239. Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em – MC Hammer
PLEASE HAMMER, DON’T HURT ‘EM (1990)
Born Stanley Burrell and nicknamed “Pipeline” by the owner of the Oakland Athletics, Charles O. Finley, his immortalized nickname, Hammer, was reportedly given to him by baseball Hall of Famer, Reggie Jackson because of the young Burrell’s resemblance to the legendary Henry “Hammer” Aaron.
I first saw him in concert in the mid-18\980’s opening up for Jon Gibson at the famed Christian nightclub in orange County called The Lighthouse. He was part of a small group called “The Holy Ghost Boys” and was later named the Holy Ghost Boy himself after the group disbanded.
The next time I saw him was at a Church I was working with as a Youth Group leader in Whittier, CA. Producer Bill Baumgart had asked if i knew of a youth group that would want to be involved recording a portion of a song to be on the next Jon Gibson album. The youth group had to be large enough and willing to have the recording take place at their church. I volunteered our Church.
Baumgart, Gibson and Burrell arrived at the Church and Burrell was introduced that night for the first time as “MC Hammer.” The rap portion of the song performed by hammer is the first mention of the name “MC Hammer” and appears as “The Wall” on Jon Gibson’s “Change of Heart” album.
I carried his first demo and first independent release at Maranatha Village before taking a job with the Benson Company. A few months after leaving the store MC Hammer released what many think of as his debut release, “Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em” and the world of rap and hip-hop changed overnight.
Gold would no longer be the goal. In fact, platinum (1 million in sales) would no longer be an overstated goal. PHDHE would be the first hip-hop album to be considered a “Diamond” release with sales in excess of 10 million copies and is currently headed toward 20 million! The album stayed at number one for nearly half of the year and stayed in the Top 100 for well over a year. The famous “Hammer Pants” and dance moves also became iconic, though later ridiculed by the “cool” critics.
Spurred on by the smash hit, “U Can’t Touch This,” the album is iconic for its sales and impact on the industry. Though later the album would find critics for not being street, legit, rough, etc it has once again considered a classic and phenomenal album for what it is. The respect has returned as today’s crop of rappers often refer to the album as the trend setter and pinnacle for what an artist attempts to achieve.
Lost amongst the sea of accolades and criticism is an album that actually delivers some very overtly Gospel messages. The follow up single is the blatant, “Pray,” and there is plenty more for Christians to claim. The huge single mentions the gifts that come from the Lord, “Help the Children” is a Christian call for the community to reach out to the fringe kid in need.
After losing everything and filing for bankruptcy, Hammer returned directly to the CCM market with a release and now is a minister in Northern California as well as a regular on Christian television. He never again came even close to reaching the heights of popularity or artistic achievement, but for a moment in time, there was no bigger artist in music than the hammer.