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Meaning of the song ‘Christmas In Hollis’ by ‘Run–D.M.C.’

Released: 1988

“Christmas in Hollis” by Run-D.M.C. is a classic bop that flips the script on traditional holiday tunes, bringing in that raw hip-hop flavor to the typically serene Christmas genre. The track tells a compelling story, mixing in the festive spirit with street-smart narratives, while capturing the essence of a homegrown Christmas in a working-class neighborhood in Hollis, Queens.

The track kicks off with an extraordinary encounter on Christmas Eve. Our narrator spots a man with an unusual reindeer in the park, and the plot thickens when he sees that the man is Santa Claus, who mistakenly drops his wallet. Here we see the use of street slang like “illin'” which in this context means being surprised or shocked, and ‘G’s’, a common term for thousands of dollars.

The moral dilemma arises when our narrator finds a cool million in Santa’s wallet. There’s temptation – ‘enough to by a boat and matching car with ease’ – but ultimately, he decides to do the right thing, planning to return the lost wallet. This act reflects the core themes of honesty and integrity often explored in hip-hop storytelling.

However, as the hook breaks in, we learn that the “dough” was intended for the narrator. Hollis, Queens, gets a vivid description of a festive, homely, and joyful Christmas scene – mom’s cooking, presents under the tree, house decorations, and the warm ambiance of the yule log. A stark contrast to the gritty New York streets, illustrating how the holiday spirit can light up even the rawest of environments.

The final section of the track holds the spirit of Christmas within its lyrics, with D.M.C. himself dropping festive rhymes and wishes for a Merry Christmas and a happy New Year. References like ‘Jack Frost chillin’, the hawk is out’ are clever nods to the bitterly cold winters, with “the hawk” being a slang term for the harsh winter winds, commonly used in the Northeast.

Overall, “Christmas in Hollis” is a solid depiction of a neighborhood-focused, down-to-earth urban Christmas. It’s a piece that resonates with the love for one’s community and authenticity, prioritizing the meaning of the season over the material aspects, all while staying true to the roots of hip hop culture.

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