On this day, Feb. 12, in hip-hop history...

1990: Today marks the anniversary of MC Hammer's Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em, which is, without a doubt, one of the most commercially successful albums in hip-hop history.

Spearheaded by Hammer's off-the-charts smash hit single, "U Can't Touch This," Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em is the Oakland rapper's third LP and was the number one album for 21 weeks on the Billboard 200 back in 1990. Featuring a familiarly funky riff from Rick James' "Superfreak," "U Can't Touch This" birthed the catchphrase "Stop: Hammertime!" and became an early-'90s radio staple.

Hammer's bouncy, new jack swing style of hip-hop helped to popularize the genre into the mainstream, especially when the Bay Area artist incorporated his signature dance moves into the music videos on television. But all of that didn't come with out a bit of criticism. In a time when the gangsta rap subgenre was at its peak, especially on the west coast, some mocked the "Here Comes the Hammer" rapper for his pop-oriented music and image.

Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em also caught backlash for the fact that it was packed with prominent samples from from incredible popular songs that, at first, were used without permission. Hammer was the subject of two separate lawsuits stemming from the use of others' music on the album. Rick James wanted his proper cut for the use of "Superfreak" on "U Can't Touch This," and it was discovered that the song "Here Comes the Hammer" was derived from a song an artist named Kevin Christian. Both suits were settled out of court.

The speed bumps didn't slow up Hammer or his debut album at all, however and the aforementioned lead single, "U Can't Touch This," was followed up by "Have You Seen Her," which sampled the Chi-Lites' song of the same name and reached No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, and "Pray," which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100 and heavily featured a sample from "When Doves Cry" by Prince.

The album as a whole went on to become the first rap album ever to be certified diamond by RIAA, selling more than ten million copies. To this day, it is still one of the best selling albums in rap with over 29 million copies sold worldwide.

Capitol Records
Capitol Records

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