MC Hammer

MC Hammer
MC Hammer

Hammer at TechCrunch in July 2008.
Background information
Birth name Stanley Kirk Burrell
Also known as (M.C. Hammer, Hammer, Hammertime, King Hammer)
Born March 30, 1962 (1962-03-30) (age 49)
Origin Oakland, California, United States
Genres Hip Hop, Dance, Pop Rap, House, Gospel
Occupations Rapper, Songwriter, Preacher, Dancer, Performer, Enterpreneur
Years active 1985–present
Labels Capitol Records, Giant Records, Full Blast Music
Associated acts Johnny J, Rick Ross, Vanilla Ice, Paperboy, Young Boss, D'Angelo

Stanley Kirk Burrell (born March 30, 1962), better known by his stage name MC Hammer (or simply Hammer), is an American rapper, entertainer, business entrepreneur, dancer and actor. He had his greatest commercial success and popularity from the late 1980s until the mid-1990s. Remembered for a rapid rise to fame before losing the majority of his fortune, Hammer is also known for his hit records, including "U Can't Touch This", flamboyant dance movements and trademark Hammer pants. Hammer's superstar-status made him a household name and pop icon.[1][2][3][4][5][6] He has sold more than 50 million records worldwide,[7] demonstrating hip hop's potential for mass market success.[8][9][10][11][12][13]

Burrell also became a preacher during the late 1990s, was a television show host and dance judge, is a record label CEO, and as of 2008 works as a co-creator of a dance website called DanceJam, while still performing concerts at music venues and assisting with other social media, ministry and outreach functions. In addition, he was executive producer of his own reality show called Hammertime which aired on the A&E Network during the summer of 2009.[14][15] Prior to becoming ordained, Hammer signed with Suge Knight's Death Row Records by 1995.

M.C. Hammer is considered a "forefather" and innovator[16] of pop rap, and is the first hip hop artist to achieve diamond status for an album.[17][18][19][20] Hammer was later considered a sell-out rapper due in part to over-exposure and as a result of his increasingly gritty image as the landscape of rap changed.[21][22][23] Nonetheless, BET ranked Hammer as the #7 "Best Dancer Of All Time".[24] Vibe's "The Best Rapper Ever Tournament" declared him the 17th favorite of all-time during the first round.[25]

Throughout his career, Hammer has managed his own recording business. As a result, he has created and produced his own acts including Oaktown's 3.5.7, Common Unity, Special Generation, Analise, One Cause One Effect, Teabag, Dom Kimberley, Geeman, Pleasure Ellis, B Angie B, Stooge Playaz, Ho Frat Ho[26] and Wee Wee, among others. Apart of additional record labels, he has associated/collaborated/recorded with VMF, Tupac Shakur, Teddy Riley, Felton Pilate, Tha Dogg Pound, Deion Sanders, Big Daddy Kane and Jon Gibson, as well as others. In 1992, Doug E. Fresh was signed to M.C. Hammer's Bust It Records label.


Early life

Stanley Kirk Burrell was born in Oakland, California as the adopted son of a nightclub manager and a police department assistant. He grew up poor with his mother, a secretary, and eight siblings in a small apartment in East Oakland. The future rapper recalled that six children were crammed into a three-bedroom housing project apartment. The young Burrell sold stray baseballs and danced with a beatbox at the Oakland Coliseum parking lot to earn money for games sometimes. Oakland A's team owner Charles O. Finley saw the 11-year-old doing splits and hired him as a clubhouse assistant and batboy as a result of his energy and flair.[16][27]

Burrell served as a "batboy" with the team from 1973 to 1980. In 2010, Hammer discussed his life-long involvement with sports athletes on ESPN's First Take as well as explained that his brother Louis Burrell (who would later become Hammer's business manager)[28][29] was actually the batboy while his job was to take calls and do "play-by-plays" for the A's absentee owner during every summer game.[30] The colorful Finley, who lived in Chicago,[16] used the child as his "eyes and ears."[31] Reggie Jackson, in describing Burrell's role for Finley, took credit for his nickname:

Hell, our chief executive, the guy that ran our team, uh, that communicated [with] Charlie Finley, the top man there, was a 13-year old kid. I nicknamed him "Hammer," because he looked like Hank Aaron.[31]

Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Pedro Garcia may also have given Burrell the nickname "Little Hammer" due to his resemblance to Aaron.[16] Ron Bergman, at the time an Oakland Tribune writer who covered the A's, recalled that:

He was an informant in the clubhouse, an informant for Charlie, and he got the nickname "Pipeline."[31]

According to Hammer:

Charlie said, "I'm getting you a new hat. I don't want you to have a hat that says "A's" on it. I'm getting you a hat that says 'Ex VP,' that says 'Executive Vice President.' You're running the joint around here." ... Every time I come down to the clubhouse, you know, Rollie would yell out "Oh, everybody be quiet! Here comes Pipeline!"[31]

He acquired the nickname "M.C." for being a "Master of Ceremonies" which he used when he began performing at various clubs while on the road with the A's, and eventually in the military.[16]

Hammer, who played second base in high school, dreamed of being a professional baseball player but did not make the final cut at a San Francisco Giants tryout.[16] However, he has now become a regular participant/player in the annual Taco Bell All-Star Legends and Celebrity Softball Game wearing an A's cap to represent Oakland (American League).[32][33][34]

Burrell went on to graduate from high school in Oakland and took undergraduate classes in communications. Discouraged by his studies at a local college and failing to win a place in a professional baseball organization, Hammer considered the drug trade.[16] Instead he joined the Navy[16] for three years, serving with Patron (Patrol Squadron) Forty Seven (VP-47) of Moffett Field in Mountain View, California as a Petty Officer Third Class Aviation Store Keeper (AK3) until his honorable discharge.[35]

Music career

Before his mainstream career and "rags-to-riches-to-rags-and-back saga",[36] Burrell formed Christian rap music group Holy Ghost Boys, producing songs called "Word", "B-Boy Chill"[37] and later releasing "This Wall"[38] (it was within the lyrics of this song that Burrell first identified himself as M.C. Hammer)[39][40] with CCM's Jon Gibson (or "J.G.").[41] This rap hit appeared on Gibson's album Change of Heart,[42] and "Son of the King" showed up on Hammer's debut album Feel My Power (1987), as well as the updated version Let's Get It Started (1988).[43][44][45]

With exception to later remixes of early releases, Hammer produced and recorded many rap songs that were never made public, yet are now available on the Internet.[46] Via his record labels such as Bust It Records, Oaktown Records and FullBlast, Hammer has introduced, signed and produced new talent including Oaktown's 3.5.7, Ho Frat Ho,[47] the vocal quintet Special Generation, Analise,[48] James Greer,[49] One Cause One Effect,[16] B Angie B, The Stooge Playaz,[50][51] DASIT (as seen on ego trip's The (White) Rapper Show),[52] Teabag, Common Unity, Geeman[53] and Pleasure Ellis;[54] both collaborating with him and producing raps of their own during his career.[55][56] Some of these artists can now be found on YouTube or other video sites such as[57][58]

At about the age of 12, Oakland native Keyshia Cole recorded with Hammer and sought career advice from him.[59][60][61][62]

Feel My Power (1987)

In the mid-80s while rapping in small venues and after a record deal went sour, Hammer borrowed US$20,000 each from former Oakland A's players Mike Davis and Dwayne Murphy to start a record label business called Bust It Productions.[16] He kept the company going by selling records from his basement and car. Bust It spawned Bustin' Records, the independent label of which Hammer was CEO. Together, the companies had more than 100 employees.[16] Recording singles and selling them out of the trunk of his car, he marketed himself relentlessly. Coupled with his dance abilities, Hammer's style was unique at the time.

Now billing himself as "M.C. Hammer", he recorded his debut album, Feel My Power, which was produced between 1986–1987 and released independently in 1987 on his Oaktown Records label (Bustin').[63] It was produced by Felton Pilate (of Con Funk Shun), and sold over 60,000 copies. In the spring of 1988, a DJ played the track "Let's Get It Started" — a song in which he declared he was "...second to none, from Doug E. Fresh, LL Cool J, or DJ Run" — after which the track began to gain popularity in clubs. (He would continue to call out other East Coast rappers in future projects as well.)

