NAIL ON THE AHEAD: The Innovations of MC Hammer

Time to unbury this legend.

When MC Hammer first burst on the scene, his addictive sound and magnificent performances hit just as hard as his namesake. My brother and I were addicted to Pump It Up when it came out, with the video being one the hypest things we had every seen. Never one to blow anyone away with his lyricism, Hammer’s true appeal was those energetic beats, amazing feet and “oh!”s on repeat. He also gifted the Hip Hop world with much, much more than a dancing soundtrack.

He broke up that hardcore B-Boy stance and made everyone wanna dance.  You think that Diddy (who also benefitted from Hammer’s shiny suits and choir performances) would have been able to literally two-step for decades if Hammer hadn’t already broken through that taboo? Even WC’s penache for breaking into a C-walk at a drop of a dime can be attributed to Hammer’s devil may care attitude towards dancing his ass off. He also showed the Hip Hop world that you don’t have to just mean mug and pimp walk on stage, rather you can go full Earth, Wind and Fire mode if you got it like that.

Beyond the stage act, Hammer was wildly successful. His undeniable crossover appeal not only brought a lot of new fans to Hip Hop, it gained him the first diamond status for a rap album (Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em). He was also the first rapper to breakthrough the Christian threshold, making it seem like a perfectly normal combination. If Hammer didn’t fully believe in himself and his faith, there’s no way he could have pulled this off in the hardcore world of rap at the time. WAY before Kanye was walking with Jesus, Stanley was already on his knees praying. His very public temptation of the flesh (cough cough Pumps in a Bump cough) and return to redemption just solidified him as a true Christian and Hip Hop legend.

Things that became the norm for rappers to do now got Hammer into ridicule territory when he had the courage to do it first. OutKast doing The Whole World on the Scooby Doo soundtrack?  Hammer got rode HARD for doing Addams Groove. Rappers showing up on The Boondocks? People crapped all over Hammerman, which was for kids for Pete’s sake. Commercials? Hammer couldn’t even get away with a Taco Bell ad, whereas we’ve seen plenty of ‘em shill a ton of products since then.  Whereas the Hammer action figure was crapped all over, you can find Biggie and 2Pac vinyls on Amazon right now.

The list of Hammer firsts goes on and on. He was one of the first Hip Hop artists to establish his own label in order to distribute his people and his community. He was the first to attempt to transcend rap, temporarily dropping the MC moniker in order to make his music universal.  He started a sports management company decades before Jay-Z would do the same. 2 Legit 2 Quit was one of the most expensive vidoes at the time, unheard for a rap song that may or may not have pop appeal. He made sampling universally acceptable, which damn near everyone does nowadays. Finally, he reinvigorated Rick James well before Dave Chappelle catapulted him back into our collective faces.

The man is an understated legend.  Hip Hop owes him a debt it cannot possibly pay.

Do you admit that you loved MC Hammer's music?
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