MC Hammer: How America’s 1st mainstream rapper went from $70m to bankruptcy

Abu Mubarik April 26, 2022
MC Hammer. Image via Amazon Music

MC Hammer shot to fame in the late 1980s. His rap songs were not only played across the world but were on the lips of many music lovers. He became a global sensation following the release of his most famous track U Can’t Touch This in 1990.

Not only was his song so popular, but his style of dressing also became a popular culture among the youth. He was often in his quirky outfits alongside his baggy trousers. His music success and fame also meant that he was raking in big bucks.

MC Hammer was among the highest earners in the music industry, bringing in a reported figure of $30 million a year at his peak around 1991, with his fortune estimated at around $70 million, according to The Mirror. However, five years later, MC Hummer would file for bankruptcy after spending lavishly and going broke.

These financial pitfalls started when he went on a spending spree as he began to earn big. He reportedly purchased 17 luxury cars, a private jet, two helicopters, and 21 racehorses, with some of the animals valued at around $1 million each, according to the Mirror.

He also hired a staff of 200 people against sound financial advice, costing him $500,000 a month. His biggest spending was on real estate. He purchased a California property for $12 million and spent a whopping $30 million turning it into his dream home.

He reportedly installed gold-plated front gates emblazoned with his Hammer Time catchphrase. He also added a recording studio, 17-car garage, tennis courts, two swimming pools, a bowling alley, basketball court, and baseball triangle, to his mansion.

The rapper was not done yet with his extravagant lifestyle. He also spent a lot of money on adorning the property with marble statues of himself and installed a gold hot tub in his bedroom. According to him, his decoration inspiration came from some of the hotels he stayed in while touring for shows.

“In my world travels, I stayed at the finest hotels. I’ve seen the best…,” he told the Chicago Tribune. “That pop-up TV console in the bedroom? I got the idea at The Mirage in Vegas…

“All the floors are marble. My wife flew to Italy and picked it out of the mines.”

Gradually, his money was running dry and he soon realized he was spending more than he was receiving. And by 1996, he filed for bankruptcy and listed more than 200 creditors with his debt totaling at least $10 million, with only $1 million in assets.

He subsequently sold his home for just $6.5 million, that is, $5.5 million less than he originally bought it. Also, his cars, planes and other luxury properties were taken from him and he moved into a moderate facility.

MC Hammer was down but not out. He staged an impressive comeback and today, he has investments in several startups. In 2020, rapper Chamillionaire said in an interview that MC Hammer owns a piece of Twitter.

Hammer was born Stanley Burrell in Oakland, California. He was one of nine children. His mother was a secretary while his father worked two jobs: running a local casino and supervising a warehouse.

For all intents and purposes, MC Hammer significantly contributed to the mainstreaming of hip-hop music. Mainstreaming is here defined as transcending narrow appeal. We can also tell MC Hammer mainstreamed the genre by the fact that he was the first African-American entertainer to tempt multiple marketing divisions in corporate America into agreeing to various multi-million dollar deals. He had a doll and a cartoon show named after him by 1991, to put things into context.

Last Edited by:Mildred Europa Taylor Updated: April 27, 2022


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