MC Hammer’s House Party crashed its way through Ruoff Home Mortgage Center in Noblesville, Indiana filling nearly 7,500 seats on their summer tour. It has been twenty-eight years since MC Hammer - or Hammer as he would later rebrand himself in an effort to stay relevant with the increasing influence of Gangsta Rap upon 90’s culture - embarked on a “major” U.S. tour. Not since the 1991 tour for his third album (Too Legit To Quit) and follow-up to the phenomenon that became his biggest commercial success Please HammerDon’tHurt‘Em. It’s been awhile.
DJ Kool, wearing a pinstripe Shaquille O’Neal Orlando Magic jersey as an ode to quite possibly the coolest NBA player from the era, kicked things off with a solid mashup of hip hop classics including his own “I Got Dat Feelin’” and the legendary 1996 dance club smash hit “Let Me Clear My Throat” which had the crowd chanting back “ha” in unison when Kool said, “hey.” Hey! Ha! Hey! Ha!
Following up was the immortal Harlem rapper and beatboxer Biz Markie who, by the end of his howling, spit-soaked set, had shed several shirts down to one displaying the iconic purple Prince symbol paying homage to the late multi-faceted artist which seemed to be a common thread throughout all the performances. He thumped the microphone against his head and bopped his lips as if a human drum machine in an impressive yet all too abrupt showcase of his beatboxing skills. He ended his set with the obvious “Just A Friend” which had already tipsy fans squawking out the chorus which was the only time anyone under the age of thirty-five (there weren’t many) was honestly able to recite the words to any of the night’s songs outside of “Can’t Touch This.”
Next up was my favorite act of the night, Kid ‘N Play, whose 1990 comedy cult classic House Party followed the success of their 1988 hit single “Rollin’ With Kid ‘N Play” which rounded out their set. Part performance, part comedy act, the duo entertained “the elephant graveyard” (aka fans) with tongue-in-cheek jabs at their geriatric age and physicality. In the movie, the pair challenge party goers to a dance-off by proclaiming, “you can’t do it,” but the only challenge at their current age was showcasing their moves for an entire song without collapsing from shortage of breath.
Coolio and his instantly recognizable pigtail antennae continued to pay homage to Prince and other deceased artists. Eazy E and Nipsey Hussle are just a couple as his “Fantastic Voyage” and “C U When You Get There” served as the musical vessels for which to carry on their memory. Before his exit, eager fans rushed the stage barrier to cop a quick selfie with the rap giant as he gladly and patiently relished the limelight if only for a few brief moments.
Finally, the illustrious MC hit the stage with his entourage of dancers ditching the infamous “Hammer pants” for a black, jewel encrusted tracksuit and matching headband. “Let’s Get It Started,” the title track from his 1988 debut album sampling a portion of Queen’s “Another One Bites The Dust,” appropriately kick-started the performance by highlighting some of the rapper’s historic dance moves. He then transitioned into “Have You Seen Her,” the third track from Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em. F or this part of the performance, he grasped a bouquet of red roses and tossed them to adoring mega fans seated in the front row as he proclaimed, “The thought is so clear of the love I need here...” He then shifted into “Pray,” another fan fav, which also borrows the bass line from Prince’s “When Doves Cry.” The lyrics still ring true twenty-nine years later as “We (still) got to pray just to make it today.” He then highlighted his dancers as they performed elaborately to “They Put Me In The Mix” with each of them seemingly physically passing electricity from one to another which culminated in the group transferring all of their energy into a single dancer who writhed and thrashed about the stage. For the finale, Hammer shifted his hands and fingers to the rhythm of “2 Legit 2 Quit” for the iconic dance that became a cultural phenomenon. Not a single person in attendance wasn’t performing the move and when it was over, the swarm of people eagerly anticipated the inevitable in the entertainer’s biggest hit “Can’t Touch This.” Before the song began, the star invited fans to pack the stage and once it was bursting at the seams with vibrantly dressed ultra-fans, he launched into the classic song which had everyone under the stars moving and sliding their rump. And just for a minute on a Saturday night, they all did the bump