No one knows a city like a lifelong local. Especially when that local is MC Hammer.
"My admiration, love and understanding of the culture of Oakland is from experience," said Hammer, who was born in Oakland, in a video interview. "The thing that inspires me about Oakland is its ability to change. We are our own city."
Born Stanley Burrell, Hammer grew up in an East Oakland and earned his nickname from baseball player Reggie Jackson when he was a bat boy for the Oakland Athletics. ("I nicknamed him 'Hammer,' because he looked like Hank Aaron," Jackson said in an interview.) The A's CEO reportedly hired Hammer after seeing him dancing with a beatbox in the Oakland Coliseum parking lot.
"I've been here for 50 years," said Hammer. "I relax by driving through and reliving great memories of being a kid in Oakland."
"Oakland is a hub of creativity," he continued. "We are who we are: we're political, we're artsy, we're musicians. As an entrepreneur, Oakland is a fantastic place to be your base. After traveling the world, Oakland is still the place to be."
As part of the campaign, Hammer also released his recommendations for an ultimate day in the city. Dear readers, behold MC Hammer's guide to Oakland:
Explore the neighborhoods
"Oakland has some of the most ethnically diverse neighborhoods in the Bay Area, creating an environment filled with both rich traditions and innovative ideas. Whether you walk, bike or drive, you’ll find we are a city defined by our culture and creativity. We’re some of the warmest people around. From Chinatown to Uptown to our shoreline and hills, there are many ways to experience the city."
See a show at one of the Art Deco theaters
"Oakland's Art Deco palaces are not only full of entertainment, but will surely impress anyone who has an interest in history and architecture. The Grand Lake Theater screens Blockbuster and indie favorites on a state-of-the art setup. The renovated Fox Theater showcases some of the best acts today with its renowned acoustics. The Paramount Theatre will amaze attendees with its early 20th Century majestic interior. From live music and comedy to classic films and plays, these venues are pivotal to Oakland's entertainment scene."
Visit Lake Merritt
"From an urban oasis in the heart of the city, Lake Merritt, to miles of shoreline along the Bay, Oakland has some of the most unique outdoor recreation space in the region. Lake Merritt is the nation's largest urban lake, with a three-mile path around the perimeter that is perfect for a run or a stroll. Grab a bite to eat on Lakeshore or Grand Avenue and stroll the path to get a taste of Oakland's waterfront landscape."
Grab a bite at Jack London Square
"People are always surprised to see that Oakland has a shoreline. Voted by the <em>New York Times</em> as one of the top 45 places to visit, Jack London Square has it all. From food to music to events, check out Everett & Jones Barbeque for some of the best BBQ around (like they say, ‘Cooking up a real good time!’). Or try Scott’s Seafood Grill & Bar. For over 30 years, they’ve been serving up some of the best seafood, with picturesque waterfront views as you dine."
Catch a game
"Anyone who is a fan to sports will feel right at home in Oakland. Watch a game at the Oakland Coliseum—home to the Oakland Athletics and Oakland Raiders—or catch the Golden State Warriors next door at Oracle Arena. Oakland has some of the best weather in the Bay Area, and it’s easy to get to the Coliseum via local freeways, BART, bus or Amtrak. With 52 local multi-use fields accommodating baseball, football to soccer, we are a town that loves our teams, and Oakland is a great place to bring the kids and attend a game."
Plug into the tech community
"Oakland is centrally located in the Bay Area’s interactive/digital realm. We are a technology hub—connected to the world, and our reach is far. Be a part of the grassroots digital community at Farley’s East, or find out more about Oakland on the web and check out all the innovative and inspiring things happening in our city."