hella gay uncles

While reading up on Macklemore’s song “Same Love”, I came across an article on the Huffington Post which says that Macklemore’s “four ‘hella gay’ uncles were an influence”:

Macklemore Talks ‘Same Love’ Inspiration, Homophobia In Hip-Hop

I thought that was a little weird, but didn’t think too deeply about it… until I saw the full quote. Here’s a transcript of the relevant dialog (from his interview with Angie Martinez in NYC):

AM: You have a gay uncle, right?

Macklemore: I have hella gay uncles.

AM: “Hella gay uncles”!?

Macklemore: Hella gay uncles!

AM: How does that – how do you have multiple gay uncles?

Macklemore: Well, on my dad’s side out of like his four brothers two of those brothers are gay. And then they have their respective partners, and I consider those my uncles as well, so that makes four gay uncles….

Macklemore Speaks On Having ‘Hella’ Gay Uncles [VIDEO]

As it turns out, the phrase “hella gay uncles” is actually ambiguous: “hella” could be a modifier on an adjective (i.e., “very gay uncles”), or it could be a noun quantifier (i.e., “many gay uncles”). However, the context makes it clear that Macklemore is using “hella” in its capacity as a quantifier. Whoever wrote the article on HuffPo was either confused or not familiar with the noun-quantifier sense of the word “hella”.