By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Finally, Kevin wrote a letter to Hammer, detailing his impression of what had occurred between them. "My song is on your tape," Kevin recalls writing. "I don't want to sue you...I want to talk to you and work this out." But Kevin never heard back. (Hammer would also not respond to repeated requests for interviews.)
Thus began Kevin's almost masochistic pursuit of Hammer. In August 1990, Hammer came to town. Kevin and Monica went to his show and heard his song done, without so much as a nod or mention from the stage. They waited outside the stage door in the futile hope of getting an audience with Hammer. "Looking back on it, I think I was trying to force him [Hammer] to give me some sort of definite answer," reflects Kevin--who was by then working as an usher at the Fair Park Music Hall. All Kevin got for his efforts were a few photographs--Hammer posing with him, then Monica. Otherwise, he remained evasive.
When Hammer came to Texas in November 1990 to play at the Tarrant County Convention Center, Kevin learned that he was staying at the Fort Worth Hyatt Regency. As before, he ran into Louis, who acted surprised when Kevin revealed that Hammer had never paid him for the song. "Hammer's brother was there with some guy, and he was telling him, 'Yeah, this is Hammer's partner in Dallas, he's the guy who wrote the uh-oh song,'" Kevin remembers. Louis told Kevin to wait while he brought Hammer down to speak with him.
By now he knew this drill. Hammer was a no-show, so Kevin followed Hammer's entourage to their suite of rooms upstairs. Eventually, he ran into Hammer and his security guards coming down the hall.
"Uh-oh man, how you doin'?" Kevin recalls Hammer saying.
"I'm doin' all right. We need to talk about my song."
The beefy guy with Hammer began weighing in on Kevin, telling him to stop distracting him before his show.
Kevin had just about had it with diplomacy and followed Hammer onto the elevator. "I told him that he stole my song, he didn't call me, he used my song without my permission." Hammer, says Kevin, then told him that he could do more with the song than Kevin could, and that he should be thankful he had.
Suddenly, Kevin found himself with a face full of bodyguard. "He told me to hush," Kevin recalls. "He had me pinned in one corner, and Hammer was over in the other one. He [Hammer] was looking at the ground. He wouldn't look at me."
When the elevator stopped, Hammer was the first one out. "Take care of yourself," he said as he scuttled away.
Finally, Kevin had his answer.
He still kept after his music career. "Kevin's always been very laid-back, even as a child," his mother says. "But when he finds something he believes in, he goes after it with his whole heart and won't put it down until it's finished. He was like that about theater at the Arts Magnet, and he was like that about Hammer."
Kevin continued to pursue other avenues, checking out hotels when there was a group in town, looking for another magic moment with another artist or act. "I always think that lightning could strike twice," he explains, "and I was determined to do what I could to make sure it did." Although he eventually got to the point at which he could accurately predict the place where almost every soul, R&B, or rap act through town would stay, he never made that golden connection again.
Eventually, Kevin quit canvassing hotels and withdrew from music, falling into what he calls "a deep slumber." His social life was a mess. His near miss inspired a lot of jealousy and sarcasm from his peers. All he had was his family, and he felt adrift. "I wanted to believe," he says, "not only was this my shot, but this was my song--which to me was a success, everywhere, and I wanted recognition of that."
Unfortunately, the early '90s were not very good years for people who were pained by MC Hammer's success. If Kevin wanted some kind of satisfaction from Hammer, he would have to stand in line.
By 1993, holes were beginning to appear in Hammer's well-thought-out pop facade. Stories of disgruntled partners, unpaid loans, and even worse began to surface, and lawsuits began to circle the megalomaniacal rapper. In 1991, fans in New York and Mississippi claimed that they'd been beaten by his security guards and filed suit. Not long afterward, his two buddies from the Athletics--Mike Davis and Dwayne Murphy--sued him for failing to honor the contract he had signed when they advanced him his seed money; eventually, they settled out of court. "I just never understood it," Murphy told the Atlanta Journal and Constitution. "The time he asked for the money, he called us, talked to us all the time. After he got out there in public, it was like, 'Forget you guys.'" In the first part of 1992, another investor, this one an old Navy buddy, sued, claiming that he had also advanced Hammer money--$5,000 in this case--to get the rapper started; he had also received nothing.