Hammer also released a single called "Ring 'Em", and largely on the strength of tireless street marketing by Hammer and his wife, it achieved considerable popularity at dance clubs in the San Francisco Bay Area. Heartened by his rising prospects, Hammer launched into seven-day-a-week rehearsals with the growing troupe of dancers, musicians, and backup vocalists he had hired. It was Hammer's stage show, and his infectious stage presence, that led to his big break in 1988 while performing in an Oakland club. There he impressed a record executive who "didn't know who he was, but knew he was somebody", as was quoted as saying in the New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll.

M.C. had received several offers from major record labels before (which he initially declined due to his personal success), but after the successful release of this independent album and elaborate live dance show amazed the Capitol Records executive, Hammer agreed to sign a record deal soon after. Hammer took home a US$1,750,000 advance and a multi-album contract, which did not take long for Capitol to recoup its investment.[27]

Let's Get It Started (1988)

Once signed to Capitol Records, Hammer re-issued his first record (a revised version of Feel My Power) with additional tracks added and sold over 2 million copies. "Pump It Up", "Turn This Mutha Out", "Let's Get It Started" and "They Put Me in the Mix" were the most popular singles from this album which all charted. But not quite satisfied with this first multi-platinum success, Hammer's music underwent a metamorphosis, shifting from the standard rap format in his upcoming album. "I decided the next album would be more musical," he says. Purists chastised him for being more dancer than rapper. Sitting in a leopard-print bodysuit before a concert, he defended his style: "People were ready for something different from the traditional rap style. The fact that the record has reached this level indicates the genre is growing."[16]

M.C. Hammer was very good friends with Arsenio Hall, as well as a then-unknown teen named Robert Van Winkle (aka Vanilla Ice) - despite later rumors that there was a "beef" between the two rappers which was addressed during the height of their careers on Hall's show[64] - who he would later reunite with in a 2009 concert in Salt Lake City, Utah.[65] Therefore, Hammer was first invited to perform the song "U Can't Touch This", prior to its release, on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1989.[66] He also performed "Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em", a song that didn't make it on his upcoming album, but did appear in the same-titled movie.

Hammer used some of the proceeds from this album to install a rolling recording studio in the back of his tour bus, where he recorded much of his sophomore effort.[27]

Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em (1990)

Notorious for dissing rappers in his previous recordings, Hammer appropriately titled his third album (and second major-label release) Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em,[67] which was released February 12, 1990 (with an original release date of January 1, 1990).[68] It included the successful single "U Can't Touch This" (which sampled Rick James' "Super Freak"). It was produced, recorded, and mixed by Felton Pilate and James Earley on a modified tour bus (while on tour) in 1989.[69] Despite heavy airplay and a #27 chart debut, "U Can't Touch This" stopped at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart because it was released only as a twelve-inch single.[clarification needed] However, the album was a #1 success for 21 weeks, due primarily to this single, the first time ever for a rap recording on the pop charts. The song has been and continues to be used in many filmmaking and television shows to date, and appears on soundtrack/compilation albums as well.[70]

Follow-up successes included "Have You Seen Her" (a cover of the Chi-Lites) and "Pray" (a beat sampled from Prince's "When Doves Cry" and Faith No More's "We Care a Lot"),[71] which was his biggest hit in the US, peaking at #2. "Pray" was also a major UK success, peaking at #8. The album went on to become the first hip-hop album to earn diamond status, selling more than 18 million units to date.[17][18][19][20] During 1990, Hammer toured extensively in Europe which included a sold-out concert at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham. With the sponsorship of PepsiCo, PepsiCo International CEO Christopher A. Sinclair went on tour with him during 1991.

The album was notable for sampling other high-profile artists and gave some of these artists a new fanbase. "Dancin' Machine" sampled The Jackson 5, "Help the Children" (also the name of an outreach foundation Hammer started)[72] interpolates Marvin Gaye's "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)", and "She's Soft and Wet" also sampled Prince's "Soft and Wet". All of these songs proved to be successful on radio and video television, with "U Can't Touch This," "Pray" (most successful), "Have You Seen Her," "Here Comes the Hammer," and "Yo!! Sweetness" (UK only) all charting. The album increased the popularity of hip-hop music. It remains the genre's all-time best-selling album.[73]

At the same time, he also appeared in The West Coast Rap All-Stars posse cut "We're All in the Same Gang." Music videos from this album and the previous albums began to receive much airplay on MTV and VH1. A movie also accompanied the album and was produced at this same time called "Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em: The Movie" along with music videos included within the movie.[74]

A critical backlash began over the repetitive nature of his lyrics, his clean-cut image, and his perceived over-reliance on sampling others' entire hooks for the basis of his singles—criticisms also directed to his contemporary, Vanilla Ice. He was mocked in music videos by 3rd Bass, The D.O.C., DJ Debranz, and Ice Cube. Oakland hip-hop group Digital Underground mocked him in the CD insert of its Sex Packets album when placing his picture in with the other members and referring to him as an unknown derelict. In fact, LL Cool J mocked him in "To tha Break of Dawn," a track on his Mama Said Knock You Out album, calling Hammer an "amateur, swinging a Hammer from a bodybag [his pants]," and saying, "My old gym teacher ain't supposed to rap." (LL Cool J would later compliment and commend Hammer's abilities/talents on VH-1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop, which aired in 2008). However, Ice-T came to his defense on his 1991 album O.G. Original Gangster: "A special shout out to my man M.C. Hammer: a lot of people dis you, man, but they just jealous." Ice-T later explained that he had nothing against people who were pop-rap from the start, as Hammer had been, but only against emcees who switch from being hardcore or dirty to being pop-rap so that they can sell more records.

Despite the criticisms, Hammer's career continued to be highly successful including tours in Asia, Europe, Australia, and Russia. Soon after, M.C. Hammer Mattel dolls, lunchboxes, and other merchandise were marketed. He was also given his own Saturday morning cartoon, called Hammerman, which he hosted and voiced.[75]

Too Legit to Quit (1991)

After publicly dropping the "M.C." from his stage name, Hammer released Too Legit to Quit (also produced by Felton Pilate) in 1991. Hammer answered his critics within certain songs from the album. Sales were strong (over five million copies),[76] with the title track being the biggest hit single from this record. The album peaked in the Top 5 of the Billboard 200. Another hit came soon after, with "Addams Groove" (which appeared on both The Addams Family motion picture soundtrack and the vinyl and cassette versions of 2 Legit 2 Quit), reaching #7 in the U.S. and #4 in the UK. His video for the song appeared after the movie.

Hammer set out on a tour for this album, but the stage show had become as lavish as his lifestyle; loaded with singers, dancers, and backup musicians, the supporting concert tour was too expensive for the album's sales to finance, and it was canceled partway through.[77] In 1992, Boyz II Men joined Hammer's high-profile 2 Legit 2 Quit tour as an opening act. While traveling the country, their tour manager Khalil Roundtree was murdered in Chicago, and the group's future performances of "It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday" were dedicated to him. As a result of this unfortunate experience, the song would help advance their success.[78]

Music videos were produced for all four singles released from this album (including "Do Not Pass Me By" and "This Is The Way We Roll"), all which charted. The "2 Legit 2 Quit" video featured many celebrity appearances. It's been ranked as one of the most expensive videos ever made.[79] The hand motions used within the song and video also became very popular.[80] The song proved to be successful in the U.S., peaking at the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, at #5. Despite the album's multi-platinum certification, the sales were one-third of Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em.

