Stanley Kirk Burrell (born March 30, 1962), best known by his stage names MC Hammer, Hammer and Hammertime, is a rapper, entertainer and dancer most popular during the late 1980s until the mid-1990s. Remembered for a rapid rise to fame before losing a majority of his fortune, he is also known for his hit records, flamboyant dance techniques and trademark Hammer pants.
Hammer became a preacher during the late 1990s, was a television show host and dance judge, is a record label CEO, and as of 2008 works as a co-creator of a dance website called DanceJam, while still performing occasionally at concerts and other social media, ministry and outreach functions. In addition, he is executive producer of his own reality show called Hammertime which airs Sundays at 10 PM EST on the A&E Network.
Hammer is considered a forefather and innovator of pop rap, and is the first hip hop artist to achieve diamond status for an album. However, due to his mainstream appeal since the late 1980s, Hammer would later be considered a sell-out rapper by many due in part to over-exposure and as a result of him changing to a grittier image as the landscape of rap changed. Nonetheless, BET ranked Hammer as the #7 "Best Dancer Of All Time". While his talent may be denied, disputed and debated, "Vibe Presents The Best Rapper Ever Tournament" declared Hammer the 17th most favorite of all-time during the first round.
While giving numerous interviews on radio stations and television channels through the years, Hammer is still questioned about his 1996 bankruptcy. During one such interview by WKQI-FM (95.5) for the promotion of his "Pioneers Of Hip Hop 2009" gig at the Fox Theatre (Detroit, Michigan) which featured 2 Live Crew, Naughty by Nature, Too Short, Biz Markie & Roxanne Shant?©, Hammer was subject to inquiries about his finances by the "Mojo in the Morning" host which led to a response on Twitter that Mojo was a 'coward', with Hammer threatening to cancel commercials surrounding his show.
Originally from Oakland, Hammer currently resides in Tracy, California with his wife (Stephanie) of 23 years, his nephew (Jamaris) and Stephanie and Hammer's five children: three boys (Bobby, Jeremiah, Sammy) and two girls (Sarah, A'keiba - currently in college). Throughout his career, MC Hammer has managed his own recording business, Oaktown Records.
Burrell was born in Oakland, California. He grew up with his mother, a secretary, and eight siblings in a cramped apartment in a very rough section of East Oakland. If the baseball enthusiast wasn't dancing in the Oakland Coliseum parking lot with a beatbox blaring, Burrell was selling stray baseballs. It was there that then Oakland A's team owner Charles O. Finley spotted the 11-year-old Burrell doing splits and was impressed enough to invite him to a game, employ him as an office assistant and name him honorary Vice President.
From 1980 to 1981, Burrell served as a batboy with the team under the colorful Charlie Finley, who lived in the Midwest and for whom Burrell was his "eyes and ears." 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 Charlie Finley, the top man there, was a 13-year old kid. I nicknamed him "Hammer," because he looked like 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!"
Other reports claim that Burrell also acquired the nickname "Little Hammer" from Milwaukee Brewers second baseman Pedro Garcia because of his resemblance to Henry (Hammerin' Hank) Aaron. Side-by-side they looked like father and son. MC Hammer could be found outside the baseball stadium dancing in an effort to earn enough money to attend games. Finley saw his eagerness and entrepreneurial techniques which made him suitable for such a position.
The former high school second baseman dreamed of being a professional baseball player. But he gave up on that dream when he failed to make the final cut at a San Francisco Giants tryout or with any other organization. Hammer pondered a career of quick cash in the drug trade. Instead, he chose the disciplined life of the Navy and enlisted for three years, serving 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.
Through that experience, he acquired the nickname M.C. for being "Master of Ceremonies" which he used when he began performing at various clubs while on the road as an Oakland A's bat boy. With the help from several of his athlete friends, Hammer then started his own record label business upon his return from the military, called Bust It.
Prior to his mainstream career and "rags-to-riches-to-rags-and-back saga", Hammer formed a Christian rap music group known as Holy Ghost Boy(s), producing songs called "Word", "B-Boy Chill" and later releasing "This Wall" (it was within the lyrics of this song that Kirk Burrell - or "K.B." - first identified himself as M.C. Hammer) with CCM's Jon Gibson (or "J.G."). This rap hit appeared on Gibson's album Change of Heart, and "Son of the King" showed up on Hammer's debut album Feel My Power (1987), as well as the updated version Let's Get It Started (1988).
