Monday, February 13, 2006

Digging In The Magazine Box: Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em

Digging In The Magazine Box is where I look through some of my old magazines to find interviews, articles, and reviews of interest. This time I look into the May 1990 issue of Spin to find a review of MC Hammer's brand new album, Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em:

MC Hammer
Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em

After first hearing MC Hammer's de­ but, Let's Get It Started, I filed it away, thinking, "Just another sucker MC who can't rap." Then Hammer blew up: his videos were kickin', his tightly choreographed stage show was live, his production company, Bustin' Records, busted out by discovering and produc­ing Oaktown's 3.5.7 among others. Started rocked over two million ear­drums, and he landed a cameo on Earth, Wind & Fire's album Heritage. All that noise and Hammer's new album made me reassess this Oakland rapper: he's no small-time sucker, but he still can't rap.

Which isn't a knock against Hammer. Somewhere along the line he must've realized that his verbal prowess isn't on par with his physical fitness. "Here Comes the Hammer" and "U Can't Touch This" Hammer's voice is mostly muffled, his words barely distinguishable, his rhymes irrelevant: the thrill of listening to them is left to the imagination - how would Hammer and his posse interpret their slammin' beats on­stage? Probably better than Hammer interprets Michael Jackson's "Dancing Machine" and Marvin Gaye's "Mercy, Mercy Me"-two songs Hammer doesn't sample, but interpolates. Interpolates? Yup. Hammer cold-cops the music tracks from these don't-touch-it­if-you're-not-gonna-hurt-it tunes, revamps the background singing and adds some rhymes of his own.

"On Your Face" (EW&F) and "Have You Seen Her" (Chi-Lites) are less interpolations than covers. Hip hop covers of R&B songs? Yup. Here Hammer reveals what's perhaps a secret longing-to be a singer, not a rapper. Or better, to be an entertainer. At this rate, if hip hop hits Las Vegas 15, 20 years from now, Hammer, with his business savvy and Oaktown posse, will be there rapping "My Way."

-Ben Mapp

MY COMMENT: Almost 16 years after this review, we can look back at what has happened to hip-hop. Are we in the Las Vegas phase right now? Did this album really pave the way for everything that has happened since then?


idiotproof67 said...

Your last sentence pretty much is spot on.
Reiterated by the fact that when I mentioned the word 'skills' on SS I was immediately dissed for using an antiquated term.

baronvonscratch said...

I thought I sent this note last month but I guess not so I'll do it again:

Thanks for posting that old article of us. My children got big kicks seeing their pop was doing the Hip Hop thing long before it became a commodity.
I feel very fortunate to still be working in music after my 15 minutes expired almost 20 years ago. These days you'll find me in one of my studios behind a mixer, drumkit, synth, bass, guitar, computer or even a pair of 12s.
I've changed my focus to client production, remixing and post as my rock-star days are over.
I still approach projects from the dj perspective and you'll hear the old school in everything I do.
"...still rockin' the beats, I'm just a little older...the southend soldier". Baron Von Scratch 1989