At the end of the "Too Legit to Quit" video, after James Brown enlists Hammer to get the famous glove of Michael Jackson, a silver-white sequined glove is shown on the hand of a Michael Jackson look-alike doing the "2 Legit 2 Quit" hand gesture.[81] In a related story, M.C. Hammer appeared on The Wendy Williams Show (July 27, 2009) and talked about his hit reality show Hammertime on A&E, his marriage, his role as a dad and the reasons he eventually went bankrupt. He told an amusing story about a phone call he received from "M.J.", regarding the portion of the "2 Legit 2 Quit" video that included a fake Michael Jackson, giving his approval and inclusion of it. He explained how Michael had seen the video and liked it, and both expressed they were a fan of each others.[82] Hammer and Jackson would later appear, speak and/or perform at the funeral service for James Brown in 2006.[83][84][85]

Prior to Hammer's next album (The Funky Headhunter), rumors from critics and fans began claiming Hammer had quit the music/entertainment business and had suffered a financial downfall (since a couple of years pass in between the two records), which Hammer denied at the time.[76]

New venture (Oaktown/Giant)

Hammer claimed rumors falsely heralded his downfall, probably as a result of the fact he turned over his "trimmed-down" Bust It Records to his brother and manager Louis Burrell, and his horse-racing interests to his brother Chris and his father, Louis Burrell Sr.[76] In the meantime, Hammer, a big sports fan, launched a new enterprise, Roll Wit It Entertainment & Sports Management (which released DRS' two-million-selling "Gangsta Lean") and had clients such as Evander Holyfield, Deion Sanders and Reggie Brooks.[28] During the hiatus between albums, Hammer consequently signed a multimillion-dollar deal with a new record company. He said there were a lot of bidders, but "not too many of them could afford Hammer".[76]

Therefore, Hammer parted ways with Pilate, and switched record labels to Giant Records, taking his Oaktown label with him. Hammer was later sued by Felton Pilate (who had worked with the successful vocal group Con Funk Shun) and by several of his former backers, and faced charges that performance troupe members endured an abusive, militaristic atmosphere.[27] By this time, he also parted ways with his only female executive, Linda Lou McCall, a songwriter and music industry consultant specializing in entertainment marketing, street promotion, and creative development (having worked with Con Funk Shun and The Delfonics previously and artists such as Notorious B.I.G and Eminem afterwards) who signed Keith Martin as a backup musician and vocalist for Hammer.[86]

With a new home, a new daughter, a new record, and a new business, Hammer claimed he was happy and far from being broke during a tour of his mansion for Ebony. "Today there is a more aggressive Hammer, because the '90s require you to be more aggressive", he said of his music. "There is a harder edge, but I'm no gangsta. Hammer in the '90s is on the offense, on the move, on the attack. And it's all good".[87]

The Funky Headhunter (1994)

In 1993, Hammer began recording his fifth official album. To adapt to the changing landscape of hip-hop, this album was a more aggressive sounding album entitled The Funky Headhunter. He co-produced this record with funky rapper and producer, Stefan Adamek. While Hammer's appearance changed to keep up with the gangsta rap audience, his lyrics still remained honest and somewhat clean with minor cursing. Yet, as with previous records, Hammer would continue to call out and disrespect other rappers on this album. As with some earlier songs such as "Crime Story" (from the album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em),[88] the content and reality about "street life" remained somewhat the same, but the sound was different, resulting in Hammer losing favor with fans.[89][90] Nonetheless, this harder-edged, more aggressive record went gold, but failed to win him a new audience among hardcore hip-hop fans.[77]

In another appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show during the mid-1990s, Hammer debuted the video for "Pumps and a Bump". Talk show host Arsenio Hall said to M.C. Hammer, "Women in the audience want to know, what's in your speedos in the 'Pumps and a Bump' video?" A clip from the video was then shown, to much approval from the audience. Hammer didn't give a direct answer, but instead laughed. Arsenio then said, "I guess that's why they call you 'Hammer.' It ain't got nothin' to do with Hank Aaron."[91]

The accompanying video to the album's first single, "Pumps and a Bump", was banned from heavy rotation on MTV with censors claiming that the depiction of Hammer in Speedos (and with what appeared to be an erection) was too graphic.[92] This led to an alternative video being filmed (with Hammer fully clothed) that was directed by Bay Area native Craig S. Brooks, who also helmed the video of rap group DRS' only hit single "Gangsta Lean".

"It's All Good" was the second single released, which would become a pop culture phrase as a result of its success.[93] It was also the most successful song by this title.

Within this album, Hammer disses rappers such as A Tribe Called Quest (Q-Tip), Redman and Run DMC for previous attacks they made against him on wax. This quite possibly led to a decrease in his popularity after this comeback record responded to his critics.

On December 26, 1994, Deion Sanders released Prime Time, a rap album on Bust It Records (Hammer's label) that featured the minor hit "Must Be The Money". "Prime Time Keeps on Tickin'" was also released as a single. Sanders, a friend of Hammer's, had previously appeared in his "Too Legit to Quit" music video, and his alter-ego "Prime Time" is also used in Hammer's "Pumps and a Bump" video.

The song "Help Lord (Won't You Come)" appeared in Kingdom Come.[94]

This album peaked at number two on the R&B charts and remained in the Top 30 midway through the year.[91] To date, it has managed to become certified platinum.

V Inside Out (1995)

In 1995, Hammer released the album V Inside Out (or inside out V), which critics claimed was unfocused, as it was unclear if the genre was pop or rap. However, some critics praised the fact it was perhaps intentionally eclectic (combining elements of dance, pop, rap, hip hop, alternative rock and gospel).[95][96] Nonetheless, the album sold poorly (peaking at 119 on the Billboard Charts) and Giant Records dropped him and Oaktown Records from their roster. Songs "Going Up Yonder" and "Sultry Funk" managed to get moderate radio play (even charting on national radio station countdowns).

This album had not sold as well as its predecessors. Some claimed it was victim of the "crab mentality".[97] Hammer would go on to explain in this album that he felt many of his so-called friends he staffed used and betrayed him which contributed to a majority of his financial loss (best explained in the song "Keep On" from this album).[98] He would also hint about this again in interviews, including The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2009.[99]

Death Row Records (1995–1996)

In 1995, Hammer released "Straight to My Feet" (with Deion Sanders) from the Street Fighter soundtrack (released in December 1994). The song charted #57 in the UK.

Hammer's relationship with Suge Knight dates back to 1988. Hammer signed with Death Row Records, then home to Snoop Dogg and his close friend, Tupac Shakur.[22] The label did not release the album of Hammer's music (Too Tight) while he had a career with them (although he did release versions of some tracks on his next album).[100][101] However, Burrell did record tracks with Shakur and others, most notably the song "Too Late Playa" (along with Big Daddy Kane and Danny Boy).[102][103] After the death of Shakur in 1996, Burrell left the record company.[104] He later explained his concern about this circumstance in an interview on Trinity Broadcasting Network since he was in Las Vegas with Tupac the night of his death.[105]

Return to EMI (1996–1997)

In 1996, Burrell and Oaktown signed with EMI, which saw the release of a compilation of Hammer's chart topping songs prior to The Funky Headhunter album. The album, Greatest Hits, featured 12 former hits and was released in October.[106] Since then, several compilation album versions of his "greatest hits" have been produced.

