly Stone sample to a smooth R&B groove. There are some occasional sleigh bells throughout, but the only other elements to make this a Christmas album are lyrical, so I don’t feel like I have to keep this on the shelf for the other eleven months of the year, which is nice.

The lyrics on this album do make me wonder if it’s a common practice to bake some weed into your gingerbread cookies in Vancouver. Not that stoner culture is praised obsessively here, but there are a few ruminations on ice cream flavors or which type of Christmas tree smells best that make me giggle. Moka is a capable emcee, though, and he manages to keep it interesting and talk about what Christmas means to him and his family without getting too preachy or sentimental.

In summary, I now have a new hip hop scene to learn about and a Christmas album that doesn’t rehash the same old songs that we’re all tired of – I think we have a winner.