Monday, November 1, 2010

Did Hammer Diss Jay-Z?

Did Hammer diss Jay-Z?

That’s what my friend said when he sent me this clip for a new song that Mc Hammer did about Jay. Take a look for yourself and let me know what you think.

When I first saw this clip it immediately made me think about the experience I had at a Jay Z concert last year. There was bad energy in the air. I stood there, still, as I watched thousands of people chant “HOVA” to this man standing on stage throwing up a diamond sign with his hands.

It felt entirely too much like worship.

The fact that Jay-Z calls himself Hova or Jay-Hova has always been problematic to me. Since I associate “Jehovah” with the God I believe in, I have wondered for years what this dude is really all about. Does he really believe he is a god? What does it mean to him when folks call him the god MC?

For years I have heard this same criticism of Jay Z from Christians and non-Christians, haters and some of his biggest fans. This isn’t a new idea and for that reason much of what Hammer says in the song isn’t all that mind blowing. I understand that this song is in part a response to Jay taking a jab at Hammer’s past money woes in Kanye West’s song So Appalled; so it made sense to respond in kind.

“Hammer went broke, so you know I’m more focused/I lost 30 mil’, so I spent another 30/’Cause unlike Hammer, 30 million can’t hurt me,” – Jay-Z

When I first heard that line I thought to myself “ohhh snap… that wasn’t right. Why he gotta mess with Hammer like that?” But never did I imagine that Hammer would fire back. I know that Hammer is a Christian and a servant of God so I was surprised when I got the message today telling me to listen to a Hammer “diss” record.

But then I watched it… and it was fascinating.

The video is a scorcher; not in the typical lyrical sense of battle raps, but from a spiritual perspective. He calls out Jay-Z for his habitual line stepping in evoking his god complex. He says that Jay sold his soul to the devil to get the success he’s gotten and Hammer is appalled that this man who seems to have aligned himself with darkness would try to attack a child of the light.

All of this is cool and what not but the imagery of the video is what really interests me. There’s a flabby Jay Z doppelganger running in the woods and he is being chased by a demon. We see this pursuit during the entire video until the end when the Jay-Z figure runs by a lake. Hammer is standing there waiting for him. Of course one would expect this type of confrontation. But something unexpected happens. Hammer let’s Jay-Z run by and he stops the demon dead in his tracks. After vanquishing the spiritual foe he begins whispering into Jiggaman’s ear. Jay nods and seems broken down. Then Hammer BAPTIZES HIM.


When I reached the end of the video I no longer thought this was a “diss record”. Hammer is not addressing Jay Z as much as he is addressing the perceived devil within him.

I was raised with the saying “hate the sin, not the sinner”. That seems to be the message that Hammer wants to get out here. Yes, Jay has done some things that Hammer and other Christians don’t like. But that doesn’t mean that he is not beyond the possibility of redemption. Hammer confronts without condemnation. He calls Jay out without demonizing him completely. And in the end he extends a very Christian olive branch of redemption through the baptism imagery.

At least this is how I see it, but I wonder if others will see it that way. Calling this a “diss record” misses the point. More accurately it is a call to arms to the “Hova” within Jay-Z.

Even if this record fades into the obscurity of our short sighted memories I am proud of Hammer for this one. He used his art to let his spirit speak. In this day and age where popular culture tends to vilify all things remotely Christian it was a courageous move.

Well done sir. Well done. 

Here is So Appalled for your listening pleasure. Jay-Z starts at 1:50. 


  1. I'm in agreement with the visuals in terms of the spiritual message of the video, and I think the baptism at the end was a very powerful image. But saying that he's going to "knock him out" and "you stole my swag" stuff was just ridiculous, and in essence to me, makes it a bit more than just talking to the devilish side of Jay. I think if he had stuck to just that topic as he did in the first verse I would have been more on Hammer's side.
    I'm also at a point where I'm cynical about certain things so I have issues with a few things with Hammer also. For one thing, referring to Hammer losing money is something all kinds of rappers have done, so to single out Jay-Z seemed a bit too convenient, especially with the product placement of his clothing line and stuff in that long intro. Secondly Rick Ross has a song out right now called "MC Hammer" and one of the lines is "I'm goin broke" during the chorus. Just recently on the BET Hip Hop Awards Rick Ross did that song, then it segued into Hammer coming on stage to do a little number. So I have my own questions of if Hammer is an opportunist himself.
    Today Hammer even called Jay Hell Boy, so to me there's a level where this isn't a brother calling another brother out for redemption.

    I've always had an issue with Jay because I have never understood his intentions with his art. Was it a path toward money and power, or something that he loves and wants to use as a guide for others? He started calling himself Jay-Hova around 2000 and I was sure that would cause an issue, especially within the Hip Hop community; but, it was largely silent until that Jesus line in Empire State of Mind because now his star power is so big that every single eye is on him. We'll see how this all pans out. I doubt Jay will respond in a song, he'll do some interviews about it, joke, and that's it.

  2. I agree with you that there are definitely other reasons. If you're gonna hit someone why not attack the biggest dude on the block. So I feel you on questioning his intentions a bit. The reason why I can see Jay Z being someone that he wouldn't tolerate this from is precisely because Jay is the only dude who has come out there as calling himself God... Literally...

    For all of the bravado in hip hop I think the Hova thing is just too much not to respond to especially as a Christian. That's why I'm giving Hammer the benefit of the doubt.

    Also the little jabs that Hammer threw at Jay were pretty weak. I think that even Hammer could have done better than that if he was really trying. That's why I didn't really take them to be a serious attempt at battling Jay.

  3. Hammer's got nearly 2 million Twitter followers. Pretty amazing for a guy who hasn't had a hit in almost 20 years.

  4. @Jumane Yeah man. He has interesting things to say and he never gave up on making moves or on himself. Gotta admire that. He seems happy.


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