Jay-Z is a man who picks his battles carefully. So when he went after MC Hammer, of all people, last month in his verses on Kanye West's "So Appalled" — "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" — it seemed out of character.
Hammer did not take it lying down. In the "Better Run Run" video released early Monday morning, the MC accuses Jigga of being in league (and in the studio) with Satan — and then Hammer defeats the devil and forces Jay to be baptized.
In an interview with BBC's DJ Semtex this week, Jay said he didn't mean the verses as a personal attack.
"I didn't know that [Hammer's financial status] wasn't on the table for discussion!" he said (he laughs or sounds like he's smiling throughout nearly the entire interview). "I didn't know I was the first person ever to say that — I'm not, am I?"
He continued a bit more seriously, "When I say things, I think people believe me so much that they take it a different way — it's, like, not rap anymore at that point."
He added: "I say some great things about him in the book I have coming out [Decoded] — that's wasn't a cheap plug," he laughed. "He's gonna be embarrassed, I said some really great things about him and people's perception of him.
"But it is what it is, he took it that wrong way, and I didn't know I said anything wrong!"