Monday, March 9, 2009

Please, Hammer, Don't Hurt 'em!

From following MC Hammer's Twitter, I know he's got a lot going on right now. But there's definitely something ironic with an MC Hammer/Vanilla Ice show in Oren, UT, covered in last week's Newsweek:
Even though their music has come to represent all that was cheesy about the '90s, instead of hiding from it, these two old friends perform it. It's a feat requiring either a complete lack of self-awareness or an overabundance of it. Most would settle for the former, but don't hate on Hammer and Ice for choosing the latter.
Hammer and Vanilla Ice no doubt were in my tape deck rotation in middle school. Who at that age didn't call out, "Please, Hammer, don't hurt 'em"? I know I sure as hell did. Hammer had more of a lasting presence shape shifting his way even onto the Suge Knight's Death Row Records. You can find that album if you Google correctly.

I'm happy for him. He's still getting paid to perform. When you're a born performer, I can't imagine what it'd be like to give it up. But Utah, listen to the journalist describe the audience:
They come costumed: neon colors, translucent fabrics and acid-wash denim, with teased hair and single earrings. Many of them wear the pants that became Hammer's sartorial trademark. One woman wears no pants at all, the better to read the words stitched on the rear of her red panties: "Ice Baby." Most of these folks were just born the last time Hammer and Ice performed together 18 years ago, if they were born at all. Somehow, they still sound nostalgic. "I hope he does his old stuff," says Reagan Nickel, 21, who trekked an hour and a half from Bountiful, Utah, to see Ice. "I saw him on TV a while ago bashing his old stuff. He shouldn't bash it, he should be proud of it. We are. Aren't we proud of it?" "Yeah!" shouts a sextet of nearby girls, in unison, every last one of them 14 years old. The majority of the crowd falls into the late-teen, early 20s range. They aren't the ones who bought Hammer's and Ice's records the first time around. They got their nostalgia secondhand, from VH1's ceaseless "I Love the '80s" and "Awesomely Bad" specials, from iTunes recommendations, from "Family Guy," which derives a solid half of its humor from arcane pop-culture references. To these kids, the Hammer era is fun and frivolous, something to celebrate, not to deride. It's not the lame music their parents conceived them to. It's the music that blared from their older siblings' rooms.
Ironic, right? These kids are reliving my early teens with more gusto than I ever had the first go round. Rock on, Utah! Rock on, MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice.


  1. My first concert ever was in 6th grade at the Worcester Centrum in Worcester, MA. It was the "Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em" tour. Opening act(s): Vanilla Ice, followed by En Vouge (when there were 5 women in the group). Then Hammer came on with like 70 people on-stage.

  2. I was too young to go to shows when Hammer was big. My first show, Robert Cray, was in the 9th grade, with my father, and my first show on my own was following my sophomore year, Lollapalooza. I would have loved to have seen "Can't Touch This" in the 6th grade.