Hammer's empire began to collapse when his last few albums failed to match the sales of its predecessors. Since he unsuccessfully attempted to recast himself in the streetwise "gangsta rap" mold of the day, Hammer turned to a gospel-friendly audience.[27]

Family Affair (1998)

In 1998, M.C. Hammer released his first album in his new deal with EMI, titled Family Affair, because it was to introduce the world to the artists he had signed to his Oaktown Records (Geeman, Teabag, and Common Unity) as they made their recording debut. Technically his seventh album since his debut EP, this record was highly promoted on Trinity Broadcasting Network (performing a more gospel version of "Keep On" from his album V Inside Out), but featured no charting singles and selling between about 100,000-500,000 copies worldwide.[107][108] Nonetheless, it did include a song originally by 2Pac that was given to Hammer which he did as a remake on this album called "Unconditional Love".[55][109] Hammer would later dance and read the lyrics to this song on the first VH1 Hip Hop Honors in 2004.[110][111]

After this album, new projects were rumored to be in the works, including an album (War Chest: Turn of the Century) and a soundtrack to the film Return to Glory: The Powerful Stirring of the Black Man, but neither appeared.[112][113]

Active Duty (2001)

Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, M.C. Hammer released his 8th studio album, Active Duty, on his own World Hit Music Group label (the musical enterprise under his Hammertime Holdings Inc. umbrella) to pay homage to the ones lost in the terrorist attacks.[49] The album followed that theme, and featured two singles, "No Stoppin' Us (USA)" and "Pop Yo Collar" (featuring Wee Wee) which demonstrates "The Phat Daddy Pop", "In Pop Nito", "River Pop", "Deliver The Pop" and "Pop'n It Up" dance moves.[114][115] The album, like its predecessor, failed to chart and would not sell as many copies as previous projects. Hammer did however promote it on such shows as The View and produced a video for both singles.[116]

This patriotic album, originally planned to be titled The Autobiography Of M.C. Hammer, donated portions of the proceeds to 9/11 charities.[48][49][117] Hammer shot a video for the anthem "No Stoppin' Us (USA)" in Washington, D.C., with several members of the United States Congress, who sang in the song and danced in the video. Present members of the United States House of Representatives included J. C. Watts, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Thomas M. Davis, Earl Hilliard, Alcee Hastings, Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.), Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) and Jesse Jackson, Jr.

Full Blast (2004)

After leaving Capitol Records and EMI for the second time in his career, M.C. Hammer decided to move his Oaktown imprint to an independent distributor and released his ninth studio album, Full Blast (which was completed in late 2003 and released as a complete album in early 2004). The album would feature no charting singles and failed to certify in the RIAA. A video was produced for "Full Blast", a song that attacks Eminem and Busta Rhymes for previous disrespect towards him.

Some of the original songs didn't end up making the final album release. Guest artists included The Stooge Playaz, Pleasure, Rain, JD, Greer & DasIt.[5][118][119]

Look Look Look (2006)

After going independent, he decided to create a digital label to release his tenth studio album, Look Look Look. The album was released in February 2006 and featured production from Scott Storch. The album featured the title-track single (Look Look Look) and a music video. It would sell much better than his previous release (400,000 copies worldwide). "YAY" was produced by Lil Jon. "What Happened to Our Hood?" (featuring Sam Logan) was originally from Active Duty.

"I Got It From The Town" was used in the movie but not present on The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (soundtrack).

Between 2006 and 2007, Hammer released a military-inspired rap song with a political message to President George W. Bush about sending American troops back home from war, called "Bring Our Brothers Home".[120] The video was filmed at the Santa Monica Pier.[121][122]

DanceJamtheMusic (2009)

Since his 2006 album, Hammer continued to produce music and released several other raps that appeared on his social websites (such as Myspace) or in commercials,[123] with another album announced to be launced in late 2008 (via his own record label Fullblast Playhouse). Talks of the tour and a new album were expected in 2009.[51][124][125]

"Getting Back to Hetton" was made public in 2008 as a digital single. It was a new departure for Hammer, bringing in funky deep soul and mixing it with a more house style. Released through licence on Whippet Digital Recordings, media reviews were said to be "disappointing". However, the song "I Got Gigs" from this eleventh album was used in a 2009 ESPN commercial and performed during Hammertime.[126]

Other tracks and videos from the album included: "I Go" (produced by Lil Jon), "Keep It In Vegas", "Lookin' Out The Window", "Dem Jeans" (by DASIT), "Stooge Karma Sutra" (by The Stooge Playaz) and "Tried to Luv U" (by DASIT featuring Pleasure Ellis).[6][127][128]

MC Hammer performing with Vanilla Ice in July 2009.

In March 2009, M.C. Hammer and Vanilla Ice had a one-off concert in the McKay Events Center, Orem, Utah.[65] This concert aided in the promotion of Hammer's new music and television show. During the concert, as shown on Hammer's show Hammertime, it was mentioned between the two rappers that this was their first headline show together in nearly 20 years when they were touring together at the peak of their hip-hop careers. Hammer said: "Contrary to popular belief, Ice and I are not only cool with each other, we are like long lost friends. I've known him since he was 16, before he had a record contract and before I had a record contract. It is a great reunion." Vanilla Ice, real name Robert Van Winkle, said: "It's like no time has passed at all. We set the world on fire back in the day - it gives me goosebumps to think about. The concert wouldn't have been so packed if it wasn't us together. I'm so happy right now, the magic is here."[129][130][131]

Current releases (2010-present)

"Better Run Run" (2010)

M.C. Hammer promised to release a track responding to a rap by Jay-Z which attacked him, expected on October 31, 2010. On the "So Appalled" track, which features Swizz Beatz and RZA, Jay-Z spits a line which targets Hammer for his fall from grace in the 1990s, which left him in a financial disaster. On it Jay says: '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'. Hammer addressed his displeasure about the diss on Twitter, claiming he will react to Jay-Z on Halloween.[132][133][134]

Hammer recently released a sample of his "beef" with Jay-Z (aka 'Hell Boy') in a brief teaser trailer called "Better Run Run" by 'King Hammer'. At one point, it was uncertain if his reaction would be a film video, a music video or a combination of both.[135] Regardless, he claimed he would show evidence that 'Jigga worships the devil'.[136][137] It's possible that Jay-Z was offended by an analogy Hammer was conveying in an earlier interview in response to "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)" on AllHipHop.[138]

On November 1, Hammer's new video ("Better Run Run!") hit the web in retaliation to Jay-Z's September diss towards him.[139][140] M.C. accuses Jigga of being in league (and in the studio) with Satan — and then Hammer defeats the devil and forces Jay to be baptized. Speaking on the video, Jacob O'Gara of Ethos Magazine wrote: "What’s more likely is that this feud is the last chapter in the tragic cautionary tale of M.C. Hammer, a tale that serves as a warning to all present and future kings of hip-hop. Keep your balance on the pedestal and wear the crown strong or you’ll have the Devil to pay."[141] Some bloggers felt Hammer shouldn't have responded the way he did.[142][143][144]

In an interview with BBC's DJ Semtex, 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. "I didn't know I was the first person ever to say that..." He continued, "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. 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!"[145]

M.C. Hammer decided to bury the hatchet with Jay-Z since the falling-out. Hammer had claimed Jay-Z was an imposter and stole his "swagger", but according to, Jay-Z tried to calm the situation by claiming his lyrics in question had been misinterpreted and that he's actually a fan of the rap stalwart, having praised him in his latest book. Hammer came around and told the website: "As a responsible veteran of twenty-something years of this, I can't leave it out there with tensions. I am reading comments on both sides - it's not about that, I have seen all of that before. There is an opportunity to say at some point we should move onto the next thing. You know, Jay took his shot and I answered. Now let's move on".[146]

"See Her Face" (2011)

M.C. Hammer released a new track "See Her Face (She Got It)" in February 2011 via Flipboard and world premiered during an episode of Oprah in February 2011.[147][148][149]

Additional business ventures

In 1991, M.C. Hammer established Oaktown Stable that would eventually have nineteen Thoroughbred racehorses. That year, his outstanding filly Lite Light won several Grade I stakes races including the prestigious Kentucky Oaks. His D. Wayne Lukas-trained colt Dance Floor won the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and the Breeders' Futurity Stakes in 1991, then the following year won the Fountain of Youth Stakes and finished 3rd in the 1992 Kentucky Derby. He continues to attend shows as well as many sporting events along side celebrities.

