There's probably no human being I've ever held in higher regard than MC Hammer.
Truly, over the span of my 29 years I'm hard-pressed to think of anyone I idolized quite like Hammer, circa summer 1990. This fact was confirmed by my mother earlier this year, upon discovery of an old VHS tape of me "wearing Vanilla Ice pants" [sic] and trying desperately to mimic Hammer's dance moves.
So, yeah, it would have been impossible for me to miss the chance to talk to the dancer/rapper known pre-fame as Stanley Burrell before his show at Celebrity Theatre on Friday -- even though I was worried I had nothing to talk to him about. I struggled mightily to think of sensible questions to ask a man known exclusively as the author of a much-parodied 20-year-old pop-rap anthem, and kept coming up empty.
Turns out I shouldn't have worried at all. Post-millennial Hammer wants to talk about shit like Twitter, which we both spend a ton of time dealing with. Tragically, Hammer is a "social media guru" now. Awful, I know.
I mean, seriously, can you imagine anything more depressing than having your childhood hero turn in to someone who namechecks Huffington Post as if it were the New York Times? As fondly as I recall my parachute pants, Hammer reminisces about the good ol' days of YouTube, when it was "just two computers."
Hammer -- once, undoubtedly, the coolest human being on planet Earth -- is a social media guru.
Hammer -- a man I fantasized about opening for as a corny kiddy protégé, envisioning my 9-year-old self as sort of a white-bread Lil Bow Wow -- is a fucking social media guru.
Look, I'm no Luddite. I was using a Commodore 64 back in my Hammer-loving days. I've had a blog for, oh, nine years now? I've been Twittering since no one I worked with knew what Twittering was. But I can't honestly say there's anything remotely "cool" about social media. Certainly we can all agree there's nothing cool about mastering said medium to the point of being a "guru." And doing that after having a type of supremely awesome pants named after you? Fuck. Is this what computers have done to us?
So here are some things Hammer said to me. I can't formulate it into a proper Q&A because I'm way too depressed . . .
On Twitter: "I knew right away that this was the killer app in the social media because of the immediacy of the medium."(Check out Hammer's very first tweet in this story in Huffington Post.)
On the way social media allows him to reach fans: "Even if I was doing interviews, I was doing them about one specific topic because I was doing them with a music writer, so the breadth and depth of the conversation was limited to 'So where were you when you thought about that song,' and 'blah, blah, blah' about that song. And not to belittle him, but it's just not the depth of the conversation, but with social media, I was able to introduce all of MC Hammer."
Brief summary of MC Hammer's epistemology: "Perception is more valuable than reality."
On the future of media: "Before social media arrived, dissemination of media was limited to traditional channels, so the ability for people to know anything about whatever you were doing was limited to a blurb in a magazine or a quick blurb on a news channel. Which, again, they didn't do real profiles on artists beyond, 'hey, heard you had a new song.'"
On being the coolest person on Earth for one brief, shining moment: "The people around you make you cool. You just need to stay humble."
On the Hammer pants revival: "They're back, 20 years later. Hammer pants right now are the hottest pants. I was in Australia and people were wearing them there. Some of the best designers in the world right now, like Christian Dior Homme, are making Hammer pants. I just talked to a girl who said she was on her way to American Apparel to pick up a pair."
At this point Hammer mentioned his backup dancers, which are, on average, 22 years old. They have to be that young to keep up, he says.
That means that at age 29, I am waaaay too old to be a MC Hammer backup dancer. That's sad, I guess, as it means I'll never get to live my dream.
Even sadder? The fact that I once dreamed of dancing for a social media guru. Ugh.
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