MC Hammer Interview pt 1
MC Hammer Interview
Whatcha been up to Hammer?.. Pt 1

by Davey D 6/97

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This interview was conducted with Hammer abouta couple of months ago.. He came through the station and let me peep out his new lp... Which is the bomb.. Afterwards me Hammer sat down and spoke for almost two hours.. Whether or not you like his music..One thing i've come to find out about Hammer... He's a very smart individual.. And he's nobody's punk... He dropped a whole lot of science on everything ranging from the east/west coast war.. To Suge knight to his philosophy on hip hop... Check this interview out and get back at me.. To let me know what you think...

Davey D

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Davey D: It's been awhile since people have heard or seen you. What has Hammer been doing over the last couple of years? Since his last album?

MC Hammer: Well you know I've been sittin' back, Davey, makin' sure that when I do come back musical speaking, I wanted to make sure that the project was real tight. Because you know whenever Hammer does something it's going be scrutinized... So I had to make sure that the music is tight, that it's lyrically tight and that people can have a good time and at the same time receive something....Like some substance... You know I always try to put that positive touch on things.. So I been actually just gettin' myself together, recognizing and preparing to come back out.

Davey D: For most people the last thing they really remember about Hammer, is that he went from baggy pants to having a more hardened, gangsta type image and there was some criticism about it. Now that Hammer is in the '97, is Hammer going back to what has been his original image or is he coming with something different? How should we expect Hammer?

MC Hammer: Well, when we say image, we have to understand that clothing does not change a person's character, so i've never done what they call gangsta rap that's not my thing. That's the next man's thing if thats how he chooses to come more power to him. But as for Hammer, i've always done the type of music that's entertaining and fun. From 'it's all good' all the way back to 'let's get it started'.

There was someone who wanted to label me because I didn't wear the same clothes that I wore in 1988 or 1989...No one is wearing what they wore in '88 or '89. People wanted to say 'oh well, Hammer got on the clothes that people are wearing today, he must be a hard core gangsta but the music remained the same.

now in 1997 I will choose once again, go into my closet and choose some attire I feel appropriate for 1997, but the music is what's important. The music is gonna be once again fun, positive and uplifting and at the same time there will be some songs that are very serious.

Davey D: Within hip hop community especially among some of the more insider types, there has always been criticism that have been launched at Hammer. They said that your music isn't real hip hop. There have been criticisms that state that your decision to do advertisements and things like that were sellout moves and that Hammer wasn't real hip-hop. How do you respond to all that?

MC Hammer: Well, we have to realize the truth about the person who is a hip-hop insider. Most of these people are not really insiders. They are people who are chosen to do an interview and they will make a statement and say that they are a part of the hip-hop culture, but from an intellectual standpoint, they are not very sharp, because back in '1990..'91 one would criticize somebody for doing one type of commercial and say that's not real hip-hop and then another rapper turns around and sell them malt liquor and say that's real hip hop.

who would want to be considered a part of a culture or an insider..A man who is educated.Or someone who wants to be a part of a click that doesn't even understand what they are saying or speaks from both sides of their mouth?

that is the problem that we have with the so-called hip hop culture today... I think our foundation is a bunch of people who don't have any education. So one day they'll say one thing the next day they'll say another they'll say 'don't do a commercial' then it's 'let's do a commercial'. One day it's don't do tv shows', now it's ok to have hip-hop artists with sitcoms.... Everything that one sets their mind to do is in today and out tomorrow so we have to get to the point in the hip hop generation where we understand what we truly want. We have to know what it is and we also have to choose our responsibilities a little better, because people cannot represent us when they don't have the knowledge to represent us.

Davey D: What is it that you feel hip hoppers should be striving for in `97? Is it a business ? Is it a culture ? Should we doing it for the love of the music? Do you do it for the money for the love of the music or what?

MC Hammer: Well, everything you do in life you have to do if it's an art. A baseball player, makes a lot of money does we play for the money or does we play for the baseball? When he was a young man, 10 years old, and he was not on the little league field he was playing cause he loved the game. You never lose the love of the game. I been dancing and making music when I was 4 or 5 years old, so i'm always gonna have love for what I do. The fact that i'm paid for what I do is a blessing... I love the music and i'm glad that it is also the way I make my living...You never lose the love for it.

Davey D: Let me go back to some of the more recent things that people have found you to be in the headlines for. One of the most prominent things was your decision to go on to Death Row. Tell us about your experience there, what has happened with Death Row.. And are you still with Death Row?