With exception to later remixes of early releases, Hammer produced and recorded many rap songs that were never made public, yet are now available on the Internet. Via his record labels such as Oaktown Records and FullBlast, Hammer has introduced, signed and produced new talent including Oaktown's 3.5.7, the vocal quintet Special Generation, Analise, James Greer, One Cause One Effect, B Angie B, The Stooge Playaz, DASIT (as seen on ego trip's The (White) Rapper Show), Teabag, Common Unity, Geeman and Pleasure Ellis; both collaborating with him and producing raps of their own during his career. Some of these artists can now be found on YouTube or other video sites such as MTV.com.
Feel My Power (1987)
Main article: Feel My Power
In 1987, after a record deal went sour, Hammer borrowed $20,000 each from former Oakland A's players Mike Davis and Dwayne Murphy to start Bust It Productions. He kept the company going by selling records from his basement. Bust It spawned Bustin' Records, the independent label of which Hammer was CEO. Together, the companies had more than 100 employees. Recording singles and selling them out of the trunk of his car, he marketed himself relentlessly. Coupled with his dance abilities, Hammer's style was unique at the time.
Now using the name MC Hammer, he recorded his debut album, Feel My Power, which was produced between 1986 and 1988 to be released independently in 1987 on his Oaktown Records label (Bustin'). It was produced by Felton Pilate (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, LL Cool J, or DJ Run" ??? after which the track began to gain popularity in clubs. (He would continue to call out other East Coast rappers in future projects as well.) Hammer received several offers from major record labels (which he initially declined due to his personal success) but after the successful release of this independent album and elaborate live dance show impressed a Capitol Records executive, Hammer signed a multi-album deal soon after.
Let's Get It Started (1988)
Main article: Let's Get It Started (album)
Once signed to Capitol Records, Hammer re-issued his first record with additional tracks added. "Pump It Up", "Turn This Mutha Out", "Let's Get It Started" and "They Put Me in the Mix" were the most popular singles from this album which all charted. But not quite satisfied with this first multi-platinum success, Hammer's music underwent a metamorphosis, shifting from the standard rap format in his upcoming album. "I decided the next album would be more musical," he says. Purists chastised him for being more dancer than rapper. Sitting in a leopard-print body suit before a concert, he defended his style: "People were ready for something different from the traditional rap style. The fact that the record has reached this level indicates the genre is growing."
MC Hammer was good friends with Arsenio Hall, and a then-unknown teen named Vanilla Ice (despite public rumors) who he would later reunite with in a 2009 concert in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hammer was invited to first perform the hit song "U Can't Touch This", prior to its release, on The Arsenio Hall Show in 1989. He also performed "Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em", a song that didn't make it on his upcoming album, but did appear in the same-titled movie.
Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em (1990)
Main article: Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em
Notorious for dissing rappers in his previous recordings, Hammer appropriately titled his third album (and second major-label release) Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em, which was released January 1, 1990. It included the successful single "U Can't Touch This" which sampled Rick James' 1981 "Super Freak"). It was produced, recorded, and mixed by Felton Pilate and James Earley on a modified tour bus (while on tour) in 1989. Interestingly, despite heavy airplay and a #27 chart debut, "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. However, the album was a #1 success for 21 weeks, due primarily to this single, the first time ever for a rap recording on the pop charts.
Follow-up successes included "Have You Seen Her" (a cover of the Chi-Lites) and "Pray" (a beat sampled from Prince's "When Doves Cry" and Faith No More's "We Care a Lot"), which was his biggest hit in the US, peaking at #2. "Pray" was also a major UK success, peaking at #8. The album went on to become the first hip-hop album to earn diamond status, selling more than 18 million units to date. 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 during 1991.
The album was notable for sampling other high-profile artists and gave some of these artists a new fanbase. "Dancin' Machine" sampled The Jackson 5, "Help the Children" (also the name of an outreach foundation Hammer started) interpolates Marvin Gaye's "Mercy Mercy Me (The Ecology)," and "She's Soft and Wet" also sampled Prince's "Soft and Wet." All of these songs proved to be successful on radio and video television, with "U Can't Touch This," "Pray" (most successful), "Have You Seen Her," "Here Comes the Hammer," and "Yo!! Sweetness" (UK only) all charting. The album increased the popularity of hip-hop music. It remains the genre's all-time best-selling album.
At the same time, he also appeared in The West Coast Rap All-Stars posse cut "We're All in the Same Gang." Music videos from this album and the previous albums began to receive much airplay on MTV and VH1. A movie also accompanied the album and was produced at this same time called "Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em: The Movie" along with music videos included within the movie.
A critical backlash began over the repetitive nature of his lyrics, his clean-cut image, and his perceived over-reliance on sampling others' entire hooks for the basis of his singles???criticisms that were 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 of its 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 ," and saying, "My old gym teacher ain't supposed to rap." (LL Cool J would later compliment and commend Hammer's abilities/talents on VH-1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop, which aired in 2008). However, Ice-T came to his defense on his 1991 album O.G. Original Gangster: "A special shout out to my man MC Hammer: a lot of people dis you, man, but they just jealous." Ice-T later explained that he had nothing against people who were pop rap from the start, as Hammer had been, but only against emcees who switch from being hardcore or dirty to being pop-rap so that they can sell more records.
