From his humble beginnings as an Oakland A’s batboy to his phenomenal success with the 1990 cross-over hit, “U Can’t Touch This,” MC Hammer rose to the top faster than any rap act in music history. But less than five years later, he had completely lost his more than $30 million dollar fortune.
The music-filled dramatic biography “Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story” stars Romany Malco in the title role of this true story about the ’90s rap- music phenomenon who soared to the top – and then lost it all. Tangi Miller also stars in the VH1 Original Movie, premiering Wednesday, December 19 at 9:00 p.m. (ET/PT), on VH1.
“Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story” features original master recordings authorized by MC Hammer himself, of the smash hit songs including “U Can’t Touch This,” “Too Legit to Quit” and “Pray.”
Oakland, California, 1974. The baseball fans pouring into Oakland-Alameda Coliseum – home of Reggie Jackson and the Oakland A’s – can’t help but notice 11-year-old Stanley Kirk Burrell as he blisters the pavement with a slick James Brown imitation, dancing for tip money in the stadium’s parking lot. Stanley and his cohorts Wee-Wee and Juicy are hustling for tickets, itching to cheer their hometown team from the cheap seats. Among the onlookers is A’s owner Charlie Finley, who applauds Stanley’s talent and enterprise, and offers the youngster his first paid gig – as the A’s batboy! Stanley becomes the team’s mascot, and is dubbed “Hammer” by Reggie, who notes the boy’s resemblance to legendary homerun king “Hammerin’ Hank” Aaron.
Stanley is profoundly impressed by the experience of being out on the big-league diamond, struck by the intense adulation that the players draw from thousands and thousands of fans. He wants to be a major leaguer, or as he tells his older brother Wesley, “It’s like God told me I was gonna be bigger than Reggie. Hall of Fame. All of it!”
Wesley, a serious young man who is acutely aware of the poverty and despair that dominates their neighborhood and others like it, chides him: “You and a billion other black kids.”
Now nineteen, Hammer – as he now calls himself – is given a coveted personal tryout by Finley and the A’s. But Hammer’s undeniable talents do not extend to mastering big-league fastballs. Faced with the prospect of dealing drugs or hustling for dough, Hammer instead joins the Navy, escaping the streets in return for a hitch. Afterwards, he returns to Oakland, becomes a preacher at Bethany Baptist Church, and marries beautiful young Sunday School teacher Stephanie (Tangi Miller).
In his modest home with wife and new baby, life is good for the good-hearted Hammer. But there’s a void. Singing with the choir isn’t enough to fulfill Hammer’s musical dreams. And with Stephanie’s encouragement, Hammer begins his quest to land a record deal. It costs money to put together an act, however. But his old friends from the Navy and the A’s are all too happy to ante up the scratch he needs to launch the attempt.
With his roaring music-and-dance extravaganza, Hammer and The Posse score big at some local gigs, and soon find themselves signed up as Capitol Records’ first rap artists. When he hits the road, Hammer upstages headliners like New Edition, and won’t back off. His energy and charisma break Hammer’s act beyond rap audiences, and mainstream fans drive the former preacher to notch up a slew of platinum records and Grammy Awards. By the time 1990 rolls to a close, MC Hammer is the hottest act in the music world.
Hammer begins to generate huge amounts of money – only to pay it all out again, building a gigantic mansion and state-of-the-art studio, buying a string of racehorses, and maintaining a bloated entourage of old friends and backup performers, all of whom are on Hammer’s payroll. The much-hyped “Too Legit to Quit” tour hits the road and plays to less-than-full houses. Cracks begin to show in Hammer’s empire, and the fastest-rising star of the hip hop era begins an even faster descent into bankruptcy.
The debut of “Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story” highlights “Movies That Rock,” presenting feature film favorites plus all-new VH1 Original Movies made exclusively for VH1 viewers, every Wednesday at 9:00 p.m.
“Too Legit: The MC Hammer Story” was directed by Artie Mandelberg and written by John Wierick.