MC Hammer: Well, #1 my decision to be a part of the Death Row family came about because Suge Knight and I have a relationship that goes back all the way back to about 1987-88....Suge called me asked me would I like to join the family... Of course, with the marketing machine that Death Row has, and the way that Suge knew how to get behind an artist and push his music and also the fact that Suge Knight was and still CEO of what the so-called insiders would call a gangsta rap label wanted to put MC Hammer on his label...Well, what do they say? It said what I had always said that music is music. When the head of the so-called hardest label in america would call and say Hammer, 'I want you to put your music down on my label', I knew that this would be a good opportunity to go out here and set the record straight and clean up some of the position that was put out by journalist media that exploit the music and culture. This was an opportunity to clear a lot of that up by me aligning myself with Suge and Death Row.

Davey D: Talk about the exploitation. You had mentioned this at one point, but you said that there had been a lot of exploitation going on within hip hop and culture. Explain how you see that exploitation and where is it now?

MC Hammer: Well, let me say this. It's ignorance. We have been lead as the hip hop generation. We have been once again lead by people who are under qualified. It's like they just got a pair of new jeans..They just started wearing them below their belt 2 months ago. They get a job at a magazine or radio station, and they say they represent the hip hop culture, but if you were to really asked them on a knowledgeable basis. What do they know about our industry, not just as the hip hop culture, but as african americans, they can't get technical. They don't have real facts, so what we need to do is and what my point is that the hip hop generation needs to focus. And once we focus we can build and in order to do that we have to start at the beginning and that is to understand that music itself is just music.

Davey D: Who do to see as viable people that we should be looking towards within hip hop. I ask you that very seriously because I remember a time that you had a conversation with chuck d and krs-1, and during that conversation, you seem to be doing a lot of teaching and they were listening which I think a lot of people would have found surprising. Considering the images that people have had of all 3 artists. Who are the leaders within the hip hop culture. Who should we be following? Who do you think is misleading?

MC Hammer: Well, follow who you want to follow. It depends on what your fantasies are. You understand. People have different fantasies in life. The suburban culture. Always dream of being gangstas. If you ever knew little kids when they were little.. They always wanted to be cowboys and indians. Somebody wanted to be the good and somebody wanted to be the bad guy. Every kid in the ghetto dream of being rich, and rich kid wants to be a gangsta. The docotomy that exist, and what i'm stating is that, we should look to whoever it is an individual that we want to follow. Now if you looking for an intelligent representation of the hip hop culture, then I could name some individuals. But if you fantasy is to be a gangsta then I'll tell you somebody else. Then if your fantasy is to be a business person and still love this music and still have fun, then I'll have somebody else. It depends on what direction you want to go in. That's who you should follow.

Davey D: Let's talk about the intelligent side and the business side, who should we be following? Who sets good examples for us to start emulating within hip hop?

MC Hammer: Well i've always been a friend of chuck Ds, but you know I like a lot of the things that he says, krs-1, I like a lot of the things that he said. This is not clicheŠ, because one of the things that I always have a problem with is the hip hop culture is that there is a lot of individuals who say clicheŠ things. In other words the new things they say today is 'i'm keepin it real' but what does that really mean? Because keepin' it real is not when I go out and pick up a magazine and I read the article and it's nothing but explicits. That's not keeping it real, because when I talk to most of my partners in this rap game, every second word is not an explicit. That ain't how it goes.

when you read that in some of the magazines, it would leave one to believe that we only speak with explicits. You're not keepin it real and that's one of the things I want to focus on as a veteran artist is that lets change the concept what's real... Because a lot of the things they say is real fake. Take out the fakeness and let's put real back in there. We are educated.

Davey D: What do you see as being fake?

MC Hammer:being fake to pretend like when you have a conversation. That your conversation is always laced with explicits. How can a rap artist be so intelligent is the deliver his music with metaphors, they hook up intellectual lives, they do all of these things...Very bright minds, then all of a sudden their doing an interview and when you read it, one is led to believe the person only talks in broken english and bad sentences and that the very essence of ebonics is what this person's dialogue is built upon. That is not true. Lets start keeping it real. I'm saying to a lot of my partners who are rap artists, 'man when y'all do your next interview, speak without using all them explicits'... Not because you can do it, but because you are some type of role model to somebody. Let your fans know that when you want to speak one way you and can and when you want to speak another, you can also do that. But you decide that on a larger level that you are going to speak this way, cause our want to influence your fans to be intelligent.

Davey D: The east/west coast war. That was something that really put a black mark on hip hop. Let's go back to it, because in some ways since i've known you, I could say that Hammer was somebody that definitely planted some seed a long time ago when he did the video dissin' run DMC. There's been that competitive nature and it has moved from pint a to something that has just gotten totally out of hand. How have to seen this whole east/weest coast thing? Is it something that has gotten blown out of proportion? Is it okay to have the competitiveness in rap? And how have you seen your role within that?

MC Hammer: I won't let you get away with that one. The things that run DMC and I did way back in the early 80's, does not compare to all the ignorance that's done today. Run and I are the best of friends. If I call the good reverend on the telephone, were gonna have an intelligent conversation. You'll hear us tell each other I love you and I love you back... Because we understand what we are doing... Even if we had a difference, we never let it get to the point that we wanted to be violent with each other.

