Words Brian “B.Dot” Miller
Time flies, but 19 years ago today, MC Hammer slowed things down in the game. In less than a year, his sophomore album Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em, became the first hip-hop album to clock 10 million units. That’s right, diamond—a feat that has yet to be topped in any musical genre, since. In between running his new site, Dancejam and filming his upcoming A&E reality show, Hammertime, Stanley found time to talk to RapRadar about getting his props, MC Serch, and why diamond is a rapper’s best friend.
You were the first rapper to go diamond, how does it feel looking back on it almost 20 years later?
Since in the cycle, the normal life cycle of an album, there hasn’t been any others that made it that more special. It’s a single album. It’s not a double album. So I don’t know if any others in a normal life cycle have done that.
No, no, no. We’re talking about rap. What other ones in rap you know about?
Well, there’s Outkast, but it’s a double—
Actually, that’s actually 5 million sales.
Uh, Eminem’s The Marshall Mathers LP—
Nah, it’s not diamond.
It’s not diamond?
Nah, I think he’s right around 8 and half, something like that. Unless you have an updated number that we just seen. Last I knew, that one was at like eight. That’s the game, everyone put out they sold 100 million. That’s the new thing. But it’s cool, it’s all good. Hustle how you got to hustle.
Well, to your credit you did it in less than year.
That’s why I was being somewhat facetious with you. In the life cycle of an album, normally you say max 18 months, right? So for that to happen and it happen in a normal life cycle, I’m saying 12 months. [Chuckles]. So in its proper perspective, it was unbelievable. And 20 years later, it’s still.
Did you ever think it would get that big?
Nobody can predict that big. My goal was to be the biggest selling one that came out. Prior to that it was the Beastie Boys and I literally made a bet that I would beat [their] album. That’s documented. That’s the bet I made with Capitol Records. If I beat that number, I want a free Ferrari and they had to pay up. So me and the CEO of Capitol at the time made the bet and I won just ’cause I felt the combination of melody meets dance, meets humanity was all encompassed in the record. I thought it had a real chance of doing and surpassing [them]. At the time, three million and some change was the record for a rap artist. So I thought it had a good shot at it. I knew the momentum I had coming out of the other one. I was already a million and half on my first one and I felt like I had just increased the vibration.
In terms of flamboyance, a lot of rappers have followed your blueprint. Do you feel as if your not credited enough for what you brought to the table?
Well, there was a huge period of time it was absolutely true. But now there are artists who very much, give it up because they don’t consider themselves competitive with Hammer. So the thing that was odd that nobody never wanted to put in perspective, was at that time, most would have anything to say where all my competitors.
Let me just give you an example: A guy like, 3rd Bass. Never heard of him at the time, right? And 20 years later his album ain’t even gold! [Laughs].
You mean, MC Serch?
My first album is a million and half, right? I’m on my second album and I’m probably at about 4, 5 million. Look, nobody put that in the perspective. He was trying to come at the top man to get some publicity to help sell his record and 20 years later he still—his story sound good. He can get on there and even call himself a legend of hip-hop. I mean, this is all ridiculous stuff. But, it’s all relative to geographical location, right? The hometown hero, right? But in his hometown, he can’t be a hometown hero ’cause there are some real cats who sold real units up out of New York. But, access equates to sometimes viability. In that perspective, this man is an authority on rap. But his authority never got him more than 300,000 sales. And I’m saying that’s the case for almost all “my competitors” relatively speaking, it was always the little guys. It’s like you didn’t hear Prince talk about Hammer. He moving units!
You and Michael Jackson were competitors at one time too, right?
Yeah, we had fun. Even when I made the video and said I want the glove. I talked to Michael before the video came out. He called me. And I said, “Hey Michael, I respect you so much, if you say so, I’m about to edit that part out the video.” And he told me not to. So what I’m saying is we complimented each other back and forth for about 10 or 15 minutes on our dancing skills. I went #1 in January, right? And in June I was still number one. Let me put it in perspective for you. I just kept doing what I was doing. I went to another 5 million. I don’t got time to sit back and worry about what the lil’ cats is doing.