WIRTB Review: MC Hammer

On this day in 1962, Stanley Kirk "MC Hammer" Burrell was born. Let me preface this, before I get into the "Was it Really That Bad" aspect of things, by saying "happy birthday" to a legend in the game


From this man, musically, we got several hits in the '90s that are still referenced to this day. We also got a cartoon series, Hammerman, that falls into the category of "the less said about it, the better." I mean, it was the late '80s, early '90s. Everyone had a crappy cartoon series attached to their name.


Crappy cartoons aside, whenever we talk about MC Hammer, we always make jokes. We crack wise about the parachute pants. We defecate on his pop rap sensibilities (see the many spoofs of "U Can't Touch This" and the fact that it ripped the "Super Freak" melody without even flipping it in anyway). Additionally, the fact that his rags-to-riches-to-rags-to-upper-middle-class lifestyle is a walking example of how not to live when you're ballin' (no Bibi Bourelly). But, with all that against him, was MC Hammer really that bad? 


The main gripe against Hammer was probably that he was a pop rapper in an age of "realness." But, he couldn't do anything but make poppy rap. We saw this when he went "gangsta." It failed and failed miserably. MC Hammer was created by the rap gods to make songs little white kids could dance to and not have to fear their folks coming in and saying "turn off this 'ghetto' music." 


He made happy music in the vein of Will Smith for most of his career. His music, while poppy and while it ran parts of the rap game for its time, was mostly innocuous. There was no harm in dancing to "2 Legit 2 Quit." It was made so you could dance your pain away. There didn't need to be much "real talk" because it served its purpose as saying "yes, there's violence, gang drama, and racism in these streets. But, just for a second, let's put that on the backburner and celebrate the fact we made it through another day."

I'd argue that Hammer's pop bars were needed in the era from whence they came. You had your N.W.A.'s, your sociopolitical rap, your Tupac Shakurs. You needed something fun every once in a while to balance things out. It's not like the man was Vanilla Icing his way through the game. I could get the hate against the man if that were the case. But, be it as it may that Hammer was needed, does his music hold up today?


No. And that's the problem. Sure, it's fun and nostalgic to hear "U Can't Touch This" or "Pumps and a Bump" or even "Break 'Em Off Something Proper." However, bar-wise? His bars don't hold up. His lack of substance is apparent and made worse by the fact that he came out in an era of "realness" being pushed as the game's M.O. Does that inherently make his music suck toilet water? No. It is what it is: pop rap at its 90s finest. But, does that mean that people will probably only tolerate small doses of Hammer while playing the entirety of some other artist's discography? Probably. 

Now, this is not to slight the man. What he did in the rap game was astounding. The fact that I'm writing about his impact and his lyrics close to thirty years after his debut is testament to his impact in the game. However, when you break it down, Hammer just doesn't hold up. He can't. Sure, he may have better bars than [insert turn-up rap artist name here for comparison's sake]. But, overall? We can touch this, we just don't wanna. 

Please, Hammer, don't hurt me.

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