The worst thing about “Better Run Run,” the MC Hammer-Jay-Z dis song, is that it fails to make much of a case against Jay-Z, at all. To listen to it, you’d have no idea why MC Hammer all of a sudden decided to get back into rap music, a good 15+ years after the traumatizing “Pumps in a Bump” video, just to take shots at Jay-Z, the greatest rapper of all time for people who think that “remarkable consistency” and having made the most money in sideline marketing ventures are factors that should be taken into consideration. (Say what you will about pr0n enthusiasts, you can trust that their opinion is based on one thing, and one thing only.) The only way MC Hammer would have been able to convey that the impetus to drop “Better Run Run” didn’t have anything to do with jealousy and opportunism is if he said so in a disclaimer, like the one before the “Thriller” video, in which Wacko Jacko explained that he didn’t have any belief in the occult. As if.
There’s very few lyrics in “Better Run Run,” and most of them are along the lines of, “Dude, fuck you!” And so the song would come off as a total non sequitir to anyone unfamiliar with the line MC Hammer took umbrage with in (I think) one of those Kanye West throwaway of the week songs, in which Jay-Z talked about how he could lose $30 million, like that time he bought Beyonce an entire island for her 29th (but really her 36th) B-day, and not end up having to take the late, great Gary Coleman’s old job, doing cash for gold commercials on late night basic cable, like MC Hammer. I’m not actually familiar with the song myself. (Fuck those Kanye West throwaway of the week songs.) I only know about it from having read up on it, when I heard that MC Hammer was planning to dis Jay-Z.
Which brings me to another problem I have with “Better Run Run.” Namely, who in the fuck announces that they’re planning on dropping a dis record a good month before the song actually hits the Internets? MC Hammer seemed all pissed at Jay-Z, a few weeks ago and then I didn’t hear shit about it until just now. I can understand that MC Hammer is older than a motherfucker, and just doesn’t have the same energy he used to, and hence it might take him a month to write an entire song that only consists of about 16 bars and doesn’t really say anything. His brain might be growing a thin candy shell. But why even bother announcing the dis record ahead of time, thus ruining the element of surprise? One of his kids should have pulled him aside and explained to him how this shit works.
They may have also warned him against a few lines that stuck out in my mind, but for all the wrong reasons. It wasn’t that Hammer had taken a particularly effective shot at Jay-Z, it’s that they made me wonder how much of a joke this all really is to him. Like, what would happen if MC Hammer were to run into Jay-Z, like if Hammer got a job stocking the Landshire Sandwich machine at the airport. That line where he says (and I’m paraphrasing), “I’ll take the world, and give me your girl,” came off a bit Fleece “Booty Warrior” Johnson to me. No Morehouse. His tone of voice sounded kinda rapey. Then there’s the part where he’s in a gym, swinging at a punching bag, and talking about how he’s gonna bust Jay-Z in his mouth. I’m pretty sure he didn’t mean that metaphorically. In fact, it’s not clear to me that MC Hammer is capable of forming a metaphor.
If I were Jay-Z, I’d avoid crossing paths with MC Hammer, at least until arthritis, from his running man days, finally forces him into a wheelchair – at which point I’d run up behind him and push him into somethng on GP. Hammer may have come off as a sad old man who could easily be taken out at the knees (like any man of a certain age, regardless of how strong he is), in those scenes where he’s boxing, but, lest we forget, Jay-Z is no spring chicken himself. They’re probably not so far apart in age that they couldn’t have gone to high school together. Once you get to be in your 40s, differences of a few years don’t matter as much. That’s why there’s only like three age groups in the senior Olympics, and the last one starts out at 90. MC Hammer and Jay-Z could almost certainly play in the same basketball league (and get schooled by some old white guy, Elliott Wilson-style) at the JCCA. I know Jay-Z was starting to get into Tae Bo around the time he was beefing with Nas (I think there was a documentary about it on MTV), but I’m not sure how effective those moves would be in actually kicking someone’s ass. And Jay-Z doesn’t seem to have the killer instinct necessary to put a shoe on somebody. He’s too laid back. MC Hammer, on the other hand, is like Sylvester Stallone in Rocky V, when he brother in law spent all of his money on that robot, and he had to move back into the ghetto. He could probably win a fight with an actual boxer, on the basis of sheer anger + alzheimer’s, which may or may not have the effect of making you impervious to pain, like homeboy in The Girl Who Played with Fire. I’m thinking that if it was severe enough, you’d have a hard time remembering you’re in pain. But of course that’s just speculation.