(AllHipHop Features) Kanye West is the most polarizing figure in Hip-Hop and probably second only to his "dragon energy" comrade Donald Trump in the general market. Jesus Is King is the album of the hour, but way before that, MC Hammer basically started the notion of Christianity in rap music.
The Oakland rapper continued to push his brand of positive rap music well after YO! MTV Raps and Rap City propelled it to the masses. In an interview conducted prior to the release of Jesus Is King, AllHipHop's Chuck "Jigsaw" Creekmur talked to the entertainment great about his contemporary as he promoted a pre-Thanksgiving show that boasts Bay legends Digital Underground and Tony! Toni! Toné!(Click here for tickets)
Hammer's thoughts on Kanye show candor, restraint and empathy, even as Kanye keeps folks pondering his support of Trump, comments on slavery and bold proclamation that he's "unquestionably, undoubtedly the greatest human artist of all time."
AllHipHop: People have been talking about you a lot lately. One thing that people have brought your name up about is this whole gospel rap situation. Particularly honestly around Kanye, but not limited to it's a whole genre now.
MC Hammer: Not one of the first, Chuck - the first. That's the lens I'm talking about. In things concerning me we don't have to pretend now, we have 30 years in hindsight. I pioneered (Christian Hip-Hop) in 1987 on a record called "Son of the King." It's on the Let's Get It Started album. Now, if it's somebody you have this before that you can enlighten me. And then I went from that to "Pray" (1990) after that, you can talk about all the other people who came. There has been a lot of them. They've done a good job with it. What is the actual question? What do I think of like somebody doing it today?
AllHipHop: Yeah, what are your thoughts on it today Are your thoughts on it today?
MC Hammer: I mean, you could ask me what you want to ask me. You can be specific.
AllHipHop: A lot of people have an issue with Kanye West to be quite honest and frank, specifically him, for a number of reasons. And some of it, you know, is based on his recent past and some of the comments and affiliations (like Donald Trump). I'm not trying to lead you there with it, but just saying that is part of the reason why there is an issue. Some of it is his depiction of himself as Jesus. I'm not trying to lead you to any particular answer, but he is the most prominent person right now doing it.
MC Hammer: Right. So ask your question. I hear what you're saying, but you have to ask me a question, if you want to ask me something about Kanye and say his name and say what the question is and then I try to get you to answer based on your question. I understand the elements and understand the overall question about Kanye and so forth and so on and what he's doing?
AllHipHop: Just to speak to the conflicting ideas around his brand of Hip-Hop. There's also imagery of him positioning himself in a light almost like a cult leader. I'm not saying that he's doing that, but I'm saying that visually, sometimes that's what it looks like. And as a Christian myself, I have some concerns. We all know historically Christianity has been misused for Black people and white people and others to guide them a certain way. So, I mean, that's my statement. My question to you is, you know, do you have any feelings around the use of Christianity this way?
MC Hammer: Well, well are you saying around Christianity or Kanye using Christianity? Is that your question?
AllHipHop: Yeah at this point, Kanye.
MC Hammer: My apprehension about being judgmental of anybody who is proclaiming what is the title of the album? Again?
AllHipHop: The title of this album is Jesus Is King.
MC Hammer: I don't have any issues with that... So any man that, that take the position did have some courage from their convictions to say, Jesus is King. You and I both as Christians, we don't take no issue with that.
AllHipHop: There's a legacy here that goes back. Obviously we're in the present day and a whole lot may have changed. Who knows? I'm just saying that it's almost contradictory in some ways than previous messaging.
MC Hammer: That's for you to say. That's not for me to say. This would be my next statement concerning Kanye. As a man and a human being, I happen to love him. I've seen the complete journey, as we all have in the past couple of years. So I'm going continue to love Kanye through the journey and if the journey takes him to Jesus is King, then I'll be happy for him and his family.
All the other things, that's for everybody else to deal with because it's right in front of you. And beyond Kanye, there is a bigger picture, a bigger discussion to have about the entire positioning of Hip-Hop and Hip-Hop culture based on what we see right in front of us. And then when we choose to say we judging that or judging that person or judging this specific action versus when we want to say no today, that's okay with me. I'll also like today, this is not okay with me, but yesterday it was. It's beyond Kanye. Don't, don't just try to put all of it on Kanye. Everybody is complicit essentially from the side of those who make profits off of writing about it, selling the ads and everything else. Everybody's complicit So where we are is beyond Kanye and nobody's going to want to take responsibility because its blood on everybody's hands.
The culture, the business side, let's take the fans out of it, the journalistic side has been anointing different individuals even right now, right? And these individuals they know everything. I take no issues with the artists because the artists have not hid they hand, they have not done nothing but spoke their truth. My name is artists, "X, Y, Z." I want you to take a hundred of these pills. I want you to do this. This is what I'm about. And the artists have not lied to you. They told you who they are, they put it right in front of you and then the culture is to anoint or not anoint them. We are where we are.
AllHipHop: From my point of view it ain't nothing I can do about it. It's out of my hands. Trust me. I've been trying to nudge the culture a certain way, not forcing any specific way, but it goes where it wants to go. We just have to go with it and pick and choose our spots.
MC Hammer: I know you, Chuck. I was out of generalizing because I don't want to over-focus on just Kanye and his journey. It's very important from my perspective that Kanye be allowed to continue upon his journey and let's see where his journey takes him and us. Right?
But the bigger picture is we got a whole lot beyond Kanye, I tell you that.