I see jam master jay flying different places, we conversate and we laugh about years ago, as a matter of fact, I invited run dMC to become a part of Death Row about a year ago. As a matter of fact, the night Tupac was shot we had run dMC at the club 662 in Las Vegas with the purpose of building a relationship so that we could sign them to Death Row since Death Row was expanding. So once again, were not on the page of east/west coast rivalry thing. You know, I talked to Suge and we brought Erica B in from New York to be the president of Death Row east, so I was all about trying to get this thing to a peace position, certainly not a violent position and my position has always been I don't care where your from.

let me give you an example Davey, on my new album, you'll hear me say some things about too short. I am not being violent with too short, but on several albums of he's made comments about MC Hammer directly and indirectly. It comes a time that a person must put an end to that. I'm not gone start something, I'm gone finish it. I'm going to finish those indirect innuendoes that he makes on his records, but don't want to be violent with too short. No it's not necessary. I'm a check him on these records, the same way that he checked me and we gone leave it at that, and when I see him in the streets, I'm say what's up Todd {too short's real name] how ya feeling?

Davey D: How should people interpret those sort of things now that there has been this perception that things can get out of control? I ask that, cause I went back to the whole run DMC thing because, once upon a time you had these rivalries and they just remained rivalries. The fact that you were able break bread and be friends and laugh at that is something that you don't see happening these days. Everybody seems to take things so personal. And it seems that things have moved to a whole new level. How should one look at this situation when they hear your new record or is it something we should look at and all? Do I need to decide whether or not I'm a Hammer fan or a too short fan. Is it something that you see as a media may look at and try to exploit it is it something that we need to look at from a totally different perspective that hasn't been spoken about?

MC Hammer: Well, the media can't exploit me. You see they can't exploit me cause I'm gonna speak for myself. I would call Davey D up and say, I need to talk to you on your show street knowledge, things are getting out of hand we have the use of these airwaves and let's get a hold of this thing. Let's talk. I use to do that with Arsenio. When I would think something out there was being improperly spoken on my behalf or concerning me, I would try to access these airwaves and use this media to straighten it out. People shouldn't want to draw sides, but if you want to that's human, but don't be in place of us.

in other words, I'm from the old school. If I got a problem with you. That's between me and you. It ain't me and my partners and you and your partners, I don't have to hide behind my partners, I don't need that east/west coast rivalry. I name your name. Its me and you. If your geographical location is Virginia, then that's where you live. I'll tell you by name. I got a problem with such and such, I don't have a problem with your whole state. See the east/west coast rivalry is a fallacy, why? Because its not even the whole east coast. Everybody that somebody had a problem with basically lived in New York. So what about all the other states that exist on the east coast? They had nothing to do with that, but once again I have to say this...Many who represent the hip hop generation the hip hop culture. They are un-learned people. And if they are learned then they are playing games. They shouldn't do that. You know we are smarter than that as a culture and as a people.

You know good and well there ain't no rivalry with a whole coast..Especially if we narrow it down to who is who and who has a problem with who. Who is your problem with? And I'd say this very freely to 2Pac... Man, in this so called east coast west coast we're gonna have to narrow this down man, you can't fight the whole coast and that's real man personal battle is a personal battles name names so other individuals not involved won't get involved and make it bigger. Because it can get out of hand. You can't have the fans who love you, and support you will see a certain artist on the streets and on your behalf try to serve them.

Davey D: What was it like working with Pac and Suge Knight. What were they like behind the scenes?

MC Hammer: 2 Pac...I really had genuinely brotherly love for Pac when I became a part of the Death Row family, he immediately ran into the studio and woke up the next morning. I had told him about a sang I wanted to do. It was off the Ohio players skin tight I wanted to called it too tight . Before I could get to the studio 2 Pac had gotten up early that morning went to the studio, called in the background singers, laid down the background, wrote a rap he wanted me to rap and it was done. He immediately embraced his partner from the town.

I knew the real 2 Pac not what journalist write about. Where they say they've down with Pac and all that exploitation to make the magazine sell more or make radio station sound better. Somebody wants pretend like because he came by for one interview that they really knew him. But they didn't know him. I knew 2 Pac behind the scenes. This was a genuine, talented young man. This was at the same time a very emotional was, a troubled man. A man that you would really respect and love. He was all of those things.

it was a sad situation for me as his friend as are who stood over his bed in the hospital to see him there in that condition. It brought everything to head for me to say Hammer what could you have done as a friend and as an artist and as a man to have prevented this. I really said to myself on a few occasions that I might could've help stop this thing. Maybe I should've slows Pac down a little bit at times, and I live and wrestle with that a lot cause I was there. I was there in Las Vegas. I saw him right before it happened. He came up to my car and was talking to me. He told me about the incident that had just happen. I asked him some questions about it cause I was concerned. He said it was all squashed. And don't worry about it. And then 15 minutes later he's lying on the sidewalk. Its a very deep situation .

