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MC Hammer brought rap music to the mainstream audience with his album Please Hammer Don't Hurt 'Em, the biggest-selling rap album of all time.
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Clad in his trademark parachute pants, Hammer appeared everywhere, and his record was played nonstop on the radio.
For Hammer the success translated into unimaginable wealth. In 1990 Forbes estimated the young musician to be worth $33 million. Tapping into the success of the album, Hammer produced and starred in a film of the same name. The movie tells the fictional story of a rapper who returns home and defeats the city's biggest drug kingpin.
Returning quickly to the studio,
Hammer released his fourth album, Too Legit to Quit, in 1991. In an effort to promote the record, the musician accompanied its release with a lavish tour and expensive music videos. Despite all the glitz and PR muscle, the record failed to capture the magic or the sales numbers his previous effort had.
As quickly as Hammer rose to the top of the music world, he just as rapidly fell from its pinnacle. Just six years after the success of his landmark album, Hammer filed for bankruptcy. In court he claimed assets of $9.6 million against debts that neared $14 million.
At the height of his spending, Hammer employed 40 people, bought a $30 million home (later sold), and owned at least 17 cars as well as several racehorses. His list of creditors included football star Deion Sanders, who had loaned him $500,000.
As hip-hop evolved as a music form, Hammer tried to keep up. Throughout the 1990s and the first decade of the 2000s, Hammer continued to write and record music. In all he's released more than 10 albums during his long career, but nothing has ever matched the celebrity and sales that greeted his records in the early 1990s.
In recent years the businessman in Hammer has put him in the middle of a number of different business opportunities, from fashion to tech to mixed martial arts. In addition, he's appeared in several different commercials and television shows.
In February of 2013 Hammer was arrested at a shopping center in northern California. The arrest followed a verbal altercation with a police officer who had pulled him over in a car that wasn't registered in his name. A few weeks later, the charges against Hammer were dropped.
Since 1985 Hammer has been married to Stephanie Fuller. The couple has five children together. The family lives in Tracy, California.
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