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Monday, September 15, 2014

African American Slang In M.C. Hammer's "U Can't Touch This"

Edited by Azizi Powell

This post explores the use of African American slang in Stanley Kirk Burrell (M.C. Hammer's) late 1989/1990's hit record "U Can't Touch This".

This post is presented for cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes.

All copyrights remain with their owners.

Thanks to M.C. Hammer for his muical legacy. Thanks also to all those who composed this song, and performed this song. Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post and thanks to the publisher of this video on YouTube.

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INFORMATION ABOUT "U CAN'T TOUCH THIS"
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/U_Can't_Touch_This
"U Can't Touch This" is a hit single written, produced and performed by MC Hammer from his 1990 album, Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em. The track became Hammer's signature song and is perhaps one of his most recognizable records. In addition, it's considered to be one of his most popular/successful singles to date.

Along with Hammer, Rick James shared songwriting credits with Alonzo Miller, because the song samples the prominent opening riff of "Super Freak". The single has been used or referenced in multiple television shows, films, commercials and other forms of media. It has also received numerous awards and recognitions.

The song lyrics (in particular "You can't touch this" and "Stop, Hammer time!") became pop culture catchphrases...

Directed by Rupert Wainwright, a music video was produced to promote the single, showing Hammer doing some of his signature dances, such as "The Running Man" and "Hammer Dance"...

In September 1990, the video for "U Can't Touch This" won an MTV Video Music Award for Best Rap Video and Best Dance Video and was nominated for Best Male Video, Best Editing, and Best Choreography.
In 1999, MTV's 100 Greatest Videos Ever Made included "U Can't Touch This" at No. 71. In October 2000, VH1's "100 Greatest Dance Songs" included "U Can't Touch This" at No. 88. In May 2001, VH1's 100 Greatest Videos included "U Can't Touch This" at No. 59.
In August 2005, "U Can't Touch This" was certified gold. In December 2007, VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of the 90s" included the song at No. 16.[8] During 2008, the song ranked as No. 26 on VH1's 100 Greatest Songs of Hip Hop.

In 2010, the song ranked as No. 6 on AOL Radio's list of the worst songs ever.[9]"

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SHOWCASE VIDEO: MC Hammer - U Can't Touch This



emimusic Uploaded on Feb 24, 2009

Music video by MC Hammer performing U Can't Touch This.

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LYRICS: U CAN'T TOUCH THIS
(Stanley Kirk Burrell, Rick James, Alonzo Miller)

Can't touch this
Can't touch this
Can't touch this (oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh)
Can't touch this (oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh)

My-my-my-my music hits me so hard makes me say oh my Lord
Thank you for blessing me with a mind to rhyme and two hype feet
That's good when you know you're down
A super dope homeboy from the Oaktown
And I'm known as such
And this is a beat uh u can't touch
I told you homeboy u can't touch this

Yeah that's how we're livin' and you know u can't touch this
Look in my eyes man u can't touch this
You know let me bust the funky lyrics u can't touch this
Fresh new kicks and pants
You got it like that now you know you wanna dance
So move out of your seat
And get a fly girl and catch this beat
While it's rollin' hold on pump a little bit
And let me know it's going on like that like that
Cold on a mission so pull on back
Let 'em know that you're too much
And this is a beat uh u can't touch
Yo I told you u can't touch this
Why you standing there man u can't touch this
Yo sound the bells school is in sucker u can't touch this

Give me a song or rhythm
Making 'em sweat that's what I'm giving 'em
Now they know when you talk about the Hammer
You talk about a show that's hyped and tight
Singers are sweatin' so pass them a mic
Or a tape to learn what it's gonna take
And now he's gonna burn
The charts legit either work hard
Or you might as well quit
That's word because you know
Can't touch this (oh-oh oh oh-oh-oh)
Can't touch this (oh-oh oh oh-oh-oh)
Break it down
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh oh-oh)
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh oh-oh)
Stop Hammer time

Go with the flow in a spin if you can't move to this
Then you probably are dead
So wave your hands in the air
Bust through the moves run your fingers through your hair
This is it for a winner
Dance to this and you're gonna get thinner
Move slide your rump
Just for a minute let's all do the bump
Bump bump bump yeah
Can't touch this
Look man u can't touch this

You'll probably get hyped boy 'cause you know you can't u can't touch this
Ring the bell school's back in break it down
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
Stop Hammer time

(Oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh)
(Oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh)
(Oh-oh oh-oh oh-oh oh-oh)
(Oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh) u can't touch this
(Oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh) u can't touch this
(Oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh) u can't touch this
(Oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh) break it down
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)
Stop Hammer time

