It's Hammer Time

We touch M.C. Hammer in this week's road to the 53rd GRAMMY Awards edition of Forgotten Videos
  • M.C. Hammer in "U Can't Touch This"
January 13, 2011 -- 10:34 am PST
GRAMMY.com

Welcome to Forgotten Videos, the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards edition, showcasing past GRAMMY winners. For some, these videos are forgotten, for others just filed away, and for others still, a totally brand-new discovery. Whichever category you fall into, each week until the GRAMMY Awards on Feb. 13, we'll feature a video from a GRAMMY-winning artist that's possibly been collecting dust when what it really deserves is a fresh look. Or, just for old times' sake. We just want to take you on a little trip down memory lane. Yep, you'll remember when hair was really that big, when drums were that up front in the mix, when video was young(er) and so were you.


M.C. Hammer
"U Can't Touch This"
1990

The self-proclaimed "super dope homeboy from the Oaktown," M.C. Hammer helped bring super dope rap to the masses, along with a closet of flamboyant threads, def rhymes and dance moves that…well, you couldn't touch. Hammer attained sales that were hard to touch too. Released in 1990, Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em is tied with Notorious B.I.G.'s Life After Death as the best-selling rap album of all time with sales of more than 10 million copies, according to the RIAA.

It was quite a road to superstardom for Hammer, who was born Stanley Kirk Burrell in Oakland, Calif. As a teenager, he was hired by Oakland Athletics owner Charles O. Finley as a clubhouse assistant/batboy, and even entertained fans during games with his dance moves. (Little Stanley earned the nickname "Hammer" for his resemblance to Hall of Fame slugger "Hammerin'" Hank Aaron.) After a stint in the Navy, Hammer drew on his love of funk and soul music and tried his hand as a rapper, becoming M.C. Hammer. Following Feel The Power, an independent released album in 1987, he caught the attention of Capitol Records, and his major label debut, Let's Get It Started, was released in 1988.

Hammer mania ensued two years later with Please Hammer…, which rocketed to No. 1 on the Billboard 200 on the strength of the lead single "U Can't Touch This." Borrowing heavily from Rick James' super-funky "Super Freak," the song was a bona fide smash at both radio and MTV, peaking at No. 8 on the Billboard Hot 100.

As for the video, Hammer is joined by his posse of Bay Area homies and breaks it down three times in total, all the while sporting gold-rimmed glasses, generous bling, a mini-ponytail and multiple pairs of parachute pants. The rhymes? School was most certainly in session: "Fresh new kicks and pants/You gotta like that now you know you wanna dance/So move out of your seat/And get a fly girl and catch this beat."

Soon after, Hammer reached commercial status, literally, landing spots with Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pepsi, while also scoring a line of dolls and a Saturday morning cartoon, aptly titled "Hammerman." Hammer made GRAMMY history as well, winning the first award in the newly established Best Rap Solo Performance category in 1990. The song also took Best Rhythm & Blues Song honors. (Given his credit as a co-writer, James also received the award for the latter category, the lone GRAMMY win of his career.)

Following three more albums, Hammer fell on leaner times and filed for bankruptcy in 1996. He subsequently turned to the church to uplift his spirits and became a preacher, starring in his own ministry TV show, "Hammer & Friends" on Trinity Broadcasting Network. These days, if you're looking for updates on all things Hammer, you can follow him on Twitter. As for music, his most recent album, Active Duty, was released in 2001. Is Hammer done? We doubt it. After all, he's "Too Legit To Quit." 
 



Do you agree with us and think Hammer should start a fashion line? Got a Forgotten Video recommendation? Leave us a comment. And don't forget to tune in to the 53rd GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Feb. 13 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

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