MC Hammer Biography: Life and Career of the Rapper

Born March 30th, 1962 in Oakland, California, MC Hammer got into music after an attempt to pursue a career in baseball failed. Thanks to his own self-promotion and his unique dancing skills, he was noticed by the big leagues. He shot to stardom with the 1990 album "Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em" containing the hit "U Can't Touch This." His popularity continued with next record "Too Legit to Quit." However, even though Hammer continued to make music thereafter, he would never reach the fame he had in the early 1990s. In this WatchMojo.com video, we take a look at the life and career of MC Hammer.
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This rapper is too legit to quit. Welcome to Watchmojo.com and today we’re taking a look at the life and career of MC Hammer.

Growing Up


Stanley Kirk Burrell was born March 30th, 1962 in Oakland, California. Life as a young child was tough, as he grew up in a poor family and resided in a cramped apartment with several siblings. He spent much of his time hanging around outside the Oakland Athletics’ stadium, and was eventually hired to work for the team at age 11.

Interest in Baseball


During this time, player Reggie Jackson noticed his resemblance to the legendary Hank Aaron, and so he nicknamed Burrell “Hammer.” He was later dubbed MC after he became interested in hip hop and started performing at clubs. Following his high school graduation and an unsuccessful tryout for the big leagues with the San Francisco Giants, Burrell spent time in the Navy.

Getting Into Music


In the 1980s, Burrell formed the Christian rap group Holy Ghost Boys and started going by the moniker MC Hammer. Using borrowed money, he got into the music industry by launching an independent record label. This enabled him to independently release his debut, 1987’s Feel My Power, on Bustin’ Records. Thanks to MC Hammer’s relentless street marketing, the album managed to sell over sixty thousand copies without major label backing.

Record Deal and Debut


His big break came in 1988: that was the year his showmanship and dancing abilities landed him a deal with Capitol Records. His first release with the label was Let’s Get It Started, which was a revamped edition of his first album, along with extra songs. The top 30 effort sold over two million copies on the strength of singles like “Pump It Up” and “Turn This Mutha Out.”

“U Can’t Touch This”


MC Hammer then changed up his style with 1990’s Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ’Em. The album stayed at number one on the pop charts for over 21 weeks, and eventually became the first hip hop record to achieve diamond status. Most of its success was thanks to Hammer’s most notable track: the Rick James-inspired “U Can’t Touch This.” The album also contained his highest charting single, “Pray,” which went to number two.

Popularity


Despite being denounced for his lyrics and overuse of sampling by critics and fans, MC Hammer’s success continued. He acted in the movie "Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em," toured the world, lent his name and image to merchandise, and appeared in his own Saturday morning cartoon.

“Too Legit to Quit”


The rapper then ditched the MC from his name and dropped Too Legit to Quit. Though it reached the Billboard top 5, the 1991 disc did not match his previous record’s sales. The album’s title cut was its most successful single and was accompanied by a pricy music video that spawned popular hand signs.

Later Musical Career


Unfortunately, Hammer’s career was never quite the same after this release. He tried unsuccessfully to fit in with the emerging gangsta rap crowd with the more aggressive album The Funky Headhunter in 1994. Then with 1995’s Inside Out, Hammer took back the MC in his stage name but album sales were still slow. Despite experimenting with genres like pop and gospel, the rapper continued to find only modest sales with his later albums: Too Tight, Family Affair, Active Duty, Full Blast, Look Look Look and DanceJamTheMusic.

Personal Life and Troubles


The rapper’s personal life also suffered as years went by. His extravagant lifestyle left him bankrupt and on more than one occasion he lost money due to copyright infringement. However, by the late-1990s, MC Hammer re-focused on religion and announced he had become an ordained minister.

Other Interests and Pursuits


In addition to music, MC Hammer appeared on television, including the reality show “Hammertime.” When it came to business, he dabbled in fashion, sports management, and internet projects. He continued to release the occasional track and even had a short-lived beef with rapper Jay-Z.

Legacy


After selling over 50 million albums and winning three Grammy awards, MC Hammer will always be remembered as a great musical entertainer. Along with his trademark baggy pants and flashy style, which were synonymous with ‘90s over-indulgence, the rapper pioneered many dance moves and is considered the forefather of elaborate stage shows. Simply put, MC Hammer is one man you can’t touch.
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