MC Hammer

MC Hammer

Rapper MC Hammer was born Stanley Burrell in Oakland, California on March 30, 1962.   Growing up, Burrell worked as a batboy for the Oakland A’s baseball team and would sometimes dance on the field to entertain the crowd.  After a stint in the Navy, he started record label Bustin’ Records thanks to some financial backing from several A’s players, and released a few singles that became popular in the Oakland area.

His debut album, Feel My Power, was released in 1987 and scored him a major label deal with Capitol Records. A re-tooled version of his debut was released as Let’s Get It Started in 1988 and spawned some hit singles, but it was 1990’s Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em that rocketed Burrell to superstardom and catapulted rap farther into the mainstream than it had ever been before.  The album featured smash hit “U Can’t Touch This,” (which sampled Rick James’ “Super Freak”), and was accompanied by a music video showcasing Hammer’s signature dance moves and personal style, making the “Hammer dance” somewhat of a craze, and “Hammer pants,” a fashion trend.

Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em spawned two other hits top ten hits in “Have You Seen Her” and “Pray,” and topped the Billboard Hot 100 chart for 21 weeks. The album went on to become the best seller of 1990 and one of the best selling rap albums of all time. It was the first rap album ever nominated for an Album of the Year Grammy, with “U Can’t Touch This” the first rap song nominated for Record of the Year.  Although those statues went to other artists, Hammer took home a total of 3 Grammys, including the awards for Best R&B Song and Best Rap Solo Performance.

In 1991, Burrell dropped the “MC” from his name and released Too Legit To Quit as Hammer.  The title single was a hit.  Another hit followed later that same year with “Addam’s Groove,” from the soundtrack of The Addams Family film.  1994’s The Funky Headhunter included single “Pumps and a Bump.”  Inside Out followed in 1995, but Hammer’s popularity had faded and he was dropped from his label in 1996.  Burrell released the military-themed album Active Duty on his own WorldHit label in 2001.

In 2012, Hammer teamed up with Korean sensation Psy to release a mashup of “2 Legit 2 Quit” and “Gangnam Style.”  He then teamed up with fellow Bay Area rappers Mistah F.A.B., Gigs 510, Ace Kayo, and Black Dreez to form Oakland Fight Club and released “Raider Nation (Oakland Raiders Anthem)” in 2013.

In 2017, Fifth Harmony sampled Hammer’s “Pumps and a Bump” for their hit single “He Like That.”

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