Synopsis of Pop Music
"Yo, let me bust the funky lyrics
U can't touch this..."
Hip-hop became a dominant trend in pop music during the 1990’s, and one of the leaders of this new musical wave was MC Hammer, a musician who helped popularize hip-hop with the mass audience by combining it with a pop-friendly style and attitude. His ability to mix catchy chants with memorable samples made his songs crossover hits, while his flamboyant, colorful image made him a popular figure with music fans of all ages. As a result, he sold millions of albums and scored one of the decade’s most memorable hits with “U Can’t Touch This.”
MC Hammer was born Stanley Burrell in 1962. He grew up in Oakland and got the nickname ‘Hammer’ because of his likeness to baseball star Henry 'Hammerin’ Hank' Aaron. After stints as a baseball player and a serviceman in the U.S. Navy, Hammer turned to music in the mid-1980’s. Dubbing himself ‘MC Hammer,’ he developed excellent skills as a rapper and dancer. He also independently recorded a debut album, Feel My Power. It won him a record contract and was reissued with some new songs as Let’s Get It Started. The album sold in the millions, but his biggest success was yet to come.
Hammer scored his career-defining success with his second album, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em. It blended hip-hop elements with well-chosen samples and covers to create a rap album that was pop-friendly enough for the mainstream audience. The disc soon shot to #1 on the pop album chart and also boasted a phenomenal hit in “U Can’t Touch This,” an infectiously catchy rap built on samples from the Rick James classic “Super Freak.” This song became a Top-10 hit, and its video, which featured Hammer dancing in his trademark baggy pants, became the most-played video on MTV in 1990.
Hammer scored hits throughout 1990 with a cover of the Chi-Lites classic “Have You Seen Her?” and “Pray,” which sampled Prince’s “When Doves Cry.” Meanwhile, Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em topped the album charts for a record-setting 21 weeks. Hammer successfully toured for much of the year with support acts like En Vogue and Vanilla Ice. When he wasn’t performing, he did commercials for Pepsi-Cola, Kentucky Fried Chicken and British Knights. By the end of the year, he was such a phenomenon that an entire NBC News Special was devoted to his life story.
In 1991, MC Hammer performed an original song, “Here Comes The Hammer,” for the soundtrack of Rocky V. His previous hit “U Can’t Touch This” won the honors for Best R&B Song and Best Rap Solo Performance at the Grammy Awards. He made a guest appearance on the TV sitcom Amen and embarked on a world tour that took him to Europe, Australia and Japan. His spectacle-styled concert show, featuring tons of lights and scores of dancers, was a sell-out at every stop. By the end of the year, Hammer even had his own Saturday Morning cartoon series called Hammerman.
Hammer’s third album, Too Legit To Quit, was released at the end of 1991. By 1992, it was a Top-5 hit. MC Hammer also scored a hit single with “Addams Groove,” the theme song from the film The Addams Family. He also traveled the world with his Too Legit To Quit tour and started an entertainment/sports management company called Roll-Wit-It Entertainment. In 1994, MC Hammer dropped the MC part of his named and tackled a more gangsta-rap style of music with The Funky Headhunter. He scored a Top-30 hit from this album with “Pumps And A Bump.”
By the next year, Hammer returned to being known as an MC and was inducted into the Soul Train Hall Of Fame. He continued to record throughout the decade, eventually forming his own Oaktown Records label. He is currently the host of a successful San Francisco radio show called “MC Hammer’s World Hit Gospel Show” and continues to perform and record. Meanwhile, his classic album Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em remains popular and has recently topped the ten-million peak in sales, thus proving that Hammer’s pop-friendly rap style still has plenty of fans.
Artist Release History1987 - l My Power
1988 - Let's Get It Started
1990 - Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'em
1990 - Too Legit to Quit
1994 - The Funky Headhunter
1995 - Inside Out
1996 - Greatest Hits
1998 - Family Affair
Pop Sub Categoriespop