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MC Hammer

MC Hammer (later Hammer), real name Stanley Kirk Burrell, (born March 30, 1962) was an early mainstream rapper, known for his baggy pants and catchy hooks on songs like "U Can't Touch This". He was born in Oakland, California and soon began working as a ballboy for the Oakland Athletics. Though he wanted to be a professional baseball player, he did not catch on in a professional organization. He instead joined the Navy and, upon his return, began performing in clubs and opened his own record label, Bust It.

His debut album was Feel My Power (1987 in music), produced by Felton Pilate (of Con Funk Shun). He soon signed to Capitol Records, whereupon the album was re-released as Let's Get It Started.

His second album, 1990 in music's Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em included a smash hit single in "U Can't Touch This", which heavily sampled "Superfreak" (Rick James). The song was the biggest single in rap at the time, and is still the best-selling rap single of all time. "Have You Seen Her" (cover of the Chi-Lites) and "Pray" (sampled from Prince's "When Doves Cry").

In spite of a critical backlash for the repetitive nature of his lyrics and his perceived over-reliance on others' hooks for the basis of his singles. In addition, Hammer endorsed countless products, including dolls and a cartoon show for children.

After dropping the MC, Hammer released Too Legit to Quit in an attempt at gaining critical acceptance. Though the album was, by and large, no more critically accepted than his first, sales were still strong and the title track was another hit. His last big hit came soon after, with "Addams Groove" (from The Addams Family soundtrack). His next album was a hardcore, aggressive LP, The Funky Headhunter that was a commercial failure compared to his first two. Inside Out followed in 1995, but the sales were poor and Hammer was dropped from his label (see 1995 in music).

One year later, Hammer filed for bankruptcy, having spent the millions in income from the last few years. His financial problems rekindled religious feelings in Hammer, and he began to record again, focusing on spirituality. The result, Family Affair, was never released except for a few Internet downloads. Finally, a different album appeared in 2001, Active Duty (2001 in music).

In 1997, MC Hammer (who by that time had readopted the MC) was the subject of the premiere episode of the VH1 series Behind the Music.

2003 was a busy year for Hammer. He was a judge on ABC Family's Dance Fever, and he starred in the The Surreal Life. His popularity on that show led The WB to give him a development deal for a new sitcom based on his current life as a stay-at-home dad.

A new album, The Greatest Dancer, was planned to be released in 2003, but has yet to be released.