MC Hammer immortalized in doll form
Despite the criticisms, MC Hammer's career continued to be highly successful including tours in Asia, Europe, Australia, and Russia. Soon after, MC Hammer Mattel dolls, lunchboxes, and other merchandise were marketed. He was also given his own Saturday morning cartoon, called Hammerman, which he hosted and voiced.
Too Legit to Quit (1991)
Main article: Too Legit to Quit
After dropping the "MC" from his stage name, Burrell released Too Legit to Quit (again, produced by Felton Pilate) in 1991. Hammer 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 (over three-million copies) and the title track was a hit. The album peaked in the Top 5 of the Billboard 200. Another hit came soon after, with "Addams Groove" (which appeared on both The Addams Family motion picture soundtrack and the vinyl and cassette versions of 2 Legit 2 Quit), which reached #7 in the U.S. and #4 in the UK. His video for the song appeared after the movie. Hammer set out on tour, but the stage show had become as lavish as his lifestyle; loaded with singers, dancers, and backup musicians, the supporting concert tour was too expensive for the album's sales to finance, and it was canceled partway through. Despite the multi-platinum certification, the sales were one-third of Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em.
A video for the title song was also produced, featuring many celebrity appearances. "2 Legit 2 Quit" has been ranked as one of the most expensive videos ever made. The song proved to be successful in the U.S., peaking at the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100, at #6. The hand motions used within the song and video also became very popular.
At the end of the "Too Legit to Quit" video, after James Brown enlists Hammer to get the famous glove of Michael Jackson, a silver-white sequined glove is shown on the hand of a Michael Jackson look-a-like doing the "2 Legit 2 Quit" hand gesture. In a related story, MC Hammer appeared on The Wendy Williams Show (July 27, 2009) and talked about his hit reality show Hammertime on A&E, his marriage, his role as a dad and reason he went bankrupt. He went on to tell an amusing story about a phone call he received from "MJ", regarding the portion of the "2 Legit 2 Quit" video that included a fake Michael Jackson, giving his approval and inclusion of it. He explained how Michael had seen the video and liked it, and both expressed they were a fan of each others. Hammer and Jackson would later appear, speak and/or perform at the funeral service for James Brown in 2006.
New venture (Oaktown/Giant)
Later, Hammer parted ways with Pilate, switched record labels and signed with Giant Records, taking his Oaktown label with him.
In 1992, Hammer admitted in depositions and court documents to getting the idea for the song Here Comes The Hammer from a Christian recording artist in Dallas, Texas named Kevin Christian (formerly "Kevin" Muhammad Abdallah). Christian had filed a 16 million dollar lawsuit against Hammer for copyright infringement for his song entitled "Oh-Oh, You Got The Shing". This fact compounded with witness testimony from both Hammer's and Christian's entourages and other evidence including photos brought about a settlement with Capitol Records in 1994. The terms of the settlement remain sealed. Hammer settled with Christian the following year.
The Funky Headhunter (1994)
Main article: The Funky Headhunter
To adapt to the changing landscape of hip-hop, his next album was a more aggressive sounding album entitled The Funky Headhunter. He co-produced this record with funky rapper and producer, Stefan Adamek. While Hammer's appearance changed to keep up with the gangsta rap audience, his lyrics still remained somewhat clean with minor cursing. Yet, as with previous records, Hammer would continue to call out and disrespect other rappers on this album. As with earlier songs such as "Crime Story", the content remained somewhat the same, but the sound was different, resulting in Hammer losing favor with fans. This harder-edged, more aggressive record went gold, but failed to win him a new audience among hardcore hip-hop fans.
The accompanying video to albums's first single, "Pumps and a Bump", was banned from heavy rotation on MTV with censors claiming that the depiction of Hammer in Speedos and with what appeared to be an erection was too graphic. This led to an alternative video being filmed (with Hammer fully clothed) that was directed by Bay Area native Craig S. Brooks, who also helmed the video of rap group DRS' only hit single "Gangsta Lean".
"It's All Good" was the second single released, which would become a pop culture phrase as a result of its success. It was also the most successful song by this title. To date, this album has managed to become certified platinum.
Within this album, Hammer disses rappers such as A Tribe Called Quest (Q-Tip), Redman and Run DMC. This quite possibly led to a decrease in his popularity after this comeback record responded to his critics.
The song "Help Lord (Won't You Come)" appeared in Kingdom Come (2001 film).