Hammer had several costly videos, two in particular were Too Legit to Quit or 2 Legit 2 Quit (which many celebrities appeared in) and "Here Comes the Hammer".[79][150]

In the late 1990s into the early 2000s, along with a new clothing line called "J Slick", Hammer began creating and working on M.C. Hammer USA, an interactive online portal.[151]

In 2002, Hammer signed a book contract with publishing company Simon & Schuster which called for a release the following year. However, a manuscript for an inspirational book called Enemies of the Father: Messages from the Heart on Being a Family Man (addressing the situation of African American men), for which Hammer received advance money to write, was never submitted in 2003. This resulted in Hammer being sued by the book company over claims that he never finished the book as promised. The company's March 2009 lawsuit sought return of the US$61,000 advance given to Hammer for the unwritten book about fatherhood.[27][152][153]

As a result of his previous success, Hammer has now become somewhat of a popular web mogul and activist, currently involved in several Internet projects (such as the TechCrunch40 conferences and DanceJam).[154][155][156] In early 2008, Hammer launched his newest project as co-founder and chief strategy officer of Menlo Park-based (Silicon Valley) This exclusive community site is only dedicated to dancing video competitions, techniques and styles which Hammer, and others, judge or rate.[157][158]

In July 2010, Hammer started a mixed martial arts management company to manage, market, promote, and brand-build for fighters such as Nate Marquardt, Tim F. Kennedy, and Vladimir Matyushenko, among others. According to and Bizjournals, his new company is Alchemist Management in Los Angeles. It now manages 10 fighters.[159] That same month, Hammer also announced his latest venture called Alchemist Clothing. The brand described as a colorful new lifestyle clothing line debuted during an Ultimate Fighting Championship fight in Austin. Middleweight fighter Nate "The Great" Marquardt wore an Alchemist shirt as he walked out to the ring. Hammer has shown an interest in boxing throughout his career.[160]

In October 2011, Hammer announced a new internet venture called WireDoo - a "deep search engine" that is planned to compete with the major search engines including [Google] and [Bing]. [161]

Television & film career

M.C. Hammer has made cameos and/or performed on many television shows such as Saturday Night Live (as host and musical guest), Amen and Martin. He also made a cameo in the 1993 Arnold Schwarzenegger film Last Action Hero. Hammer would also go on to appear as himself on The History of Rock 'N' Roll, Vol. 5 (1995).[162] Additionally, he has been involved in movies as an actor - such as in One Tough Bastard (1996), Reggie's Prayer (1996), the Showtime film The Right Connections (1997), Deadly Rhapsody (2001) and Finishing the Game (2007)[163] - and as a television and movie producer as well.[164][165][166][167]

In 1991, M.C. Hammer and Bust It Productions (including B Angie B, Special Generation and Ho Frat Ho) appeared in concert from New Orleans on BET.[168]

Despite public attacks about his financial status, after meeting at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, Nevada in April 2001, it was Hammer (credited as a producer)[73] who provided the much needed funding to filmmaker Justin Lin for Better Luck Tomorrow (2002). In its first ever film acquisition, MTV Films eventually acquired Better Luck Tomorrow after it debuted at The Sundance Film Festival.[167][169] The director said, "Out of desperation, I called up MC Hammer because he had read the script and liked it. Two hours later, he wired the money we needed into a bank account and saved us."[165][170]

Hammer appeared in two cable television movies.[27] At the age of 39, he was one of the producers for the VH1 movie Too Legit: The M.C. Hammer Story, starring Romany Malco and Tangi Miller as his wife, which aired on December 19, 2001. The film is a biopic which chronicles the meteoric rise and precipitous fall of the rap singer. "2 Legit To Quit: The Life Story of M.C. Hammer" became the second highest-rated original movie in the history of VH1 and broadcasted simultaneously on BET.[73][171] "The whole script came from me," says Hammer, "I sat down with a writer and gave him all the information."[48]

In 2003, Hammer appeared on The WB's first season of The Surreal Life, a reality show known for assembling an eclectic mix of celebrities to live together. He was also a dance judge on the 2003 ABC Family TV series Dance Fever. Additionally, he appeared on VH1's And You Don't Stop: 30 Years of Hip-Hop (2004) as well as in 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s (2008), a countdown which he was also commentator on. His eldest child, A'Keiba Burrell, was a contestant on MTV's Rock the Cradle in April, 2008 (which Hammer also made appearances on).

According to past articles, Hammer had shown an interest in having his own reality show with specific television networks at one point. Already being a part of shows for VH1 and The WB (I Married... M.C. Hammer and The Surreal Life), it was later confirmed he would appear in Hammertime on A&E Network in the summer of 2009.[14] This reality show was about his personal, business and family life.[172][173][174] The following year, Hammer appeared on Live with Regis and Kelly June 3, 2009 to promote his show which began June 14, 2009 at 10 PM EST.[175][176][177]

In August 2008, a new ESPN ad featured Hammer in it, showcasing his single "I Got Gigs'" (from his DanceJamtheMusic album).[178][179] The commercial was for Monday Night Football's upcoming football season.[30] This is not the first commercial in more recent years that Hammer has been in, or his songs/raps/dancing was used for or included in. (i.e. Lay's, Hallmark Cards, Purell, Lysol, Nationwide Insurance, Citibank, etc.) On February 1, 2009, Hammer and Ed McMahon were featured in a Super Bowl XLIII commercial for[180]

Along with Betty White, Hammer appeared and voice-acted on the September 17, 2010 episode of Glenn Martin, DDS called "Step-brother".[181]

M.C. Hammer's music has also been used in many television shows and movies, especially "U Can't Touch This", such as The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (1990), Hot Shots! (1990), The Super (1991), Doogie Howser, M.D. (1992), Don't Be a Menace to South Central While Drinking Your Juice in the Hood (1996), Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle (2003), Into the Wild (2007), Tropic Thunder (2008), Dancing with the Stars (2009), Glee (2010) and many more. Additionally, "This Is What We Do" was a 1990 track by Hammer (featuring B Angie B) for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film and soundtrack. Tracks "That's What I Said" and "Feel My Power" were used for the Rocky V film and soundtrack. Some examples of other raps by Hammer used in movies and television were "Addam's Groove" (The Addams Family), "Pray" (License to Wed), "2 Legit 2 Quit" (Hot Rod), "I Got It From The Town" (The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift), "Help Lord, Won't You Come" (Kingdom Come), "Let's Go Deeper" (Beverly Hills, 90210) and "Straight to My Feet" (Street Fighter), among others.

Dancer and entertainer

M.C. Hammer's dance style not only helped pave the way for the Bay Area movement called Hyphy,[182] but also helped to bring hip-hop and rap to the Bay Area. His dancing skills are still taught to this day. With his popular trademark Hammer Pants, one phenomenal difference from Hammer versus other performers during his heyday was that he was an entertainer, both during live shows and in music videos. His flamboyant dancing was as much a part of his performances as rapping and musical instruments were. With high-energy dance routines, he is often considered one of the greatest dancers. While adding his own techniques, Hammer adopted styles from James Brown and The Nicholas Brothers such as the splits, and feverish choreographed dance routines including leaps and slides, most notably. His creation of such dances as "Hammer Dance"[183] (or the "Typewriter Dance") and the use of "The Running Man" and the "Butterfly," among others, made his flashy and creative dance skills unlike any others at the time.

Hammer's showmanship and elaborate stage choreography, involving fifteen dancers, twelve backup singers, seven live musicians and two disc jockeys, gave him a powerful visual appeal. Hammer was the first rap artist to put together a choreographed show of this type, and his visual flair attracted heavy airplay for his videos on MTV, which at the time had a predominantly white viewership that had aired little rap music before Hammer.[27]

During a 1990 visit from M.C. Hammer (accompanied by his friend Fab Five Freddy) on Yo! MTV Raps, one of the dancers whom Hammer was holding auditions for was a then-unknown Jennifer Lopez.

