Redman On Getting Stepped To By MC Hammer In The 90s: “Hammer Don’t Play!!” (Video)
At the height of his career, MC Hammer was far from considered a gangsta rapper. With his parachute pants, highly-choreographed dancing and big pop records, Hammer was often the butt of jokes from his peers and considered a “sell out.” His image was so cemented that when he showcased a tough guy persona on his 1994 album The Funky Headhunter, he was perceived to be fakin’ the funk. The reality is, the Hammer that took the world by storm with his congenial smile was a showman, but the man born Stanley Burrell was as tough as they come. Redman recently spoke with DJ Vlad about how he learned this the hard way.
In 1992, Hammer was by far the most commercially successful artist in Hip-Hop. His 1990 album Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em would eventually sell 22 million copies, with 1991’s Too Legit To Quit adding an additional 5 million. His success and his more mainstream-friendly style made him an easy target for more purist MCs, and Redman joined a chorus of critics on his “Funky Uncles” skit from his debut Whut? Thee Album. During the one minute interlude, Redman can be heard saying of Hammer “He ain’t shit…Hammer ain’t doin’ nothin’ for us. He ain’t shit. You ain’t shit. His mama ain’t shit. His daddy ain’t shit. Ain’t nobody shit.”
Red became animated in recalling Hammer’s response to the record, telling Vlad “That goddamn MC Hammer? VERY serious about beef. Y’all mu’fuckas laugh and y’all joke about Hammer? No, no, no, no!! That nigga was deep with niggas! Anybody who talked shit, come to the Bay Area, they was in for it. ‘Cause we seen it. I seen it. And, he was VERY serious about beef. ‘Oh. You gon’ talk about my dancin’ pants? I’ll see you.’ And, he would whup a nigga out.”
In a 1994 interview with Rap City, Hammer indicated he had heard “Funky Uncles” and was none too pleased. “Redman, when he came out with his album, he has a little skit on the front of it that says somethin’ about Hammer. So, to me he’s just another little punk, so I checked him on the album and put him in his place.” A year later, Red came face to face with Hammer, 3 years after releasing his skit, and Hammer had not forgotten, nor forgiven his words.”That nigga came up to me on [Yo! MTV Raps] on the last episode they had,” said Red. “That nigga approached me. He was like ‘Red, I’mma tell you somethin’. You young, but I don’t allow nobody talkin’ about my mama. You understand me?!'” “I said, ‘Yes, sir,'” replied Redman. For context, he adds that prior to that encounter Hit Squad had been in the Bay area and nearly got jumped. “We was already in Oakland with EPMD, and we damn near had to bounce up outta there for that, ’cause they had niggas back here, back here, back here [pointing in different directions]. We had to get the fuck up outta here. They wasn’t playin’. We was almost boxed in.” Going back to the confrontation at Yo! MTV Raps, Red says “He shook my hand. He was like ‘You a youngin’. I like what you do. But, you just know I don’t play nobody talkin’ bout my mama.'”
In recounting the events to Combat Jack in 2012, Redman was even more descriptive, saying “Niggas think Hammer’s a sucka. Hammer don’t fuckin’ play. Hammer don’t play. He dances and he’s very athletic, and he’ll whup a nigga’s ass.” Red also noted how conciliatory he was at the Yo! MTV Raps encounter, saying his response when Hammer expressed his dissatisfaction about Red’s words about his mother was “Yo, Hammer, man. You was big. Look, man, I ain’t got no beef with you, my dude. You a OG. I’m a young cat.”