Every time you see me that Hammer's just so hype
I'm dope on the floor and I'm magic on the mic
Now why would I ever stop doing this
With others makin' records that just don't hit
I toured around the world from London to the Bay*
It's Hammer go Hammer
It's a Hammer yo Hammer and the rest go and play

Can't touch this (oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh)
Can't touch this (oh-oh oh oh oh-oh-oh)
Can't touch this (oh-oh oh-oh-oh)
Yeah u can't touch this
I told you u can't touch this (oh-oh oh-oh-oh)

Too hype can't touch this
Get me outta here u can't touch this
(Oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh)

Source: http://www.metrolyrics.com/u-cant-touch-this-lyrics-mc-hammer.html
-snip-
* I changed this word to "Bay" from that page's transcription of "bank". Given that M.C. Hammer is from Oakland, California, "Bay" probably refers to the "San Francisco Bay".

I also changed the line that was given to "music hits meee so hard"
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LYRIC EXPLANATIONS
(Unless otherwise cited, these are my explanation for these words, phrases, or lines from that song. Additions and corrections are welcome.

"[u] can’t touch this" = you can’t do what I’m doing better than me

"music hits me so hard = I feel really the music

"Thank you for blessing me with a mind to rhyme and two hype feet" - "two hype feet" means an ability to dance very well

"That's good when you know you're down" = in this context, being down with something means really knowing [how to do] it

"a super dope homeboy from the Oaktown" - a really "hip" man* from Oakland, California. "*Homeboy" technically means a man from your neighborhood or hometown. But here it just means "a man who is down with (comfortable in/knowledgaable in) the [Black urban] streets" (culture).

"You know let me bust the funky lyrics" = let me rap these really cool lyrics

"Fresh new kicks and pants" = new fashionable shoes and pants*

"bust a move" = to dance (and/or break dance) very well.

"get hype" = show lots of enthusiasm (so you can dance better)

"fly girl" = an attractive, hip woman [ hip- one who is up to date with the latest urban fashions, slang etc]

"Break it down!" = Do your best [dance] moves

"Stop Hammer time" - stop moving and then do your best dance moves

"ring the school bell, school is in session" = Declaration that M.C. Hammer is going to teach people how to do what he does (rap, dance, make best selling records)

"I’m dope on the floor" = I’m really good on the dance floor (I’m a very good dancer)

"Now they know when you talk about the Hammer
You talk about a show that's hyped and tight" = a show that's done very well; The dancing is exciting to watch and is well coordinated.

"he's gonna burn The charts legit" = make a hit record legitimately, not by playing and selling his music underground

'It's a Hammer yo Hammer" and the rest go and play" = Fans ask for Hammer and not other rappers (who might as well play since Hammer is working the microphone and stage so well)

"When others making records they just don't hit" = when others make records they’re not a hit , the records don’t sell well)
yo Hammer –hey hammer (Note that sometimes in Hip hop “Yo” has no meaning)
-snip-
* The lyrics "nice pants, Hammer" was given in another transcription of this song. Those words mimics what fans (supposedly) tell Hammer. M.C. Hammer was known for the style of pants he wore while performing:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hammer_pants
“Hammer pants, a loose fitting trouser inspired by harem pants which originated in the Arabian Peninsula and are often mistakenly called "parachute pants", are customized/modified baggy pants tapered at the ankle with a sagging rise made suitable for hip-hop dancing.[1]

Hammer pants were popularized in the 1980s and 1990s by rapper Stanley Burrell who would entertain/dance in them during live concerts and music videos, hence the name referring to his stage name, (M.C.) Hammer.”
- snip-
However, Hammer’s “parachute” pants were the object of considerable teasing from a lot of other rappeeers and a lot of Hip Hop fans who didn’t respect Hammers pop-Hiop Hop style of rapping and performance presentation.
From http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MC_Hammer
"A multi-award winner, [Stanley Kirk Burrell] M.C. Hammer [and later known as "Hammer"] is considered a "forefather/pioneer" and innovator of pop rap (incorporating elements of freestyle music), and is the first hip hop artist to achieve diamond status for an album. Hammer was later considered a sellout due in part to overexposure as an entertainer (having live instrumentation/bands, choreographed dance routines and an impact on popular culture being regularly referenced on television and in music) and as a result of being too "commercial" when rap was "hardcore" at one point, then his image later becoming increasingly "gritty" to once again adapt to the ever-changing landscape of rap."

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