"That's not saying I won't increase the staff in L.A. and New York, but my headquarters will be known to the world for being in Oakland. I don't know if geographical location is as meaningful today maybe as it was 10, 20 years ago." Burrell points to other R&B producer/artist figures who've built successful dynasties in out-of-the-way climes--Flyte Tyme in Minneapolis, L.A. Reid & Babyface in Atlanta.
As for the claims of disgruntled ex-employees--and the cancelled lawsuit by those ballplayer buddies--Hammer insists his rapid accumulation of millions has not affected him, but rather those around him.
For the Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday March 24, 1991 Home Edition Calendar Page 95 Calendar Desk 1 inches; 17 words Type of Material: Correction
Photographer's name--Lori Stoll's name was misspelled in the credit for her cover photograph of M.C. Hammer last Sunday.
Doesn't it make him uncomfortable, though, being estranged from old friends and associates, all the way down to a feud with two members of his old cohorts, the Oakland A's?
"Actually, we're still friends," he says. "Just wanted to settle our differences on what one wants and what one wants to give and that's all. No, it doesn't make me uncomfortable, not at all." He chuckles. "Everybody wants the money."
'You didn't ask me about Sinead O'Connor."
The conversation seemed to be winding down, but now it seems Hammer is cocked and ready. His gaze is strong and severe, no longer tempted by the lure of MTV.
He's leaning over his desk toward the visitor who will relay his message, his black leather chair creaking as he strains forward, passionate to deliver his response to the maverick Irish singer who made the mistake of picking on the wrong multiplatinum seller.
It seems that on "Entertainment Tonight" O'Connor named Hammer as one of the artists whose massive sales and industry awards represent everything that's corrupt about the music business, thus spurring her boycott of the Grammy Awards. And then--far worse to Hammer's sensibilities--she topped off the insult with a dash of anti-patriotism.
"She said, 'I don't care if this hurts my career, I hate the music business, it makes me sick, I can't even sleep at night.' That was her business if she wanted to manipulate the press with that and then the Andrew Dice Clay thing and the national anthem thing and the Grammys, but when she put me in it, she picked the wrong guy. She probably thought I was just some dumb rapper she could outwit or something, but I will \o7 expooooose\f7 her."
Hammer is starting to sound like Rev. Pressure, the preacher character in his long-form video, railing against the devil.
"Then she went on to say that too many people at the AMAs (American Music Awards) were pro-war. Again, that's an innuendo (directed at) me, because I dedicated my second award to the troops. I want to make this very clear: We are not pro-war. We are pro-\o7 troops\f7 . I think when they cut her hair, she lost part of her mind. . . ."
Hammer visited his old Navy base the previous day, which no doubt is now helping turn his rap cockiness into righteous indignation.
"War is serious business. It is no game. We all are anti-war. But she's doing it again for that publicity bull, using the press and the public to market herself. How would you like to have your husband or daddy over there in the desert, you don't know if he's coming back tomorrow, and you turn on the TV and hear this person not even from this country talking against 'em?
"Hey, get out of here. Please go home. Please. I'll buy the ticket. One way is what? Fifteen hundred dollars? I got the money waiting--any time you want to leave, be my guest."
Hammer seems pleased to have had a worthy opponent to rail against--not like Vanilla Ice, a harmless, overconfident kid. He instinctively recognizes that, however repugnant her views might seem, O'Connor is a more provocative figure, worthier of his attention. And now that the world wants to know what Stanley Kirk Burrell thinks of her, or which cola he drinks, for that matter, in the service of patriotism or his own pride, any time is Hammer time.