Inside Out (1995)
Main article: Inside Out (MC Hammer album)
In 1995, Hammer released the album Inside Out, which critics claimed was unfocused, as it was unclear if the genre was pop or rap. The album sold poorly (peaking at 119 on the Billboard Charts) and Giant Records dropped him and Oaktown Records from their roster. However, "Going Up Yonder" and "Sultry Funk" managed to get moderate radio play (charting on station countdowns).
Due to a fickle public growing bored with his positive message in previous albums during the rise of gangsta rap, as well as excessive spending while supporting friends and family, Hammer became $13 million in debt. He would go on to explain in this album that he felt many of his so-called friends he staffed used and betrayed him and had contributed to a majority of his financial loss (best explained in the song "Keep On" from this album). He would also claim this again on The Ellen DeGeneres Show in 2009. Because of dwindling album sales and a lavish lifestyle, Hammer eventually filed for bankruptcy in April 1996.
Career with Death Row Records (1995???1996)
Main article: Death Row Records
Hammer's relationship with Suge Knight dates back to 1988. Hammer next signed with Death Row Records, then home to Snoop Dogg and his close friend, Tupac Shakur. The label did not release any of Hammer's music while he was with them. However, Burrell did record music with Shakur, most notably the song "Too Late Playa", and the album (Too Tight) he recorded leaked onto the Internet some years later. Their collaborative efforts are yet to be released. After the death of Shakur in 1996, Burrell left the record company. He later explained his concern about this circumstance in an interview on Trinity Broadcasting Network since he was in Las Vegas with Tupac the night of his death.
Return to EMI (1996???1997)
In 1996, Burrell and Oaktown signed with EMI, which saw the release of a compilation of Hammer's chart topping songs prior to The Funky Headhunter album. The album, Greatest Hits, featured 12 former hits and was released in October, only six months after his bankruptcy. Since then, several compilation album versions of his "greatest hits" have been produced.
In 1997, just prior to beginning his ministry, MC Hammer (who by that time had readopted the "MC") was the subject of an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show and the VH1 series Behind the Music (music from his previous album Inside Out was featured in this documentary). In these appearances, Burrell admitted 'that had already used up most of fortune of over $20 million, proving that money is nothing if it doesn't bring peace and if priorities are wrong'. He would go on to express a similar point in other interviews as well.
Family Affair (1998)
In 1998, MC Hammer released his first album in his new deal with EMI, titled Family Affair because it was to introduce the world to the artists he had signed to his Oaktown Records (Geeman, Teabag, and Common Unity) as they made their recording debut. This album was highly promoted on Trinity Broadcasting Network (performing a more gospel version of "Keep On" from his album Inside Out) but featured no charting singles, and sold between about 100,000-500,000 copies worldwide. However, it did showcase a song originally by 2Pac that was given to Hammer which he did as a remake on the album called "Unconditional Love". Hammer would later dance and read the lyrics to this song on the first Vh1 Hip Hop Honors in 2004.
New projects were rumored to be in the works, including an album (War Chest: Turn of the Century) and a soundtrack to the film Return to Glory: The Powerful Stirring of the Black Man, but neither appeared.
Active Duty (2001)
Main article: Active Duty (MC Hammer album)
Following the September 11, 2001 attacks, MC Hammer released his 8th studio album, Active Duty, on his own WorldHit Music Group label (the musical enterprise under his Hammertime Holdings Inc. umbrella) to pay homage to the ones lost in the terrorist attacks. The album followed that theme, and featured two singles, "No Stoppin' Us (USA)" and "Pop Yo Collar". The album, like its predecessor, failed to chart and would not sell as many copies as previous projects. Hammer did however promote it on such shows as The View and produced a video for both singles.
This patriotic album, originally planned to be titled The Autobiography Of MC Hammer, donated portions of the proceeds to 9/11 charities. Hammer shot a video for the anthem "No Stoppin' Us (USA)" in Washington, D.C., with several members of the United States Congress, who sang in the song and danced in the video. Present members of the United States House of Representatives included J. C. Watts, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Thomas M. Davis, Earl Hilliard, Alcee Hastings, Rep. Diane Watson (D-Calif.), Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.) and Jesse Jackson, Jr.
Full Blast (2003)
Main article: Full Blast
After leaving Capitol Records and EMI for the second time in his career, MC Hammer decided to move his Oaktown imprint to an independent distributor and released his ninth studio album, Full Blast, in 2003. The album would feature no charting singles and failed to certify in the RIAA. A video was produced for "Full Blast", a song that attacks Eminem and Busta Rhymes.
Look Look Look (2006)
Main article: Look Look Look
After going independent, he decided to create a digital label to release his tenth studio album, Look Look Look. The album was released in 2006 and featured production from Scott Storch. The album featured the title-track single, and would sell much better than his previous release (300,000 copies worldwide).
