Born in Harlem, New York City, MC Hammer is a well-known rapper and singer. He is best known for his hit single, “Xxplosive.” His animated series, “Space Ghost,” which is on TV for many hours every Saturday night, has also given him a popular following. While MC Hammer was growing up in the era of the “rappers,” he was also studying dance in order to learn to be a dancer. His animated series, “The Baby” is based on his life in the dance world.
Known professionally as MC Hammer, he began his musical career when he was a teenager attempting to break into the music industry. His first band, the Position, went under after he left the group to pursue other interests. After leaving the group, he formed a new group with his childhood friend, rhyme artist Blue Collar. They called their band Hammertone.
MC Hammer would go on to become a well-known rapper during the 1980s. His first album, “Hit the Bottle Game,” was an immediate success, selling more than two million copies in its first two weeks of release. The album was very successful in both the UK and the US, and remains one of the best selling rap singles of all time. During his career, Hammer’s style was similar to that of singers such as Rakim and Big Daddy Kane, and even showed a crossover for his style of rapping, as he rhymed about cars and bling with Rakim’s “Hip Hop For Money.” However, he would later tone down his music a bit, forgoing certain phrases that were deemed too “big city” or “urban” in nature.
Part of MC Hammer’s appeal can be placed in his ability to draw attention from a wide variety of audience by using several mediums. He has been able to gain a large following not only through records that he has self-written and produced, but also through his performances at various music and radio shows around the world. A good example of this was his appearance on Pitch Control, a British comedy talk show, where he poked fun at several popular rappers. During his performance he made several references to the chart-topping song by the King of Pop, P Diddy, which was actually a cover of a song by the Temptations called “Reelin’ in the Years.”
The MC Hammer persona that emerged on his early solo albums and those of the Temptations included a common unity that critics would later describe as “a sense of humor.” MC Hammer would often use a series of comical lyrics to poke fun at the more serious topics of the songs he wrote. For instance, on his first album, “I’ve Got One Hit,” he sings about getting fired from the newspaper, then going on to rhyme his way through an entire verse about how he’s now in the big leagues of stardom, while still being forced to wear the mask of an unemployed cartoon character. Though the Temptations eventually went their separate ways, there was a clear connection between them that helped to pave the way for their eventual collaboration.
The next album that he would produce would be the self-titled Hammering on Bull Float, an album that would feature guest spots from such unlikely sources as Van Halen, Cream, Cheap Trick, and Motley Crew. Partially due to the theme of the album as a whole, which centered on partying and burrowing one’s feelings, it can be said that the album had the dubious reputation of being the last “MC Hammer” project to be produced by him in the studio. Although he had done several others during his short career, such as “Reelin’ in the Years” and “Hits Don’t Matter,” the album ended up being his last release and was met with mixed reviews. However, the positive reception of the album may have had something to do with the unique guitar effects that were used on the album. Instead of using an ordinary pentatonic scale on most of the songs, Hammering on Bull Float instead featured a distorted guitar sound that was mostly performed by Tommy Lee sitting in front of the microphone.
While many people may not immediately recognize the name MC Hammer thanks to his appearances on the television shows “American Idol” and “The King of Rock and Roll,” the real MC Hammer is Michael Burrell. Burrell went on to star in several more films including the movie “Dumb and Dumber,” but his association with the band of MC Hammer ended there. Still, despite the fact that he never actually stepped into a rock band’s guitar, Burrell made quite a few memorable appearances performing with various acts such as the Yardbirds, Thrice, and the Jacksons. After leaving the MC Hammer scene for good, he formed the band Cee-Lo with his then-girlfriend, singer-dancer-actor Susan Sarandon. The band went on to record several albums including “O,” “Chained to the Rhythm,” and “Echoes.”
MC Hammer and his Cee-Lo bandmate are now seen as rap superstars thanks to several popular albums that feature their unique styles and sounds. A number of hip hop and rap recording labels saw potential in the group and helped them make a name for themselves thanks to the group’s popularity and chart success. With their deion Sanders, guitars, and brash personalities, it seems the odds are stacked in favor of the MC Hammer and Cee-Lo team to be able to stay together and succeed in the rap world for years to come.
Photo Credit: Posted By Brian Solis on https://www.flickr.com/photos/50698336@N00/2699722683/