At the height of his career, Hammer had his legs insured for a substantial amount of money (into the millions), as mentioned in an interview by Maria Shriver in the early 90s. He later suffered an injury to his knee that halted his dancing career for a period of time.[43] Eventually, BET ranked Hammer as the 7th Best Dancer Of All Time.[24] Some of Hammer's entourage, or "posse" as he called them, were also trained/skilled dancers. They participated in videos and at concerts, yet too many dancers and band members eventually contributed to Hammer's downfall, proving to be too much for him to finance.[184]

In 2000, Hammer's rap video for "Pop Yo Collar" (featuring Wee Wee) demonstrated "The Phat Daddy Pop", "In Pop Nito", "River Pop", "Deliver The Pop" and "Pop'n It Up" dance moves.[114][115]

Hammer is still active in the dance media/genre, both on television shows and as co-founder of (which showcases dance competitions and instructional videos on all the latest dance styles).[155] Well known for bringing choreography to hip-hop, many of his dancing skills can now be seen on this dance-focused social networking site. "Dance is unlike any other social medium. It's the core of our culture," Burrell told Wired News.[157]

In addition to his websites and other Internet appearances,[156] Hammer has also appeared demonstrating much of his dancing abilities on talk shows such as The Arsenio Hall Show, Soul Train, Late Night with Conan O'Brien (performing O'Brien's famous "string dance" together as well), Ellen, The View and was a dancing judge on Dance Fever. On June 3, 2009, he performed the "Hammer dance" on Live with Regis and Kelly with Will Ferrell as co-host.[176][185][186]

While Hammer may have challenged and competed with Michael Jackson during the height of his career, they were friends, proven by a phone call Hammer had with Jackson about his "Too Legit to Quit" video which he shared on The Wendy Williams Show (July 2009). Hammer wanted to ensure he was not offended by the ending of the video where a purported Michael Jackson (seen only from behind) does the "2 Legit 2 Quit" hand gesture with his famous glove.[81][82][84][85] They also appeared together at the funeral service for James Brown in 2006, where Hammer danced in honor of The Godfather of Soul.[83] After Jackson's death, Hammer posted his remembrance and sympathy of the superstar on Twitter. Michael's friend and fellow pop culture icon Hammer told Spinner that, "now that the King of Pop has passed, it's the duty of his fans and loved ones to carry Jackson's creative torch." He went on to say, "Michael Jackson lit the fuse that ignited the spirit of dance in us all. He gave us a song and a sweet melody that will never die. Now we all carry his legacy with joy and pride."[187]

Bankruptcy, lawsuits and media reaction

Contrary to public rumor, Hammer claimed he was far from down-and-out[original research?] during the release of The Funky Headhunter album.[188] Nonetheless, as a result of the fickle public growing bored with his positive and poppy style during the rise of gangsta rap, as well as excessive spending while supporting friends and family,[189] Hammer later went $13 million into debt. Because of dwindling album sales, unpaid loans and a lavish lifestyle, Hammer eventually filed for bankruptcy in April 1996 at a California court.[190]

Hammer's mansion was sold for a fraction of its former price.[188][191][192][193] "My priorities were out of order", he told Ebony. He claimed, "My priorities should have always been God, family, community, and then business. Instead they had been business, business, and business". Along with Felton Pilate and other group members, Rick James sued Hammer for infringement of copyright, but the suit was settled out of court when Hammer agreed to credit James as co-composer, effectively cutting James in on the millions of dollars the record was earning. By the late 1990s, though, Hammer seemed to stabilize himself and made himself ready to undertake new projects.[27]

In 1992, Hammer had admitted in depositions and court documents to getting the idea for the song "Here Comes The Hammer" from a Christian recording artist in Dallas, Texas named Kevin Christian. Christian had filed a 16 million dollar lawsuit against Hammer for copyright infringement for his song entitled "Oh-Oh, You Got The Shing". This fact, compounded with witness testimony from both Hammer's and Christian's entourages, and other evidence (including photos), brought about a settlement with Capitol Records in 1994. The terms of the settlement remain sealed. Hammer settled with Christian the following year.[194][195]

In 1997, just prior to beginning his ministry, M.C. Hammer (who by that time had re-adopted the "M.C.") was the subject of an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show and the VH1 series Behind the Music (music from his album V Inside Out was featured in this documentary).[196][197] In these appearances, Burrell admitted 'that [he] had already used up most of [his] fortune of over $20 million, proving that money is nothing if it doesn't bring peace and if priorities are wrong'.[198] He would go on to express a similar point in other interviews as well.[199]

During numerous interviews on radio stations and television channels throughout the years to come, Hammer has been questioned about his bankruptcy.[104][200][201] For example, during an interview by WKQI-FM (95.5) for the promotion of his "Pioneers Of Hip Hop 2009" gig at the Fox Theatre (Detroit, Michigan) which featured 2 Live Crew, Naughty by Nature, Too Short, Biz Markie & Roxanne Shanté, Hammer was asked about his finances by the "Mojo in the Morning" host. Hammer responded on Twitter that Mojo was a 'coward' and threatened to cancel commercials for his upcoming show.[202][203][204]

Personal life

At the time of his first album, Hammer opened his own music management firm. As a result of the success of his third album, Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt 'Em, Hammer had amassed approximately US$33 million.[193] US$12 million of this total was used to have his Xanadu-like home built in Fremont, California, 30 miles (50 km) south of where he grew up.[192][205][206] Jet estimated that Hammer employed 200 people, with an annual payroll of US$6.8 million.[27] He currently resides in a large ranch-style abode situated on a two-acre corner lot in Tracy, California [207] with his wife Stephanie of 25 years (whom he met at a church revival meeting and married December 21, 1985)[208] and their five children: three boys (Bobby, Jeremiah, Sammy) and two girls (Sarah, A'keiba), along with his nephew (Jamaris) and cousin (Marv).[209][210][211]

Hammer frequently posts about his life and activities on his blog "Look Look Look," as well as other social websites such as Facebook, Myspace and Twitter (being one of the earliest celebs to contribute and join).[212]

In March 2009, Ellen DeGeneres made plans for Hammer to be on her show (The Ellen DeGeneres Show) via communication with Twitter.[213][214] As a result of his popularity with the site, he has been considered a "Tweeter star".[215]

On September 28, 2010, M.C. Hammer headlined at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference for an official after-hours party.[216]

M.C. Hammer returned to Oprah Winfrey's show in February 2011 to discuss his tech-media-mogul status, as well as his creation, demonstration and consulting of social applications/sites/media (such as having an involvement with the Internet since 1994, YouTube and Twitter), and devices such as iPad and ZAGGmate.[217][218][219] He also explained again how employing/helping so many people in the past never really caused him to be broke in terms of the average person, as the media made it seem, nor would he have changed any experiences that has led him to where he is today. During this "Whatever Happened to M.C. Hammer" episode, he discussed his current home, family and work life as well.[220][221][148][222]

Christian beliefs and pastoral ministry

In 1984, Burrell began attending Bible studies, joined a street ministry, and formed a gospel rap group known as the Holy Ghost Boys featuring Jon Gibson, another musician interested in Contemporary Christian music.[43] In 1986, Burrell, along with Tramaine Hawkins, performed with Jon's band doing several concerts in various halls such as the Beverly Theatre in Beverly Hills and recording several rap songs.[223] They collaborated on Gibson's 1988 album (Change of Heart) for a gospel-charged rap "This Wall" prior to M.C. Hammer's mainstream success.[40][45] This was Contemporary Christian Music's first rap hit ever by anyone, in particular by a Caucasian (Gibson) and/or a duo.[38] Burrell also produced "Son of the King" at that time, releasing it on his debut album.

Raised Pentecostal, Hammer strayed from his faith during his success, before returning to ministry. His awareness of this could be found in a movie he made called Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em: The Movie (1990), in which he also plays the preacher character named "Reverend Pressure".[70][74][184] Nonetheless, as a tribute to his faith, Hammer vowed to dedicate at least one song on each album to God.

Hammer later reaffirmed his beliefs in October 1997,[224] and starred in the ministry television show M.C. Hammer and Friends on the Trinity Broadcasting Network as well as appearing on Praise the Lord programs where he went public about his devotion to ministry as an ordained minister.[225][226][227] Hammer officiated at the celebrity weddings of actor Corey Feldman and Susie Sprague on October 30, 2002[228][229] (as seen on VH1's The Surreal Life), and also at Mötley Crüe's Vince Neil and Lia Gerardini's wedding in January 2005.[230]

During an interview on TBN (between 1997–1998), Hammer claimed he adopted the "M.C." back into his name which now stood for 'Man of Christ'.[231][232] Hammer continued to preach while still making music, running a social media business and television show, and devotes time to prison and youth ministries.[184]

He has also recently joined Jaeson Ma in his crusade in Asia.[?]

