It may not be a very popular idea anymore, but the fact is that MC Hammer made some of the biggest and catchiest rap music ever to break into the mainstream. His hard-edged delivery was really one of the first to break out of the slow and deliberate pattern that previous successes like Run-D.M.C. and LL Cool J had utilized. Along with Public Enemy, N.W.A., and a few others, he took the old-school style of rap and updated it slightly without taking it to the next step à la A Tribe Called Quest. Instead, he took what was a hot formula at the time, found some excellent beats and tracks, and crafted the intense juggernaut Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em. The tracks off that album that made it to The Hits are blatantly the best songs on the whole album. From the emotional "Pray" to the classic "U Can't Touch This," MC Hammer was one of the guiding forces of the new jack swing movement in the early '90s. "Too Legit to Quit" couldn't be longer, going on for what seems like 700 hours as the same repetitive phrase drives itself into the listener's brain like a rusty dentist's drill. The tracks from that album (with the exception of the bouncy "This Is the Way We Roll") are so hideously bad that it's hard to imagine how he could have taken such a dramatic downswing after his unprecedented success. Of course, having a cartoon series based on your shoes after three years in the business must do something terrible to someone's mind, so maybe it was that instant mainstream acceptance that made it such a terrible record. The few songs that made it from Let's Get It Started are quite good, proving that before his rise to the top he genuinely had a talent for his craft. That is the cutoff point for this collection, ignoring the underrated experiment with gangsta rap (Funky Headhunter) and the Christian-influenced follow-ups (Inside Out, Active Duty) that he would unsuccessfully support throughout the '90s. MC Hammer was never great, but his rise and fall was one of the most extreme in the history of pop music, and this collection points out why his one successful album is really the only one in his career that could have had anywhere near the impact that it did at the time.
The Hits Review
by Bradley Torreano