Between 2006 and 2007, Hammer released a military-inspired rap song with a political message to President George W. Bush about sending American troops back home from war, called "Bring Our Brothers Home". The video was filmed at the Santa Monica Pier.
"I Got It From The Town" was used in the movie but not present on The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift (soundtrack).
Since his 2006 album, Hammer continued to produce music and released several other raps that have appeared on his websites or in commercials, with another album due for launch in late 2008 (via his own record label Fullblast Playhouse). Talks of the tour and new release were expected in 2009. "I Got Gigs" is from this album and was used in an ESPN commercial and performed during Hammertime.
Lifestyle and business entrepreneur
Because of the success of the Please Hammer, Don???t Hurt 'Em album, Hammer had amassed approximately $33 million (USD).
$12 million of this total was used to have his home built in Fremont, California, 30 miles (50 km) south of where he grew up. Among the documented features this house had included:
33 seat theater with stadium seating
2 swimming pools (one indoor/one outdoor)
Tennis courts and a baseball diamond
Waterfalls, ponds, and aquariums
Mirrored Bathroom (at least $75,000 (??35,000) in mirrors throughout the house)
$2 Million of Italian marble floors and a floor-to-ceiling gray marble office with customized marble niches for awards.
Marble countertops in the kitchen (the house was heavily decorated in marble)
A stop sign with "Hammertime!" engraved in to it, in reference to the song that made him famous
Massive gold and black marble jacuzzi in the master bedroom
17 car garage
Two gold-plated "Hammertime" gates for entrance to the property
A dishwasher installed in his master bedroom for the purpose of "cleaning up after a midnight snack"
He additionally spent his fortune on:
A fleet of 17 automobiles, including a Lamborghini, a stretch limousine, a Range Rover, and a De Lorean.
1976 Refurbished "Hoopty Ride"
Investments up to $1 million in Thoroughbred racehorses.
Careless spending on high-priced items like antique golf clubs, Etruscan sculpture, and gold chains for his 4 pet rottweilers.
Extravagant parties financed by Hammer himself.
The huge entourage of over 300 people, most of whom were on his payroll, for total monthly wages of $500,000. This "posse" ended up contributing to some of his financial decline, as well as lower-selling albums that followed. He openly declared many of these people he tried to help out, were never really his true friends and were in it for the money and fame. This was mentioned not only in numerous interviews, but in his 1995 album bio as well.
Leased Boeing 727.
In 1991, MC Hammer established Oaktown Stable that would eventually have nineteen Thoroughbred racehorses. That year, his outstanding filly Lite Light won several Grade I stakes races including the prestigious Kentucky Oaks. His D. Wayne Lukas-trained colt Dance Floor won the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and the Breeders' Futurity Stakes in 1991, then the following year won the Fountain of Youth Stakes and finished 3rd in the 1992 Kentucky Derby.
Hammer had several costly videos, two in particular were Too Legit to Quit or 2 Legit 2 Quit (which many celebrities appeared in) and "Here Comes the Hammer". He has also made cameos or performed on many television shows such as Saturday Night Live, Amen (TV series) and Martin (TV series). Additionally, Hammer has been involved in movies as an actor, such as "Reggie's Prayer (1996) and Deadly Rhapsody (2001) and as a television and movie producer as well.
Despite public attacks about his financial status, after meeting at the National Association of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas, Nevada in April 2001, it was Hammer (credited as a producer) who provided the much needed funding to filmmaker Justin Lin for Better Luck Tomorrow (2002). In its first ever film acquisition, MTV Films eventually acquired Better Luck Tomorrow after it debuted at The Sundance Film Festival. The director said, "Out of desperation, I called up MC Hammer because he had read the script and liked it. Two hours later, he wired the money we needed into a bank account and saved us."
At 39, Hammer was one of the producers for the VH1 movie Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story, starring Romany Malco, which aired on December 19, 2001. The film is a biopic which chronicles the meteoric rise and precipitous fall of the rap singer. "2 Legit To Quit: The Life Story of MC Hammer" became the second highest-rated original movie in the history of VH1 and broadcasted simultaneously on BET. "The whole script came from me," says Hammer, "I sat down with a writer and gave him all the information." During this same time, with a new clothing line called "J Slick", Hammer began working on MC Hammer USA, an interactive online portal.
In 2002, Hammer signed a book contract with publishing company Simon & Schuster which called for a release the following year. However, a manuscript for an inspirational book called Enemies of the Father: Messages from the Heart on Being a Family Man, for which Hammer received advance money to write, was never submitted in 2003. This resulted in Hammer being sued by the book company over claims that he never finished the book as promised. The company's March 2009 lawsuit sought return of the $61,000 advance given to Hammer for the unwritten book about fatherhood.
