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MC Hammer Biography

Last updated: 02/17/2009 11:00:00 AM

Hammer on The Surreal Life

Known for his amazing dance talent and spectacular performances as well as his flamboyant wardrobe and energetic personal style, MC Hammer is the winner of three Grammy Awards, eight American Music Awards, a People's Choice Award and a Diamond Award. He has sold over 30 million records, breaking down numerous doors for rap music and demonstrating that hip-hop had the potential for blockbuster success.

Hammer was born Stanley Kirk Burrell and raised in Oakland, Calif. His first break came when he landed a job as a ball boy for the Oakland A's, where he entertained fans by dancing during game breaks and earned the nickname "Hammer" for his resemblance to all-time home run leader, "Hammerin'" Hank Aaron.

An aspiring baseball player, Hammer was unable to break into professional baseball. He gave up that dream and enlisted in the Navy for three years. Upon his return to Oakland, he began performing at local clubs and, with help from several of his athlete friends, started his own record label. Recording singles and selling them out of the trunk of his car, he marketed himself relentlessly. In 1987, using the name MC Hammer, he recorded "Feel My Power" and impressed a Capitol Records executive with his elaborate live dance show. Soon after, he signed a multi-album deal.

Hammer's 1988 triple-platinum debut, Let's Get It Started, paved the way for his massive breakthrough effort, Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em which sold 17 million units and established him as the most popular hip-hop artist of the era. The mega single "U Can't Touch This" was unavoidable in 1990, playing regularly on radio and MTV.
For 1991's five-time platinum 2 Legit To Quit, Hammer dropped the "MC" from his name, but kept the trademark wholesome pop-rap sound, which had won over millions of fans worldwide. The single became his second big smash. In 1994, Hammer returned with a new platinum album, The Funky Head Hunter, and a grittier, hip-hop image. In 1997, Hammer announced his choice to use his musical talents to praise God and emphasize traditional family values.

A new album, The Greatest Dancer, will be released in 2003. He is a producer on the MTV feature film, Better Luck Tomorrow, due out in the spring. Also in 2003, Hammer's WorldHit record label will release eight new musical acts and his new book Enemies of the Father, will be released in September.

In December 2001, 2 Legit To Quit: The Life Story of MC Hammer became the second highest-rated original movie in the history of VH1.
Hammer currently resides in the Bay Area of California with his family. In his spare time, he enjoys going to the movies, dancing, playing sports and spending time with his family.