Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Death of "Holla"


Goulet and Rick Rubin have a lot in common. We’ve both rekindled the career of a living legend. We also wear boxers. At least I imagine a man of Rick’s commanding girth would choose boxers over the all-too-constricting “brief.” In 1993, when Craig Mack ruled the airwaves, Rick decided that the word DEF had been co-opted by pop culture in such a way that it needed to die. So he had a funeral and laid it to rest. DEF was five years old, which is 50 colloquial years (human x 10 = colloquial years). Ask Hawking if you don’t believe me, boo.

Fast-forward 13 years and we’ve got another word that needs to die: Holla. (aka Halla, Hollaback, Challah). Holla started out in 1757 AD as a term used for a yearly gathering of Sikhs in India. Picture a Bollywood Coachella. “Where you at?” “Holla Mohalla!” This made sense, because homeboy was actually there. The term lay dormant for a few centuries, until a few peeps (careful, this one’s next) unearthed the term to add some flava (you too) to their vocabularies. Jay-Z, Biggie, Fabolous and other hip hop artists made the term ubiquitous with hip hop culture, however this time with a different meaning. While Goulet doesn’t condone yelling at people, “holla at me” was not simply a passive request to contact the solicitor. It was a plea for understanding. That’s right, hip hop has feelings, too. You remember LL’s “I Need Love?” I could get all Nelson George on you, but I’ll leave that one for Spike Lee’s next joint.

Suffice to say, “Holla” soon took on more meanings, from a form of punctuation (“My toe! Holla!”), to a seal of approval (“Me like Mike & Ike! Holla!). This is when shit started getting out of control and “Holla” began to wear out its welcome. Martha Stewart used it with Busta on some vapid MTV-VHS award show and then some skinny girl from the Valley gave the word international exposure while flanked by Harajuku dancers. Had she gone Bollywood she would have brought Holla back to its roots (sorry - unavoidable pun), but she didn’t. Have you seen a map lately? Then, just as the death bell started to toll, I was suddenly awoken by the grating sound of a nail being pounded into the colloquial coffin. Somehow, “Holla” became “Challah.” Look, Goulet is an equal-opportunity entertainer. I enjoy a nice Challah French toast with a side of Manischewitz syrup as much as a trip to Sylvia’s Uptown for catfish. However, some things were never meant to go together. Like syrup and catfish. The tipping point had been reached, and “Holla” tipped its raggedy, confused ass right into a giant bowl of Absynthe-flavored irrelevance. When it emerged, it didn’t know its name, much less where it came from. The end has arrived, and it is my duty to put “Holla” out of its befuddled misery. Off to a better place, where you can run hand-in-hand with DEF as “Beeyotch” lies in a nursing home with tubes in its nose…

“Holla,” lived a long and colorful life, name-checked by hip hop stars and homemakers, rockers and rabbis, and was used to pepper many an entry in Rene Gouet’s blog. “Holla” was 60 colloquial years old.

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