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MC Hammer Biography

MC Hammer Biography

His debut album Feel My Power was produced between 1986 and 1987 to be released independently in 1987. It was produced by VEH (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, Cool LL, or DJ Run"—after which the track began to gain popularity in clubs. Hammer received several offers from major record labels after the successful release of the independent album.

Hammer initially refused to sign a contract with Capitol Records, but after a substantial signing bonus was added to his contract, he did. His debut album was then re-released as Let's Get It Started. A new video was shot for "Let's Get it Started," and another video was produced in fall of 1988 called "Pump It Up" (a new track added to Let's Get It Started). The "Pump It Up" video was added to the roster of "new wave" hip-hop videos that premiered or re-aired on the premiere season of Yo! MTV Raps. It depicted hip-hop legends Run-DMC getting disrespected by Hammer. The album eventually went triple-platinum (more than 3 million units sold). "Turn This Mutha Out" (the album's biggest hit), "Feel My Power", and "They Put Me in the Mix" saw heavy rotation on R&B/Hip-Hop radio stations throughout late 1988 into 1989.

His second album, 1990s Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em, included the smash single "U Can't Touch This", which sampled Rick James' 1981 hit "Super Freak". Interestingly, despite heavy airplay, "U Can't Touch This" stopped at #8 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart due to the fact that it was released only as a twelve-inch single. Follow-up hits included "Have You Seen Her" (cover of the Chi-Lites); and "Pray", which had a beat sampled from Prince's "When Doves Cry." The album went on to become the first hip-hop album to reach diamond status, selling more than 10 million units.[3] 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 in 1991. At the same time, he also appeared in The West Coast Rap All-Stars posse cut "We're All in the same Gang".

A critical backlash began brewing over the repetitive nature of his lyrics, his clean-cut image, and his perceived over-reliance on sampling others' hooks for the basis of his singles - criticisms which were are also directed toward 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 to their 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." However Ice-T came to his defense on his 1991 album OG: Original Gangster: "A special shout out to my man MC Hammer; A lot of people diss you, man, but they just jealous. Fuck 'em!" Ice-T later explained that he had nothing against people who were pop rap from the start, as Hammer had been, but only against rappers who switch from being hardcore or dirty to being pop-rap so that they can sell more records.

Despite the criticisms, MC Hammer's career continued to be highly successful. Soon, MC Hammer dolls, lunchboxes, and other merchandise was marketed. He was even given his own Saturday morning cartoon, Hammerman.

After dropping the "MC" from his stage name, Burrell released Too Legit to Quit (again, produced by Felton Pilate) in 1991. Burrell took the opportunity to answer his critics on certain songs on the album. Though the album was, by and large, no better accepted (critically) than his first, sales were strong and the title track was a hit. Another hit came soon after, with "Addams Groove" (which appeared on both The Addams Family motion picture soundtrack and the vinyl version of 2 Legit 2 Quit).

After his rapid fall from fame and subsequent bankruptcy, MC 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", announced his intention to "blow 30 million like I'm Hammer" .

However, he has also influenced the industry. Hammer's sampling of large portions of well-known pop oldies (as opposed to short James Brown or George Clinton funk riffs) has increasing popularity among mainstream rappers, particularly Diddy's Bad Boy Records stable. Other examples include Eminem's Like Toy Soldiers which samples nearly the entire chorus from Martika's similarly-named 1989 hit.

Hammer's catchphrase, "Stop! Hammer time!" is considered something of an Internet phenomenon, appearing in various spoofed error messages in the Windows XP operating system. Notoriously, British TV presenter Mark Lamarr interrupted Hammer repeatedly with this phrase in an interview filmed for "The Word", much to Hammer's annoyance. The phrase also appeared as graffiti on Stop signs.

Hammer recently performed a self-parody role in a television ad for Lay's potato chips. Some kids lose their baseball over the fence of a neighbor apparently infamous for not returning lost toys, so they throw him a bag of chips to appease him. He throws back their ball, their dog, a car belonging to one kid's dad, and MC Hammer, still dressed in golden sparkle shirt and parachute pants. MC Hammer instantly breaks into the chorus of "U Can't Touch This." The kids then toss Hammer back over the fence. He also appeared in an ad for Nationwide Insurance which made fun of his sudden fall from fame and wealth. In 2004, "U Can't Touch This" was licensed by Purell for a series of commercials.

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 and Taco Bell to the point that he was criticized as a "sell-out". Today, many rappers appear in various major commercials and market their own clothing lines, such as Jay-Z, Nelly, and P. Diddy. Ironically, two of Hammer's biggest detractors, LL Cool J and Run D.M.C., appeared together in a Dr Pepper ad during Super Bowl XXXVIII. Dr. Dre appeared in a Heineken commercial in 2001, and Ice Cube, another one of Hammer's biggest detractors, filmed St. Ides malt liquor ads in the early 1990s and has since become an actor and producer. In one of the episodes of The Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy called "Goodbling and the Hip-Hop-Opotamus Irwin wears clothing similar to that of MC Hammer and dances to a variation of "U Can't Touch This".

From 1972 to 1980, Burrell served as a batboy with the Oakland Athletics under colorful team owner Charlie Finley, who lived in the Midwest and for whom Burrell was his "eyes and ears."[1] Reggie Jackson, in describing Burrell's role for Finley, took credit for the "Hammer" 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 [Hammerin'] Hank Aaron.

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."

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!"

Burrell wanted to be a professional baseball player, but he did not catch on in any professional organization. He instead joined the Navy, where he served 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. Upon his return he began performing music in clubs and started his own record label, Bust It.

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