Rap Battle of Words Dominates Show : Pop music: M. C. Hammer and Run-DMC exchange potshots backstage at the Soul Train Music Awards. Oh, and the awards? Three each for Hammer and Mariah Carey.


On a night when M. C. Hammer and Mariah Carey each won three honors at the nationally televised Soul Train Music Awards at the Shrine Auditorium, Hammer and fellow rapper Vanilla Ice were again involved in verbal skirmishes--but this time it wasn’t with each other.

The rival rappers, whose latest albums have sold more than 8 million copies each in the United States alone, have taken potshots at one another on occasion, including Hammer’s backstage charges at January’s American Music Awards telecast in Los Angeles that Ice was just a Hammer imitator.

At the Soul Train awards Tuesday, Hammer himself was attacked backstage by Run-DMC, the New York trio that played a key role in the ‘80s in bringing rap to the pop-rock mainstream.

“He can’t rap,” said Run-DMC’s Joseph Simmons. “If you’re going to say he’s legit, (does that mean) Vanilla Ice is legit, too? . . . Just because Hammer’s selling records, that don’t mean everything.

“I think in my neighborhood, he’d be booed. . . . We just hope some of the fans will say, ‘We’ve been cheated,’ and go back and hear some of the real rappers.”


The issue of Hammer and Ice has been heated within hard-core rap circles in recent months because many rappers fear their phenomenal sales may lead record companies to put all their resources behind similar pop-rap acts, leaving less opportunity for street-oriented rappers.

When informed backstage of Simmons’ comments, Hammer went on the offensive, suggesting the remarks were just sour grapes from a passe group.

Speaking to a crowd of electronic and print reporters, he said, “I’m sure they had to force you to turn on the cameras when they came back (because no one cares about them anymore). . . . Talking to them is like turning back the hands of time.”

Vanilla Ice, meanwhile, was also attacked by Run-DMC as “fake” and was booed by the Shrine audience even though he didn’t attend the show. The booing occured when Ice’s name was mentioned as a nominee in the best new artist category.

Carey’s three awards--for new artist, female R&B;/urban contemporary album and single--come after her two awards for new artist and female pop vocal at last month’s Grammy Awards ceremony in New York.

“I want to thank the black community for accepting me,” the 21-year-old New Yorker said during Tuesday’s telecast on KTTV Channel 11 and a collection of other independent stations around the country. Backstage, Carey, whose 1990 debut album has sold more than 4 million copies, said she is part black, the child of a white mother and a black Venezuelan father.

Besides awards for best R&B;/urban contemporary song of the year (“U Can’t Touch This”) and best rap album (“Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em”), M. C. Hammer was named this year’s recipient of the Sammy Davis Jr. Award, which is presented by the show’s producers. The other awards are based on the voting of approximately 3,000 retailers, radio industry personnel and artists from around the country.

The other multiple winner at the Shrine was singer Johnny Gill, for male R&B;/urban contemporary album and single.

Other winners were:

* En Vogue, R&B;/urban contemporary single by a group or duo.

* Bell Biv DeVoe, R&B;/urban contemporary album by a duo or group.

* Janet Jackson, video.

* The Winans, gospel album.

* Najee, jazz album.

* Smokey Robinson, the Heritage Award for lifetime achievement.