'The Funky Headhunter': When Hammer Swung Hard

Submitted by notoriousclassics on Wed, 03/30/2022 - 20:29
MC Hammer in 1994

Nobody was expecting tough tracks from MC Hammer. The Oakland rapper born Stanley Kirk Burrell ushered in a new wave of pop-style hip-hop in the '90s thanks to the immortal track "U Can't Touch This," and followed it up with a string of songs that all charted higher than his signature tune. ("Have You Seen Her," "Pray," "2 Legit 2 Quit" and even the one about The Addams Family all scored bigger on the Top 10.)

Three years after 2 Legit 2 Quit, Hammer came back in a way nobody was expecting, with a hard-hitting G-funk inspired album and a video that surely made a lot of eyes pop. "Pumps and a Bump," the lead single from The Funky Headhunter, courted considerable controversy for its music video, set poolside at Hammer's mansion. It wasn't the scantily clad models that earned the biggest uproar, though: it was Hammer himself, clad in a black and white Speedo that left little to the imagination.

Ultimately, Hammer recorded a much tamer video - but The Funky Headhunter was controversial in other ways. For the first time, the rapper used his lyrics to respond to other artists who criticized his family-friendly style. Q-Tip, Redman and even Run-DMC were put on blast on tracks like "It's All Good."

Despite the disses and the eye-opening videos, The Funky Headhunter managed to go platinum, just missing the Top 10 in America, and "Pumps" was his last Top 40 pop hit. From there, Hammer did seemingly everything from briefly signing to Death Row and joining a ministry to declaring bankruptcy and starring in commercials trading off on his "U Can't Touch This" fame.