Legacy and pop culture fame

Widely considered the first "mainstream" rapper, even when it wasn't "cool" to be, Hammer continues to entertain while sharing his legacy with other rappers - as cited on BET's website.[233] Hammer became a fixture of the television airwaves and the big screen, with his music being used in many popular shows, movies and commercials still to this day. He also established a children's foundation that first started in his own community.[27]

Hammer has also influenced the music industry as well as pop culture catch phrases and slang.[234] Digital Underground's rap "The Humpty Dance" included the lyrics "People say ya look like M.C. Hammer on crack, Humpty!", boasting about Hammer's showmanship versus Humpty Hump (Shock G)'s inability to match it in dance. Additionally, his sampling of large portions of well-know pop oldies (as opposed to short James Brown or George Clinton funk riffs) has become increasingly popular among mainstream rappers, particularly Diddy's Bad Boy Records stable. At the time, it was frowned upon.[27]

Some critics complained of a lack of originality in Hammer's early productions. Entertainment Weekly described "U Can't Touch This" as 'shamelessly copying its propulsive riff from Rick James ("Super Freak"). But Hammer set the pattern; musically, fashionably and financially, for practices that became common in hip-hop music later in the 1990s in the hands of such platinum-selling performers as Puff Daddy and Will Smith.[27] Hammer admits, "When I look at Puffy with a choir, I say, 'Sure that's a take-off of what I do."[48]

Hammer's clothing-lines, one later called J Slick,[48][49] and flashy wardrobes also led to other performers being more conscientious about video outfits, "shiny suits" and baggie pants. During his early career (80s and early 90s), Hammer would tour, perform and record with his hype man 2 Bigg MC or Too Big (releasing a song in which he claimed "He's the King of the Hype").[235][236][237] It's interesting to note that this duo introduced the "shiny suit" to mainstream America, as seen in videos such as "(Hammer Hammer) They Put Me In A Mix", in which Hammer also claimed Too Big was the "King of Hype", who was in an unspoken competition with Flavor Flav (hype man for Public Enemy) during the height of their careers.[238][239]

During a 1991 episode of Rockline on MTV (with host Martha Quinn), in response to a caller's question, Hammer stated in 10 years he sees himself continuing to make "original material to establish longevity", "energetic... message-oriented songs for a long time to come" and "staying in good shape... working as long as God blesses [him] to be here".[240]

Hammer also began the trend of rap artists being accepted as mainstream pitchmen. Prior to Hammer, it was virtually unheard of for a hip-hop artist to be seen in a major commercial spot. Hammer appeared in major marketing campaigns for companies such as Pepsi, KFC, Toshiba and Taco Bell to the point that he was criticized as a "sell-out".[241][242] Hammer also did commercials for British Knights during the height of his career. The shoe company signed him to a $138 million (US) deal.[243][244] Today, many rappers appear in various major commercials and market their own clothing lines. Ironically, three of Hammer's biggest detractors (LL Cool J, Run-D.M.C. and Ice Cube), would also appear in ads later.

Even in 2008, vandals continued to invoke Hammer's catchphrase.

In 1994, British TV presenter Mark Lamarr interrupted Hammer repeatedly with Hammer's catch phrase ("Stop! Hammer Time!") in an interview filmed for The Word, which he took in good humour. He claimed Hammer was a "living legend". It was also within this interview that Hammer explained the truth about his relationship with "gangsta rap" and that he was merely changing with the times, not holding onto his old image nor becoming a "hardcore gangsta".[245] This change had much to do with his failure due to the ignorance, jealousy and sabotage by the media, public and so-called fans.[22][246]

After his rapid fall from commercial fame, M.C. Hammer spent most of the latter half of the 1990s as a punch line in the music business.[?] In 2000, Nelly, in his breakthrough hit "Country Grammar (Hot Shit)", announced his intention to "blow 30 mill[ion] like I'm Hammer."[247] According to VH1, "Hammer was on the money. Hit singles and videos like "U Can't Touch This" and "Too Legit To Quit" created a template of lavish performance values that many rap artists still follow today."

In 2003, Beam and Cyrus did a remix of "U Can't Touch This" featuring M.C. Hammer.[248][249]

In 2006, M.C. Hammer's music catalog (approximately 40,000 songs) was sold to the music company Evergreen for nearly $3 million. Evergreen explained that the collection was "some of the best-selling and most popular rap songs of all time." Speaking for Evergreen, David K. Schulhof stated the songs "will emerge as a perfect fit for licensing in movies, television shows, and corporate advertising."[250]

The Simpsons have made numerous references to the artist throughout its run. In season 11, episode 22, Behind the Laughter, Homer buys M.C. Hammer's mansion. The gates to the mansion are decorated with golden letters spelling the word "hammertime," which Homer bashes with a hammer to spell out "Homertime". In "Treehouse of Horror" IX, Homer tries to kill Bart with a sledgehammer, while making a reference to M.C. Hammer, "It's hammertime dude"!

In an episode of Family Guy, Peter Griffin visits the U.S. as a diplomat from his newly founded country of "Petoria". Exploiting his diplomatic immunity status by committing crimes such as vandalism and littering, Peter boastfully announces that he cannot be arrested by going into a musical montage featuring a song called "Can't Touch Me", a parody of M.C. Hammer's song, "U Can't Touch This".

In an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy called Goodbling and the Hip-Hop-Opotamus Irwin wears clothing similar to that of M.C. Hammer and dances to a variation of "U Can't Touch This". This track proved to be his most successfully used in many television shows and movies throughout his career.

Hammer continues to give media interviews, such as being a guest on Chelsea Lately (June 16, 2009), where he discussed his relationship with Vanilla Ice, his stint on The Surreal Life, his latest show, his family, his mansion, him being in shape, his current financial status and other "colorful topics" (subliminal jokes) regarding his baggy pants.[251][252][253]

On the Disney Channel sketch comedy So Random, Hammer was parodied as M.C. Grammer who grammatically corrects rappers in a rap battle.

In 2011, Hammer performed at the Gathering of the Juggalos; he was well received by the audience.[254]

Influences and related artists

M.C. Hammer's impact in rap and entertainment has influenced and been influenced by such artists as: Kool Moe Dee, Big Daddy Kane, James Brown, Prince, Michael Jackson, Kurtis Blow, Earth, Wind & Fire, Rick James, Doug E. Fresh (who joined Hammer's Bust It Records label in 1992 and issued the album Doin' What I Gotta Do with the track "Bustin' Out (On Funk)" sampling the Rick James single "Bustin' Out") & The Get Fresh Crew (Barry Bee and Chill Will), Run-D.M.C. and Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five.

Hammer was followed by related musicians: Will Smith, dc Talk, BB Jay, Diddy (aka "Puffy" or "Puff Daddy"), Young MC, B Angie B, M.C. Brains, MC Breed, Marky Mark and the Funky Bunch, C+C Music Factory, Mystikal, Bell Biv DeVoe, Kris Kross, Ho Frat Ho[255][256] and Oaktown's 357.[257]

Among others, some similar acts to Hammer are: Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock, Sir Mix-a-Lot, Digital Underground, Gerardo, Heavy D & the Boyz, Jibri Wise One, Kid 'n Play, MC Lyte, Salt-n-Pepa, Tone Lōc, Whodini, The U-Krew, P.M. Dawn, Candyman, M-Doc, Triple M, Bobby Brown, Biz Markie, DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Father MC, Marley Marl, and Wreckx-n-Effect.[258]

Hammer with Chamillionaire and Mistah F.A.B. at TechCrunch on July 24, 2008.

Award recipient, appearances and recognitions

M.C. Hammer has sold more than 50 million records worldwide,[7] demonstrating hip-hop's potential for mass market success.[8][9][10][11][13][259] He has won three Grammy Awards (one with Rick James and Alonzo Miller) for Best Rhythm and Blues Song (1990), Best Rap Solo (1990) and Best Music Video: Long Form (1990) taken from Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em: The Movie. He also received eight American Music Awards, a People's Choice Award, an NAACP Image Awards and the Billboard Diamond Award (the first for a hip hop artist).[17][17][18][19][20][260]

The International Album of the Year validated Hammer's talent as a world-class entertainer.[72] Additionally, Hammer was also honored with a Soul Train Music Award (Sammy Davis, Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year) in 1991.