In 2003, Hammer appeared on the first season of The Surreal Life, a reality show known for assembling an eclectic mix of celebrities to live together.
In the 2005 MTV Video Music Awards, Hammer made a surprise appearance in the middle of the show with best friend Jeremiah Jackson.
In February 2006, the first single off Hammer's album Look Look Look was released. The Scott Storch-produced title track was released as a single and a music video. Hammer now frequently posts about his life on his blog "Look Look Look," as well as other sites.
As a result of his previous success, Hammer has now become somewhat of a popular web mogul and activist, currently involved in several Internet projects (such as the TechCrunch40 conferences and DanceJam). In early 2008, Hammer launched his newest project as co-founder and chief strategy officer of Menlo Park-based (Silicon Valley) DanceJam.com. This exclusive community site is only dedicated to dancing video competitions, techniques and styles which Hammer, and others, judge or rate.
In August 2008, a new ESPN ad featured Hammer in it, showcasing his newest single ("I Got Gigs'" from his album DanceJamtheMusic). The commercial was for Monday Night Football's upcoming football season. This is not the first commercial in more recent years that Hammer has been in, or his songs/raps/dancing was used for or included in. (ie. Lay's, Hallmark, Purell, Lysol, Nationwide Insurance, Citibank, etc.)
According to past articles, Hammer had shown an interest in having his own reality show with specific television networks. He has already been a part of two for VH1 (I Married... MC Hammer) and The Surreal Life. It was later confirmed he would appear in Hammertime on A&E Network in the summer of 2009. This reality show will be about his personal, business and family life. The following year, Hammer appeared on Live with Regis and Kelly on June 3, 2009 to promote his show which began June 14, 2009 at 10 PM EST.
On February 1, 2009, Hammer and Ed McMahon were featured in a Super Bowl XLIII commercial for Cash4Gold.com.
On February 11, 2009, Hammer made an in-person appearance at the Shorty Awards, which honor the top short-form content creators on Twitter. In recent news (March 2009), Ellen DeGeneres made plans for Hammer to be on her show (The Ellen DeGeneres Show) via communication with Twitter. As a result of his popularity with the site, he has been considered a "Tweeter star".
In March 2009, MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice had a one-off concert in the McKay Events Center, Orem, Utah.
After his rapid fall from fame and subsequent bankruptcy (due in part to the number of people Hammer employed, which he would later publicly regret, admitting his so-called friends were only interested in his success and money overall), 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 (Hot Shit)", announced his intention to "blow 30 mill like I'm Hammer". According to VH1, "Hammer was on the money. Hit singles and videos like "U Can't Touch This" and "Too Legit To Quit" created a template of lavish performance values that many rap artists still follow today." Hammer admits, "When I look at Puffy with a choir, I say, 'Sure that's a take-off of what I do."
Hammer has also influenced the music industry as well as pop culture catch phrases and slang. Digital Underground's rap "The Humpty Dance" included the lyrics "People say ya look like M.C. Hammer on crack, Humpty!", boasting about Hammer's showmanship versus Humpty Hump (Shock G)'s inability to match it in dance. Additionally, his sampling of large portions of well-known pop oldies (as opposed to short James Brown or George Clinton funk riffs) has become increasingly popular among mainstream rappers, particularly Diddy's Bad Boy Records stable. At the time Hammer was most popular though, it was frowned upon.
Hammer's clothing-lines, one later called J Slick, and flashy wardrobes also led to other performers being more conscientious about video outfits, "shiny suits" and baggie pants. During his career, Hammer would tour, perform and record with his brother 2 Bigg MC or Too Big (releasing a song in which he considered himself as "King of the Hype"). It's interesting to note that this duo introduced the "shiny suit" to mainstream America as seen in the video "(Hammer Hammer) They Put Me In A Mix" in which Hammer also claimed Too Big was the "King of Hype", who was in an unspoken competition with Flavor Flav (hype man for Public Enemy) during the height of their careers.
During a 1991 episode of Rockline on MTV (with host Martha Quinn), in response to a caller's question, Hammer stated in 10 years he sees himself continuing to make "original material to establish longevity", "energetic... message-oriented songs for a long time to come" and "staying in good shape... working as long as God blesses to be here".
Even in 2008, vandals continue to invoke Hammer's catchphrase.
In 1994, British TV presenter Mark Lamarr interrupted Hammer repeatedly with Hammer's catch phrase ("Stop! Hammer Time!") in an interview filmed for The Word, which he took in good humour. He claimed Hammer was a "living legend". It was also within this interview that Hammer explained the truth about his relationship with "gangsta rap" and that he was merely changing with the times, not holding onto his old image nor becoming a "hardcore gangsta". This change had much to do with his failure due to the ignorance, jealousy and sabotage by the media, public and so-called fans.
