Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'em

M.C. Hammer

Capitol Records, 1990

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


Okay, I admit it - when M.C. Hammer started infiltrating the airwaves in 1990, I got hooked on the catchiness of "U Can't Touch This". Thanks to a black roommate who barely tolerated me (and who I thought was an asshole - I know, I worked with him in radio, and he made my life hell), I got exposed to "Hammertime" thanks to Arsenio Hall's worshipping of the former Stanley Burrell.

Now, eight years after it came out, Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em sits collecting dust in the Pierce Archives (Go Bulls), and after listening to it again last week, the question I have to ask is: What the hell were all of us thinking in 1990? This isn't R&B, this isn't even rap - it's crap.

M.C. Hammer hardly shows any creativity at all on this album. Stealing blindly form Rick James (sampling "Super Freak" on "U Can't Touch This"), butchering an R&B classic by speaking - not singing, mind you... my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 speaking - new lyrics to "Have You Seen Her?", and dipping into Prince's catalog not once, but twice, and managing to fuck it up each time.

An area where the lack of creativity is heard is in the raps themselves. Hammer barely gets going with a rhyme when - bam! - he returns to the chorus. It's damned near impossible to get into any of the songs on this album. Having said that, I will make one exception - "Yo!! Sweetness" is a catchy number that did have me pumping my fists in the air for about fifteen seconds, thanks to a catchy chorus.

But Hammer's claim to be the anti-gangsta rap doesn't explain the material's sheer weakness. "Crime Story" hardly helps dilute anything that N.W.A had said to this point, while Hammer's PG-13 side comes out on "She's Soft And Wet" - and if you believe this is a story about someone who just got out of the swimming pool, I have some videos I think you'd better spend some serious time with.

And when Hammer does get a somewhat interesting groove going, he completely runs it into the ground with its redundance. "Pray" could have been a good song had Hammer lengthened the verses, and if he had cut the extended instrumental groove at the end by about a minute. "Work This," on the other hand, is beyond salvation - it's too damned irritating, as is "Dancin' Machine," which steals from (of all people) the Jackson 5. Hey, Hammer, word of advice - there's a reason that Michael, Tito and the boys sang the friggin' chorus... speaking it really sucks.

It's not that I'm anti-rap; quite the contrary. But Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em shows no real originality at all in the pieces. Groups like Digital Underground knew how to craft a song without relying on the samples. To Hammer, the sample is the thing - bad idea. If you don't have strong development to back them up, samples don't mean a thing. (Ironic that the stranglehold that Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em had on the charts was broken by Vanilla Ice, who did for rap music what Chernobyl did for the Soviet Union.)

Hammer is supposedly ready to re-start his career with a new album this year. If it's anything like Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em, allow me to suggest a title: Please, Hammer, Don't Bother.


Rating: D-

User Rating: B


I totally disagree with your review. Too many wrong turns in your review to even start on. Readers try this CD for yourselves, and remember it was 1990 when this CD came out. The reviewer skewers Hammer for sampling, DUH!!! 90 percent of Rap and Hip Hop IS SAMPLING.
I am well aware that most of rap and hip-hop relies on sampling. Some do it as an art form - see Public Enemy or Digital Underground. I can admire the creativity of the use of a sample when it's done correctly. From my memory of this review (written 13 years ago), MC Hammer showed zero creativity to me.

Compare Digital Underground's "Sex Packets" (which also came out around the same time) and "Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em", then we'll talk.

© 1998 Christopher Thelen and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Capitol Records, and is used for informational purposes only.