Hammer appeared on gospel music's Stellar Awards show in 1997 and spoke of his renewed commitment to God. In the same interview, Hammer promised to unveil the "second leg" of his career.[27]

In the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, Hammer made a surprise appearance in the middle of the show with best friend Jermaine Jackson.[261]

On June 12, 2008, Hammer gave his support to Warren Beatty by attending the 36th AFI Life Achievement Awards.[262]

In August 2008, at the World Hip Hop Dance Championships, Hammer won a Living Legends of Hip Hop Award from Hip Hop International [7] in Las Vegas.[164][263]

Hammer, Rick Sanchez and Shaquille O'Neal celebrated the Best of Twitter in Brooklyn at the Shorty Awards on February 11, 2009, which honored the top short-form content creators on Twitter.[264] [8]

Hammer attended the 2009 Soul Train Music Awards which aired on BET November 29, 2009.[265] He has also been a presenter/performer at Soul Train's Music Awards several times, including The 5th Annual Soul Train Music Awards (1991), The 9th Annual Soul Train Music Awards (1995) and Soul Train's 25th Anniversary (1995).[266]

On October 2 (aired October 12), Hammer opened the 2010 BET Hip Hop Awards performing "2 Legit 2 Quit" in Atlanta along with Rick Ross, Diddy and DJ Khaled (performing "MC Hammer" from the Teflon Don album).[233][267][268][269]

In September 2009, Hammer made the "accomplishment appearance" in Zombie Apocalypse for the downloadable Smash TV/Left 4 Dead hybrid for the Xbox 360.[270]

With nearly 2 million Twitter followers, his contribution to social media and as a co-founder of his own Internet businesses (such as DanceJam), Hammer has been announced as the recipient of the first Gravity Summit Social Media Marketer of the Year Award. The award will be presented to him at the 3rd Annual Gravity Summit on February 22, 2011 at the UCLA Covel Commons.[271][272]

Hammer's chronological summary of recognitions are as follows (according to sources provided within this and other supporting articles)[9]:

  • September 1989: The video for "Turn This Mutha Out" was nominated for a MTV Video Music Award for Best Rap Video.
  • January 1990: Won two American Music Awards for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist and Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album (Let's Get It Started) and was nominated for Favorite Soul/R&B Album (Let's Get It Started).
  • April 1990: Hit the Top 40 with "U Can't Touch This" from the LP Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em.
  • May 1990: Hit the Top 10 with "U Can't Touch This".
  • July 1990: Hit the Top 40 with "Have You Seen Her".
  • August 1990: Hit the Top 10 with "Have You Seen Her".
  • September 1990: The video for "U Can't Touch This" won a MTV Video Music Award for Best Rap Video and Best Dance Video and was nominated for Best Male Video, Best Editing, and Best Choreography.
  • October 1990: Hit the Top 40 and Top 10 with "Pray".
  • November 1990: Hit #1 for a week with "Pray".
  • Hammer was a 1990 Top Singles Artist of the Year, a 1990 Billboard Hot Single Artist of the Year and was the 1990 Billboard Music Award Artist of the Decade. Another milestone was accomplished for Hammer when his album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em spent 21 weeks at #1, according to Billboard 200, eventually resulting in diamond certification.
  • January 1991: Hit the Top 40 with "Here Comes The Hammer". Won five American Music Awards for Favorite Soul/R&B Male Artist, Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist, Favorite Soul/R&B Single ("U Can't Touch This"), Favorite Soul/R&B Album and Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Album (Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em), and was nominated for Favorite Pop/Rock Male Artist and Favorite Pop/Rock Album (Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em).
  • February 1991: Won three Grammy Awards including Best Rap Solo Performance and Best R&B Song ("U Can't Touch This") and Best Music Video: Long Form (Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em: The Movie), and was nominated for Album of the Year (Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em) and Record of the Year ("U Can't Touch This").
  • September 1991: The video for "Pray" was nominated for a MTV Video Music Award for Best Choreography and "Here Comes The Hammer" was nominated for Best Special Effects.
  • November 1991: Hit the Top 40 with "2 Legit 2 Quit".
  • December 1991: Hit the Top 10 with "2 Legit 2 Quit". Hit the Top 40 with "Addams Groove".
  • According to ARC Weekly, Hammer ranked the #43 Singles Artist of 1991.[273] He also received a Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Original Song ("Addams Groove") in 1991.
  • January 1992: Won an American Music Award for Favorite Rap/Hip-Hop Artist. Hit the Top 10 with "Addams Groove."
  • February 1992: Nominated for another Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance ("Here Comes The Hammer").
  • September 1992: Nominated for two MTV Video Music Awards including Best Video from a Film ("Addams Groove") and Best Choreography ("2 Legit 2 Quit").
  • Hammer was a 1992 Billboard Hot Single Artist of the Year, and ranked the #34 Singles Artist of 1992 according to ARC Weekly.[274]
  • January 1993: Nominated for two Grammy Awards for Best Rap Solo Performance ("Hammer") and Best Music Video: Long Form (Hammerin' Home).
  • In 1994, Hammer ranked the #84 Singles Artist of the Year according to ARC Weekly.[275]
  • March 1994: Hit the Top 40 with "It's All Good".
  • April 1994: Hit the Top 40 with "Pumps and a Bump".
  • September 1994: Nominated for a MTV Video Music Award for Best Choreography ("Pumps And A Bump").
  • In 1999, MTV's "100 Greatest Videos Ever Made" included Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" at #71.
  • In October 2000, VH1's "100 Greatest Dance Songs" included Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" at #88.
  • In May 2001, VH1's "100 Greatest Videos" included Hammer's "U Can't Touch This" at #59.
  • In April 2003, VH1's "50 Greatest Hip Hop Artists" included MC Hammer at #44.
  • In 2004, Hammer was ranked #167 on the Top Pop Artists of the Past 25 Years chart.
  • In August 2005, the single "U Can't Touch This" was certified gold.
  • In April 2007, BET ranked Hammer as the #7 "Best Dancer Of All Time".
  • In December 2007, VH1's "100 Greatest Songs of the 90s" included "U Can't Touch This" at #16.
  • In October 2008, Vibe's "The Best Rapper Ever Tournament" declared Hammer the 17th favorite of all-time during the first round.


Studio albums


Since early 2009, MC Hammer has been working on a search engine called Wiredoo.[276] In October 2011, he held a session at Web 2.0 Summit explaining the technology of Wiredoo, which is currently in closed beta-phase.


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  217. ^ iPad 2 Keyboard Case - iPad 2 Cover & Wireless Bluetooth Keyboard | Logitech Keyboard Case By ZAGG for iPad 2
  218. ^ MC Hammer – ZAGGmate by ZAGG Revealed on Oprah
  219. ^ ZAGGmate Appears on The Oprah Winfrey Show | Business Wire
  220. ^ ZAGGmate Appears on The Oprah Winfrey Show | EON: Enhanced Online News
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  224. ^ "Rap Artist MC Hammer Returns to Faith in God". 
  225. ^ "MC Hammer on Praise". 
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  227. ^ "Address book: M". 
  228. ^ "Corey Feldman Wed by MC Hammer". November 27, 2002. 
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  230. ^ "McHammer Marries Vince Neil". January 11, 2005. [dead link]
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  251. ^ "MC Hammer Tells Chelsea He Helped Launch Vanilla Ice Career's". Hollyhoodhdtv.Com. 2009-06-17. Retrieved 2010-03-31. 
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  253. ^ "Chelsea Lately - Starring Chelsea Handler". E! Online. 2010-03-26. Retrieved 2010-03-31. 
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  276. ^ MC Hammer launched Wiredoo, Netzwelt, last access on October 22nd, 2011 (german)

External links

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