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, KFC, Toshiba and Taco Bell to the point that he was criticized as a "sell-out". Hammer also did commercials for British Knights during the height of his career. The shoe company signed him to a $138 million deal. Today, many rappers appear in various major commercials and market their own clothing lines. Ironically, three of Hammer's biggest detractors (LL Cool J, Run-D.M.C. and Ice Cube), would also appear in ads later.
MC Hammer later 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 king sizes to appease him. He throws back their ball, their dog, a car belonging to one kid's dad, and Hammer, still dressed in golden sparkle shirt and Hammer pants. Hammer instantly breaks into the chorus of "U Can't Touch This". The kids then toss Hammer back over the fence as he cries out, "You're not supposed to touch this!" 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. It was also used in a Hallmark Cards commercial.
Hammer has also been mentioned in many other forms of media. In World of Warcraft the male orc does Hammer moves when you use the emote/dance.
The Simpsons have made numerous references to the artist throughout its run. In season 11, episode 22, Behind the Laughter, Homer buys MC Hammer's mansion. The gates to the mansion are decorated with golden letters spelling the word "hammertime," which Homer bashes with a hammer to spell out "Homertime". In "Treehouse of Horror" IX, Homer tries to kill Bart with a sledgehammer, while making a reference to MC Hammer, "It's hammertime dude"!
In Scary Movie, Brenda had kept receiving harassing calls from Hammer. After begging him to stop calling her or she'll call the police, Brenda then goes on to say "There ain't nothing scarier than a brotha who can't manage his money."
In an episode of Family Guy, Peter Griffin visits the U.S. as a diplomat from his newly founded country of "Petoria". Exploiting his diplomatic immunity status by committing crimes such as vandalism and littering, Peter boastfully announces that he cannot be arrested by going into a musical montage featuring a song called "Can't Touch Me", a parody of MC Hammer's song, "U Can't Touch This".
In the 2002 Rockstar Games Grand Theft Auto: Vice City, there are hardware stores that have posters of a hammer at the window that says "Stop. It's Hammer Time!"
In an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & 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".
In 2006, MC Hammer's music catalog (approximately 40,000 songs) was sold to the music company Evergreen for nearly $3 million. Evergreen explained that the collection was "some of the best-selling and most popular rap songs of all time." Speaking for Evergreen, David K. Schulhof stated the songs "will emerge as a perfect fit for licensing in movies, television shows, and corporate advertising."
Hammer appeared on VH1's And You Don't Stop: 30 Years of Hip-Hop (2004) as well as in 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s (2008), a countdown which he was also commentator on. His eldest child, A'Keiba Burrell, was a contestant on MTV's Rock the Cradle in April, 2008 (which Hammer also made appearances on).
MC Hammer continues to give interviews, most recently as a guest on Chelsea Lately (June 16, 2009), where he discussed his relationship with Vanilla Ice, his stint on The Surreal Life, his newest show, family, his mansion, being in shape, his current financial status and other "colorful topics" (subliminal jokes) regarding his baggy pants.
On October 7, 2009, MC Hammer appeared with the NFL San Francisco 49ers first-round draft choice rookie wide receiver Michael Crabtree and his agent, Eugene Parker, in a meeting where they finalized Crabtree's 6-year contract with the 49ers management.
With Chamillionaire and Mistah F.A.B. in Stanford, California in July 24, 2008.
Hammer's dance style not only helped pave the way for the Bay Area Movement called Hyphy, but also helped to bring hip-hop and rap to the Bay Area. His dancing skills are still taught to this day. With his popular trademark Hammer Pants, one phenomenal difference from Hammer versus other performers during his heyday was that he was an entertainer, both during live shows and in music videos. His flamboyant dancing was as much a part of his performances as rapping and musical instruments were. With high-energy dance routines, he was often considered one of the greatest dancers. While adding his own techniques, Hammer adopted styles from James Brown and The Nicholas Brothers such as the splits, and feverish choreographed dance routines including leaps and slides, most notably. His creation of such dances as "Hammer Dance" (or the "Typewriter Dance") and the use of "The Running Man" and the "Butterfly," among others, made his flashy and creative dance skills unlike any others at the time.
During a 1990 visit from MC Hammer (who was accompanied by his friend Fab Five Freddy) on Yo! MTV Raps, one of the dancers whom Hammer was holding auditions for was a then-unknown Jennifer Lopez.
