My job can be so exciting. I get to work with some of the brightest minds and most accomplished luminaries in technology, politics, and business. I am consistently humbled and feel lucky for the opportunities I get.
That said, of all the folks with whom I have interacted in the last couple of years, almost no one has impressed me more than MC Hammer. Yeah, that's right, MC Hammer.
I recently invited Hammer to Google to check the place out and meet some folks. The guy has opinions on everything, but particularly likes to think about how broken the music industry is today from the perspective of the artist. It didn't surprise me that he had he head around that space, considering he has been in the business for years. Yet, I will admit to initially underestimating Hammer as a technologist.
As we spoke it became clear that from WiFi, to video compression, to secure payment systems, Hammer is a geek, and a well-informed one at that. As we walked across the Google campus, Hammer told me he had been there years ago when it belonged to SGI. Back then, he visited to better understand how his videos could be viewed by fans on the Internet. Rather than rely on just reading about streaming video, he wanted to go to the source and get the scoop firsthand.
Anyway, the visit was a blast. While moving through our building and cafeteria, Hammer attracted more handshakes and autograph requests than most world leaders who visit. We had lunch with 15 or so Googlers and Hammer held court. They were rapt with attention for over an hour.
Bottom line, five things worth noting about Hammer:
1) Hammer is a man of action - During lunch, we were talking about Blogger. Hammer told us he wanted to learn more about this and understand how to set one up. I told him I could put together a meeting next week, blah blah. Without hesitation he said "Why not now?" I was caught off guard. Have I become the slow bureaucrat that pushes off meetings until next week? Yikes. I cancelled my next appointment and took Hammer immediately to Blogger HQ where Case and Goldman put together a sweet blog for him and linked it to his T-Mobile Sidekick. (blog url coming soon)
2) The world loves Hammer - As we walked around the Googleplex, it was amazing how many international Googlers recognized him and came up to say hi and give him props. Asians, Africans, Europeans. They were all excited to see Hammer.
3) Young people dig Hammer - I was suprised to see how young a lot of his fans were. I mean, many of the adoring masses were 22 or 23 years old. That means those kids were 7 or 8 years old when "U Can't Touch This" was hot. I asked a few of them what the deal was. Did they remember Hammer from back in the day? A few claimed to. However, most told me that Hammer was all about the 80s, and the 80s are back.
4) Hammer is a master marketer - He has a new album in hand. (We heard some tracks. It's hot. Very well produced.) Following his trademark style, the hooks to his tunes are very catchy and easily repeatable even by the most soulfully challenged. On top of that, Hammer has a few new dances up his sleeves. Hopefully, he will unleash them soon so we can all clue in before holiday party season is upon us. Either way, I predict good things for this album.
5) Hammer is a nice guy - No matter how many times people interrupted for a photo or to ask him to sign something, Hammer was beyond cordial and went out of his way to make them happy. It was amazing how polite and cheery he was with everyone. So cool.
The man is too legit.
(stop sign photo credit Afroswede)
UPDATE: Hammer is easily the coolest blogger I know. Check his stuff out here: http://mchammer.blogspot.com/. His voice is so sincere, he posts regularly, he interacts with his commenters, he even leaves audioposts. So awesome. Way to be, Hammer!