Peak UK Chart Position: #8 in January 1991.

Stanley Kirk Burrell – born in Oakland, California, and best known as MC Hammer – celebrates his 55th birthday today. Touching on the subject of pop-rap again, he shot to fame in 1990 by heavily borrowing from the Rick James track “Superfreak” and turning it into “U Can’t Touch This”, with Hammer subsequently crediting James as a songwriter to resolve a lawsuit. It became a chart topper in Australia, the Netherlands, New Zealand, and Sweden, as well as number three in the UK and number eight on the US Billboard Hot 100.

The parent album “Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em” also spawned other hits that were either covers – “Have You Seen Her” being originally by the Chi-Lites, and a UK number eight follow-up to “U Can’t Touch This” – or again utilised samples – “Pray” featured here today borrowing from Prince’s “When Doves Cry” and Faith No More’s “We Care A Lot”, and was his biggest American hit, making number two. He also found time to produce and star in his own movie, “Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em: The Movie”, a film about a rapper returning to his hometown who defeats a drug lord using kids to traffic his product. Despite his popularity having seemingly peaked with those first three hits, he would return to the top five in the UK with “Addams Groove” (from “The Addams Family” movie) in 1992, when he was known as, simply, Hammer.

Here is 1990’s “Pray”, which held a UK top ten place right over the Christmas period before peaking at number eight in January 1991, performed live in concert in Japan.

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