During the height of his career, Hammer had his legs insured for a substantial amount of money (into the millions), as mentioned in an interview by Maria Shriver in the early 90s. He would later suffer injury to his knee that halted his dancing career for a period of time. Eventually, BET ranked Hammer as the 7th Best Dancer Of All Time. Some of Hammer's entourage, or "posse" as he called them, were also trained/skilled dancers. They participated in videos and at concerts, yet too many dancers and band members eventually contributed to Hammer's downfall, proving to be too much for him to finance.
Hammer is still active in the dance media/genre, both on television shows and as co-founder of DanceJam.com (which showcases dance competitions and instructional videos on all the latest dance styles). Well known for bringing choreography to hip-hop, many of his dancing skills can now be seen on this dance-focused social networking site. ???Dance is unlike any other social medium. It's the core of our culture,??? Burrell told Wired News.
In addition to his websites and other Internet appearances, Hammer has also appeared demonstrating much of his dancing abilities on talk shows such as The Arsenio Hall Show, Soul Train, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The View and was a dancing judge on Dance Fever (2003 TV series). On June 3, 2009, he performed the "Hammer dance" on Live with Regis and Kelly with Will Ferrell as co-host.
While Hammer may have challenged and competed with Michael Jackson during the height of his career, they were personal friends and emulated each others dancing abilities. Both shared a mutual interest and respect for one another, as expressed by a phone call Hammer had with Jackson about his "Too Legit to Quit" video which he shared on The Wendy Williams Show (July 2009). Hammer wanted to ensure he was not offended by the ending of the video where a purported Micheal Jackson (seen only from behind) does the "2 Legit 2 Quit" hand gesture with his famous glove. They also both appeared at the funeral service for James Brown in 2006, where Hammer danced in honor of The Godfather of Soul. After Jackson's death, Hammer posted his remembrance and sympathy of the superstar on Twitter. Michael's friend and fellow pop culture icon Hammer told Spinner that, "now that the King of Pop has passed, it's the duty of his fans and loved ones to carry Jackson's creative torch." He went on to say, "Michael Jackson lit the fuse that ignited the spirit of dance in us all. He gave us a song and a sweet melody that will never die. Now we all carry his legacy with joy and pride."
Known for his thrilling stage shows, amazing dance talent, catchy pop hits, spectacular choreography performances, flamboyant wardrobe, community outreach commitment and energetic personal style, MC Hammer was not only nominated for his dancing and choreography skills, but is the winner of a multitude of awards including three Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards, a People's Choice Award, an NAACP Image Awards and the prestigious Billboard Diamond Award (the first for a hip hop artist). He has sold more than 50 million records, breaking down numerous doors for rap music and demonstrating that hip-hop had the potential for blockbuster success.
The International Album of the Year validated Hammer's talent as a world-class entertainer. Additionally, Hammer was also honored with a Soul Train Music Award (Sammy Davis, Jr. Award for Entertainer of the Year) in 1991.
In August 2008, at the World Hip Hop Dance Championships, Hammer won a Living Legends of Hip Hop Award from Hip Hop International in Las Vegas.
Christian influence and pastoral career
In 1984, Hammer began attending Bible studies, joined a street ministry, and formed a gospel rap group known as the Holy Ghost Boys featuring Jon Gibson, another musician interested in religious music. In 1986, Kirk Burrell, along with Tramaine Hawkins, performed with Jon's band doing several concerts in various halls such as the Beverly Theatre in Beverly Hills and recording several rap songs. They collaborated on Gibson's 1988 album (Change of Heart) for a gospel-charged rap "This Wall" prior to Hammer's mainstream success. This was Contemporary Christian Music's first rap hit ever by anyone, especially a Caucasian (Gibson) and/or a duo. Burrell also produced "Son of the King" at that time, releasing it on his debut album.
Raised Pentecostal, Hammer strayed from his faith during his success, before returning to ministry. His awareness of this could be found in a movie he made called Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em: The Movie (1990), in which he also plays the preacher character named Reverend Pressure. Nonetheless, as a tribute to his faith, Hammer vowed to dedicate at least one song on each album to God.
Hammer later reaffirmed his beliefs in October 1997, and starred in the ministry television show MC Hammer and Friends on the Trinity Broadcasting Network as well as appearing on Praise the Lord programs where he went public about his devotion to ministry as an ordained minister. Hammer officiated at the celebrity weddings of actor Corey Feldman and Susie Sprague on October 30, 2002 (as seen on VH1's The Surreal Life), and also at M?¶tley Cr??e's Vince Neil and Lia Gerardini's wedding in January 2005.
During an interview on TBN (between 1997-1998), Hammer claimed he adopted the M.C. back into his name which now stood for "Man of Christ." Hammer continues to preach while still making music, running a social media business and television show, and devotes time to prison and youth ministries.