2 Legit 2 Quit

Album: Too Legit to Quit (1991)
Charted: 60 5
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Songfacts®:

  • "2 Legit 2 Quit" wasn't the smash hit MC Hammer was hoping for, but it did leave behind a popular catch phrase. Even decades later, the title phrase remained a mantra of perseverance, and thanks to the music video, has a hand gesture to go with it. Just put up two fingers, switch to an "L" with the thumb and forefinger, then swipe across with the palm down to show there's no quit.
  • MC Hammer went big with his 1990 breakthrough album Please Hammer, Don't Hurt 'Em, touring with a huge entourage that had too many hype men and not enough accountants. His profligate productions and lavish lifestyle (he bought a $20 million mansion) were funded by huge sales of the album, which sold an astounding 10 million copies in America, led by the hit single "U Can't Touch This." Ever the showman, Hammer was everywhere, making regular TV appearances, pitching for Pepsi, and in hot rotation on MTV. He had his own action figure and his own cartoon (Hammerman). He had race horses, including one (Dance Floor) that ran in the Kentucky Derby.

    But Hammer fatigue started to set in when the fourth single from the album, "Here Comes The Hammer," stalled at #54. Undeterred, he went bigger than ever for his next album, Too Legit To Quit, spending $2.5 million on the video for the lead single, "2 Legit 2 Quit." He hit the road with an even bigger entourage that gobbled up even more expenses. This time, album sales couldn't support it. Too Legit To Quit sold 3 million, but the single faded fast and ticket sales tapered off. Hemorrhaging money, Hammer couldn't complete the tour, and he was beset with financial problems. His next two albums didn't do much damage, and in 1996 he filed for bankruptcy.
  • The song has a massive, shouted chorus and a big, chunky beat, but unlike Hammer's previous hits, it was not structured on an existing hit ("U Can't Touch This" was built on Rick James' "Super Freak"; "Pray" sampled Prince's "When Doves Cry"). Running 5:04 in edited form, it hammered a little too hard for pop radio and topped out at #5 in the US.
  • The contrast between MC Hammer's self-assurance in this song and his fall from grace is striking. He raps about staying on top and takes shots at those who didn't ("You remind me of a real short story; one hit record and you start to bore me").

    To his credit, Hammer didn't quit. He stayed in the public eye even after he was humbled, and proved willing to poke fun of his financial foibles. When the South Korean rapper Psy exploded on YouTube with "Gangnam Style" in 2012, he cited Hammer as an influence and brought Hammer back into the spotlight by bringing him on stage for performances of "Gangnam Style" mashed up with "2 Legit 2 Quit."
  • The female vocalist on this song is Sonia Moore, who later appeared on "One Girl/One Boy" by the group !!! (Chk Chk Chk).
  • The full version of the video is 15-minutes long and larded with celebrities - Hammer had a lot of famous friends. Directed by Rupert Wainwright, it starts with a newscast where Jim Belushi breaks a story that Hammer may be quitting, leaving everyone waiting for him to take the stage disappointed. It goes to a man-in-the-street segment where Queen Latifah, Danny Glover and other celebs share their thoughts. Rob and Fab from Milli Vanilli even show up, speculating, "Maybe he didn't sing on the record!"

    Hammer then goes to see James Brown, who shoots some fireballs at him and tells him he's ready to take on the champ, which we learn is Michael Jackson when Brown says, "Bring me back his glove."

    Of course, Hammer doesn't quit. He takes the stage in a flurry of special effects and breaks out some new dance moves to hype the crowd. At the end of the video, a host of sports stars show up to do the hand gesture. Among them, Wayne Gretzky, David Robinson, Roger Clemens, and Hammer's good friend Deion Sanders.
  • MC Hammer switched his name to "Hammer" before releasing this song. He switched it back in 1995 for his album V Inside Out.
  • Hammer reprised this song on the next single, "Addams Groove," doing the "2 Legit... 2 Legit 2 Quit" refrain in the Addams Family flow.
  • Along with Hammer, four other songwriters are listed on this track: Louis Burrell, James Earley, Michael Kelly and Felton Pilate.
  • The line, "When I feel high post don't you play me close" is copped from Bobby Brown's "Don't Be Cruel," where he sings, "I treat you high post but you play me close."
  • The 2 Legit 2 Quit tour was notable not just for its extravagance, but also for its opening acts. Both Boyz II Men and TLC were on the tour and had just released their first albums. By the end of the tour, both had huge hits on the charts (Boyz II Men with "End of the Road" and TLC with "Baby-Baby-Baby") but Hammer did not.
  • Rick Ross referenced this song in his 2009 track "Mafia Music," rapping, "Banned in 1994 but I'm to legit to quit."

    The next year, Ross included a song called "MC Hammer" on The Albert Anastasia EP.

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