How MC Hammer Went From Bankruptcy And Losing It All To Becoming One Of Silicon Valley’s Most Respected Tech Investors

How MC Hammer Went From Bankruptcy And Losing It All To Becoming One Of Silicon Valley’s Most Respected Tech Investors

If someone uses the phrase “can’t touch this” to emphasize how they stand on business, they owe a piece of their clap-back vocabulary to legendary rapper MC Hammer.

Stanley Kirk Burrell, better known as MC Hammer, was more than just a rapper — he was a cultural phenomenon. An Oakland, CA, native who burst onto the scene in the ’80s and ’90s with his high-energy performances and flashy style, MC Hammer’s hits like “2 Legit 2 Quit,” “U Can’t Touch This,” and “Addams Groove” became anthems of a generation while his unique fashion sense, such as the balloon Hammer pants, set trends.

The Rise Of MC Hammer

In 1991, MC Hammer won three Grammys for the previous year’s work — Best Rap Solo Performance, Best R&B Song, and Best Music Video – Long Form. During this era, the rapper appeared in movies and television shows, was sought out to perform on late-night talk shows, and inspired fashion trends.

Although the rapper found success, MC Hammer also faced public financial turmoil. According to a previous AFROTECH™ report, MC Hammer made nearly $70 million at the height of his career. During this time, he lived a lavish life, acquiring nearly 20 luxury cars, 21 racehorses, a private jet, and a helicopter. Although it cost him $12 million to purchase his Fremont, CA, home, he invested more than $30 million in improvements on the mansion, which featured gold toilets and gold-plated front gates inscribed with “Hammer Time” to welcome guests.

The 40,000-square-foot property also included a bowling alley, a 17-car garage, tennis courts, two swimming pools, and a recording studio. Additionally, MC Hammer employed a staff of 200 people, costing him between $500,000 and $1 million per month.

The Turning Point In His Career

By 1996, his excessive spending would land him in bankruptcy. MC Hammer had more than $10 million in debt and only $1 million in assets, according to SF Gate. Despite this drastic change in fortune, he has no regrets about how everything happened.

“Some people ask me sometimes, would I go back and change things?” MC Hammer said, per an profile. “They are flabbergasted by my answer. My real, true answer is I wouldn’t change one thing. I really believe in the butterfly effect. Meaning that if I change one thing, everything else changes. I lose the kids I have now. I lose the relationships I have now. I lose the peace I have now. So I’m very happy with my decision.”

While many choose to remember him only for his hit songs and economic downfall, that is only a part of the 62-year-old’s story. Today, the father of five is an accomplished entrepreneur, faith leader, and tech investor.

MC Hammer Is ‘Too Legit To Quit’

According to the profile, MC Hammer’s interest in technology began when he was making music videos in the 1990s. He saw the potential for music videos to be shared on the internet. However, this presented challenges as the technological infrastructure was not yet ready for this. MC Hammer remained committed to his vision and continued to explore ways to share his music videos, eventually witnessing the rise of platforms like YouTube.

“So I stuck with it all the way from ’94 to YouTube,” he said. “If you look on YouTube, you’ll see me there when their [offices] were on top of a pizza parlor and only had three or four computers.”

That kicked off his tech investing career. He now works with companies that intersect technology, music, and marketing in Silicon Valley, CA. His investment portfolio includes companies like Bump Technologies, Square, and X when the social media platform was known as Twitter.

“On a day-to-day basis, I’m loosely involved with about eight [technology] companies that I’m excited about,” MC Hammer said in the Oprah profile. “Everything from advising to consulting to investing in, it keeps me busy 10 to 12 hours a day.”

MC Hammer’s most recognizable tech investment is in Twitter. A separate AFROTECH™ report revealed in 2020 that Chamillionaire had talked with MC Hammer at a tech conference and shared that MC Hammer “owned a piece of Twitter.”

A Respected Figure In Oakland

A 2011 Billboard report noted that MC Hammer was working on about a dozen startups, including investing in companies like Bump Technologies and Square. His investment strategy has cemented him in the Oakland community as an “OG” of sorts by leveraging his failures and triumphs as tangible experience and necessary wisdom.

“Anybody in the Valley who invests around the commodity of music on the digital side, they know how to reach out to me,” MC Hammer told the outlet. “It’s a very, very small community up here. I’m usually just a text away.”

The DanceJam co-founder is being intentional about where his money goes these days. MC Hammer’s investment approach isn’t haphazard; he approaches each idea with strategy and insight for large-scale impact, instilling confidence in his business acumen.

“I’m interested in companies that can have a global impact on enterprise in general; things that can make your connected life more interesting and easier,” he said via Billboard. “But always, I look for opportunities to support and expand the music business model or reinvigorate the music business model.”

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