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 successful hit records, flamboyant dance techniques and trademark Hammer pants.
As a legendary icon in pop culture, Hammer was considered a forefather and innovator of pop rap, but 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.
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).
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. The fact that the record has reached this level indicates the genre is growing."
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 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.
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.
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. 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. [wikipedia]