I felt as though that a lot of responsibility just like I accept mine. That at some point the media who likes to remain faceless in situations like this have a lot of responsibility. It was really good to hype up the East vs. West coast war. It sold a lot of magazines, it made radio and television interesting. By hyping this thing up and how when individuals lie there lifeless everybody wanna back up and pretend like they don't have anything to do with this and they wanna ask how can we solve this. We could've solved this by not exploiting this from the beginning.

Davey D: What about Suge Knight?

MC Hammer: What I'll say about Suge is this. Everybody who grew up in a neighborhood had an individual that was like the big man of the neighborhoods. While many in another neighborhood would fear him.. He would be your partner. So while over around the lake they were sacred to death of him. But you came onto high street, he's buying everybody ice cream. That's Suge Knight. Suge knight had a lot of people fear him and I'm not gonna sugar coat him and say he didn't have his altercations and handle his business and what not. That was Suge as well, but with MC Hammer, we were friends. We were even closer than friends.

I know his mother. He has helped my mother in a situation and were not talking economics or anything like that, he defended my mom out on the streets. It was at a concert and people got out of hand. Suge saw my mother he ran over there and got my mother and had to knock people out and took my mother all the way to her car. And made sure my mother was safe.

I know a different Suge Knight. I know the other side when he called me. He didn't call me while I was selling 25 million records, he called me while everyone was saying I don't know about Hammer. Suge called and said Hammer came on and get down with Death Row. I know the Suge Knight that gave mother's day dinners to all of the mothers in the heart of the inner city. Her would take them and spend 2-3 hundred thousand dollars on bringing in the best talent, bring them into Beverly hills hotel, even though he knows this is not the traditional place where a person who doesn't have the means would be. He would provide then with dinner and flowers. That's the side of Suge Knight. I deal with Suge was and is a friend to me.

Davey D: What is Hammer doing now and are you still at Death Row? How will your new music be marketed?

MC Hammer: I'm not gonna do any shoppin'. What I am doing is putting music out. I'm 10 years in the game and I know how to handle this and deal with this. The fact is that it's no secret that there are numerous attacks on the label, and the entity of Death Row, so being a person who has to be wise and understand whets going on I know that it is best for me as a businessman to make sure that I get my music out so that I can provide for my family and for those who look to me for support. While my partner's company is going through trials and tribulations, the music will be out there soon as you know it's already on the radio. My new label is called defense. Its defense, music, defense records and defense arts. Everybody can be on offense but defense is gonna win the game.

Davey D: Is it an independent label?

MC Hammer: More or less but on today's level. We have more tools to use today than we did 10 years ago. Davey D: You're being cool about this. Are you an independent? Are you shopping a deal?

MC Hammer: In due time, you have to know how to use the media. Now what I'm speaking of is radio, so I know how to use the media. Everybody who is looking to buy the album... It'll be in your stores, how it got there is not important, as long as it can get to your radio, CD player and into your house. That's what's important.

Davey D: Let's talk about all your outside activities. I hear your doing movies and there's a possible talk show in the works. Are you moving from music into movies?

MC Hammer: One should never limit oneself. There are lots of things an individual can do... You can certainly do movies and music that's easy. Once you do a record it's done. If you're talented enough you can do some other things. I'm doing movies. I have a sitcom. The movie is a pilot for another sitcom. I'm real excited about that. The movie is called connections, but you never know by the time it comes out, they may change the name. I did this particular film for show time. There's a strong possibility this may be launched with a concert. It will be MC Hammers family affair. Which is the name of my album. I also just completed a one hour special on VH-1, which is a documentary on the life of MC Hammer. I'm just continuing to work and entertain.

Davey D: What's your connection to Holyfield and boxing. Also with Tyson being out, who do you roll with since your friends with both?

MC Hammer:Holyfield is a friend...What I did with Holyfield was simply tried to take the pressure of all the business off him at the time so he could concentrate on winning the championship back which he did. At this particular time I'm not his manager. I'm concentrating on Hammer and moving my career forward. But I also am a friend and will continue to be a friend of Mike Tyson. I watch then both from a distance, because once again I know what goes on behind the scenes. And what you see in the end result, it's two combatants, two athletes who are in the ring fighting. But there are lots of things that go into making it a fight or fight night. I respect them both and I respect what they do. I'm gonna continue to be a friend to both. It's like rap music, they're just boxing. It's not like after they hate each other. They're just getting paid, handling their business.

end of part 1.. We'll have part 2 posted sometime next week

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