Watch a clip from ‘Hammertime’ »
When it comes to kinetic performances, rapper MC Hammer was hip-hop’s high-octane energizer. From his untouchable posse of dancers to his elaborate costumes (who can forget the genie pants?), MC Hammer dominated early 90’s dance rap with classics such as “U Can’t Touch This.” Throughout the years the ordained minister experienced a phenomenal musical ascension and what some deemed as an invetible decline, but he has continued to stay relevant in the game. ESSENCE.com caught up with the hubby and father of six to disuss his family’s new reality show, overcoming financial woes, and why his success should hot have been equated with materialism.
ESSENCE.COM: Not since the debut of “Surreal Life,” have we been offered a glimpse into your life.
MC HAMMER: Any celebrity or public figure is living under the microscope, especially through the new media where anyone can whip out their camera phone, record and you’re on YouTube around the world. So I wasn’t taken aback at all and was even offered my own sitcom. What I discovered about my family is that I have a bunch of hams and they have been ready since I shared the idea with them a few years ago that someone had made me an offer that fell through. I’m thoroughly pleased with the show we have.
ESSENCE.COM: That’s good to hear because there was a time that you not only lost your wealth but your dear friend Tupac. Was it difficult coping with those losses?
MC HAMMER: Not at all from a financial perspective. People have to understand that I started working when I was 8 years old for the Oakland Raiders until I was 18. So way before I became MC Hammer, I was generating revenue and had four houses and two Porsches. Therefore, making money has never been a challenge for me because I’m a hard worker and creator. I don’t operate from a losing mentality. When it comes to keeping Tupac’s legacy alive I do that much like my spiritual commitment which is not for public but personal consumption daily.
ESSENCE.COM: Back in the day it was reported that you felt as though you were all alone with your financial strife after those you helped turned their backs on you. Has that experience caused you to be more cautious with those in your inner circle?
MC HAMMER: That was a misperception by whoever made the reference because I never looked to my dancers or the men and women I grew up with in my neighborhood to carry me because I was investing in them as a people because I had the resources. When I went through my trials and tribulations I had no expectations from those people because my troubles were beyond their means. It was like I need to borrow a dollar to help my situation (laughs). The people I was referring to were all professionals, not friends and family. The ones I spent a lot of money with buying ads on their radio stations, magazines.
ESSENCE.COM: Despite being accused of living in opulence, as a rapper you set plenty of historical firsts. How has the game changed?
MC HAMMER: I don’t expect a person living outside of the king’s palace to understand how he lives. AllI I can say is if I was living in opulence, then came along one of America’s favorite shows, “Cribs.” They said a rapper shouldn’t have an endorsement deal, but nowadays what rapper doesn’t? They also said a rapper shouldn’t be making dance music, but today they call it ballin’ when there’s a hot new party record. So again, I always understood that the criticism came from a position that many of my critics wish they could have done it first. So I have never taken any criticisms to heart because I already have everything I need in my family.
“Hammertime” debuts on A&E, Sunday, June 14 at 8 P. M. EST.