Many of us within Hip Hop have severely underestimated MC Hammer and now we’re coming to see that he was light years ahead of the curve in terms of how one should approach business and even approach music.
In pt1 we go over several key facets about Hammer’s career that he should be vindicated for including him being among the first rapper’s to spark endorsement deals. He gives a serious breakdown about how folks made fun of him and wanted to ban him from Hip Hop only to turn around years later and seek these revenue streams now that they realize the music business can be extremely shady when it comes to getting paid. Hammer takes us deep by talking about how major record labels are now hijacking artists and attaching themselves to some of the lucrative endorsement deals that are being offered today.
We also talk about Hammer and his brother Louis being years ahead of artists in terms of getting clothing lines. Many did not know that the pair had a substantial stake in Troop Outfits. He and his brother were smart and actually opened up 30-40 Troop stores around the country and had the foresight to get them placed in popular locations and key malls. Just as the business was starting to really take off, Hammer and his brother found themselves the victims of what many consider corporate sabotage.
Nasty rumors circulated around the country that Troop was owned by the Ku Klux Klan, when in fact Hammer, LL Cool J and Fat Joe were all owners. Outlets like MTV and urban radio did nothing to dispel those rumors and within a year of these nasty rumors Troop folded. Many speculate that it was rival clothing company like Addidas that was behind the rumors, but of course that was never proven. Many just speculated since they were the dominant urban clothing outfit at that time.
In this interview we spoke to Hammer about him being the first to put out Gospel Hip Hop on vinyl. Today we all praise Kanye West for the hit song ‘Jesus Walks’, but many overlook the fact that Hammer came on the scene using the moniker Holy Ghost Boy. His first song which was actually a demo cut passed around via cassette tape was a cut called ‘The Word’.
On his first LP ‘Feel My Power’ which was released independently in 1987-88, he had a dope hip hop gospel song called ‘Son of a King’. In our interview Hammer talks about his connection to the church and how he has struggled over the years with his own contradictions and spiritual beliefs. Also in this portion of our interview with MC Hammer, he gets deep about the connection between Hip Hop and spirituality.
We also have a lengthy discussion about the connection between Hip Hop and Funk. For those who don’t know, Hammer used to tour with a huge band that included the original horn section from Earth Wind & Fire.
He goes into great detail about the history of west coast Hip Hop and how it emerged from the funk era. Hammer talks about how the Bay Area was the home of the Live Band and how every Black kid in the hood had a funk band. These bands were the equivalent to the early Hip Hop crews back East in terms of being the major platform for cultural expression by folks in the hood. Hammer talks at length about the early dance scene and the significant role it played in the development of west coast Hip Hop.
He talks about some of the early dance crews and dance styles. He also talks about how Michael Jackson used to come up to the Bay Area and get hipped to dance styles he would later incorporate in his shows. The most famous dance that Jackson got from the Bay Area was the robot.
Hammer also talks at length about New York City and why he did a song like ‘Turn this Mutha Out’. He talks about the irresponsibility of the Hip Hop press and how they tried to twist things for the general public. He talks about his friendship with Hip Hop pioneer Mele-Mel’. He also talks about the time he went up to the Latin Quarters by himself and got busy on stage right before Ultramagnetic performed. He noted that DJ Red Alert gave him a messed up introduction.
Listen to pt 1 of this MC Hammer Interview on Breakdown FM
MC Hammer-The Vindication Interview pt2
East Oakland Street Life, Prisons, Police Helicopters, Cointelpro & Eazy E
In pt2 of our one on one with MC Hammer, he let’s us know about his connection to the streets. Folks outside the Bay Area saw the genie pants and the typewriter walk dance and figured Hammer was some sort of softy who could and should be dismissed. Folks in Oakland knew otherwise. Hammer was and is no joke. His old crew, the High Street Bank Boys were more than notorious. Hammer talks at length about the types of steps he took to pull his home boys away from street life and the challenges it presented. His actions by default became a full scale prison to work program. He explained how it was this sort of activity that eventually led to him going bankrupt.
Hammer spoke at length how the police along with some outside enemies tried to undermine his efforts and spread a nasty rumor about him buying OPD a police helicopter. He emphatically refutes the claim and talked about the type of corruptions that had gone on within the police department and how many officers were upset because he was providing opportunities for guys they wanted to see locked up.
We spoke at length about Cointelpro and how many of the other independent movements including Luke in Miami, James Prince in Houston and Eazy E in LA all saw themselves under fire at the same time. He spoke about the early attempts these young black entrepreneurs made to consolidate their resources and create a major distribution channel. It was at that point that the helicopter rumors surfaced and Luke came under fire for obscene material. James Prince and Rap-A-Lot records became the object of a federal investigation. Hammer gets deep with this aspect.. Lastly he talks about his close friendship with Eazy E and how the two had a lot in common because of their street background..
Listen to pt 2 of this MC Hammer Interview on Breakdown FM
The Hustle-The Music Biz-The Hyphy Movement and 2Pac
In our final installment, we talk with MC Hammer about the city he reps and loves Oakland. He talks about the vibe of the city and the type of independent hustle-do for self mentality embraced by its residents Hammer also gives us a lot of insight about the music biz. Anybody trying to make it in the industry needs to hear what Hammer is saying with regards to this..
We also talk about the then current Hyphy Movement. Hammer gives a breakdown on this as well as updating us on his own new projects. We conclude our conversation with Hammer telling us about his friendship with 2Pac and they types of political ambitions the pair had planned out.
Listen to pt 3 of this MC Hammer Interview on Breakdown FM