Queen Latifah: ‘MC Hammer Saved My Butt’

Rapper was left on stage when sound went out at Apollo Theater


Queen Latifah in Star

Hammer to the rescue!

Queen Latifah credits MC Hammer with helping her out of her own Mariah Carey-like performances snafu nearly 25 years ago.

And the “Can’t Touch This” rapper had no idea.

Latifah (real name: Dana Elaine Owens) was a young up-and-comer on stage at Harlem’s legendary Apollo Theater when a faulty sound system threw her a memorable curveball.

“The turntables went out,” she tells TheTVPage.com.  “The whole system went out.”

As Latifah, 46, recalls, “The Apollo is a place where you can get booed right off stage.”

So she quickly came up with a plan.

“MC Hammer had this commercial at the time where he is drinking a Pepsi and it changes his voice and he stared singing this jazz song,” she says.

“And I sang that same song and people died laughing.  They were like, ‘What?’  Then I explained what was going on and they were patient and we got out of it.”

“MC Hammer saved my butt!”

Latifah was at the Television Critics Association semi annual press tour in Pasadena today to talk up her new Fox TV series, STAR.

She plays Carlotta Brown, the owner of an Atlanta beauty salon who becomes a sort of musical fairy godmother to a young all girl singing group.

Here’s more from our chat:

Given your crazy experience on stage, what did you think when you saw that whole Mariah Carey performance on New Year’s Eve?
It happens.  It definitely happens.  It may seem very simple, but when you have a huge crowd around you and you are using ear buds to hear, you really can’t hear outside of that.  They are kind of like noise canceling headphones.  When they go off, you can hear nothing.  Everything is moving around you, but you can’t hear.

STAR is such an empowering show for young women.  What kind of advice would you give to young women right now?
I think this is an empowering show for everyone, not just young women.  Young men, young women and LGBTQ. The most important thing for me always is to love yourself, get God in your life and love yourself.  Don’t hate yourself.  Don’t tear yourself down because people who love themselves tend to work on their self esteem and try to do the right things and make good decisions.  People who don’t feel good about themselves can often make very bad decisions for their own lives.  So tough love.

Five years ago would you have seen yourself where you are today?  And where do you see yourself in another five years?
No, I wouldn’t have expected that this would have happened.  That I would be on a TV show.  I tend to hang loose.  A movie here, a movie there.  Take care of a bunch of business in between and travel the world.  But I am happy to be here.

What are some things you are still hoping to accomplish in your life and career?
I just want to be happy and I want my family and friends to be happy.  That’s about it.  Whatever accomplishes that.

Since Carlotta owns a beauty salon, did this show bring back any BEAUTY SHOP memories?
It does.  Luckily, I don’t do much hair in Carlota’s salon.  But I am prepared.  I learned what I needed to learn from BEAUTY SHOP.  If I need to pull somebody’s hair straight, it can happen, no problem.

Are you working on any of your own music right now?
Always.  Always working on new music.  I was actually having a conversation with my partner yesterday about that.  So we will see how soon something gets out.

How many songs do you have written?
Over 50.  But different genres.  Some jazz, some house, some gospel.

STAR airs Wednesday nights at 9:00 PM on Fox.

Sean Daly

Sean Daly

Editor-In-Chief at TheTVPage.com
Sean Daly is a veteran entertainment journalist.His work has appeared in People, Us Weekly, The Toronto Star and other top publications. He was the west coast TV reporter for The New York Post from 2008 - 2013. Sean is the author of Inside AGT: The Untold Stories of America's Got Talent and Teen Mom Confidential: Secrets and Scandals From MTV's Most Controversial Shows.
Sean Daly