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'Hammertime' fails to nail a new angle

June 14, 2009 |  3:00 am
"I'm ashamed to say this, but I wasn't thinking very highly of you," the man tells MC Hammer. "But when I heard you speak, you know what you're talking about." The location is a Stanford panel on the music industry in the digital age, on which Hammer had just been a speaker. Hammer glad-hands the guy, tells him he's happy not just to have respect but to have earned it.

It's a small scene in the second episode of "Hammertime," which premieres tonight on A&E (10 p.m.) with a pair of shows, but it is far and away the most revealing moment on this anodyne series. Here is a man who's sold millions of records, survived serious financial tumult and stands as one of hip-hop's most indelible figures (if no longer a popular one) being reduced to caricature by someone whose mask of open-mindedness conceals, just barely, persistent casual racism.

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