Friday, March 30, 2012

MC Hammer at 50 - Fun Facts (from me)

So today is MC Hammer's 50th birthday and of course, my mind goes back to the 90's with the Hammer pants, Hammertime, the cartoon, accessories and everybody knowing "U Can't Touch This". But here's some fun facts about MC Hammer and my life.

1. Have to be totally honest that Hammer was my introduction to Prince's "When Doves Cry". When I bought a 90's rap CD back in 2000 or 2001, Hammer's "Pray" was on there and I remembered it from my days singing the hook as a kid. Course, being 15 or 16, I had no idea of sampling and didn't know that he sampled one of the greatest songs of the last 30 years. I found out watching a Prince video on BET and lo and behold, I made the connection.

*In the same way, he also introduced me to "Super Freak." People hate hip-hop for sampling but when it turns you on to the original song and makes you appreciate it, you can't hate them. Plus it gave Rick James a huge financial payout.

2. Speaking of "Pray", did you know that's technically Hammer's biggest chart hit on the Hot 100? It reached No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100. Surprisingly, "U Can't Touch This" for all of it's hype, the commercials, being everywhere around the world, it somehow only reached No. 8. Really??? Why couldn't that be the first No. 1 hip hop song instead of "Ice Ice Baby." Just another reminder that chart status has nothing to do with impact.

*Technically it was No. 1 on a whole bunch of other charts so again, further proof the Hot 100 isn't the only barometer of chart success either.

3. Most of you probably know Hammer was a former bat boy for the Oakland A's in the 70's when they were winning World Series. But you probably didn't know Hammer was a decent baseball player too. My colleague Ronnie Flores from ESPN/Rise told me this year that in HS, Hammer used to play in some summer leagues in L.A. with future major leaguers Eric Davis and Darryl Strawberry. Not a surprise, but I believe he said Hammer was no slouch.

4. My 5th grade drill team danced to Hammer's "It's All Good" and I thought it was the coolest song ever. You might remember that came off the same album as "Pumps And a Bump" when Hammer tried to go harder. To a 10-year-old, I assumed everybody sounded like that from the limited rap I knew. But that song will always remind me of seeing my drill team practice in the fellowship hall.

5. My friends and I made up a crazy dance to his song on the Addams Family soundtrack. Don't ask me to do it (or maybe try your best to bribe me) but it involved shuffling your feet, switching hands during the chorus, jumping around like some Alpha Phi Alpha brothers whenever "Pistol Grip Pump" comes on.

6. When 3rd Bass dissed MC Hammer in "Gas Face", Hammer was still mainly under-the-radar. I assumed for years that Pete Nice and MC Serch dissed him after he got popular but since Gas Face dropped in 1989, this was a Hammer mainly known for "Turn this Mutha Out" who they legitimately had beef with, according to this interview Pete Nice did.

I grew up in the shadow of Hammer in 1990-93. He was the first superstar to me that I knew besides Michael Jackson. My sister's dance company had a whole show that revolved around "2 Legit 2 Quit". We all joked about him losing money but few people realized that Hammer put a lot of people on with jobs and did as much to put Oakland on the hip hop map as Too $hort or E-40. Plus his songs have a bit more replay value than I expected.

Plus I'll never forget how he was dancing at James Brown's funeral. We haven't forgotten his impact and as he's aged, we won't forget his music and how he took over the world. So happy 50th birthday MC Hammer, thanks for creating some great memories in my life and props on being content with yours and keeping God first.