I’m certainly no rabid rap fan, but I do like true life tales of success after bankruptcy, and rapper MC Hammer has a great life tale to tell. (Hammer’s actually a fellow blogger, and he posts stories and videos about his life in a blog, called “Look, Look, Look“, which is also the name of one of his recent albums.) Hammer, born Stanley Kirk Butrell, was in his heyday as a recording artist during the late 80’s and into the 1990’s. I learned that Hammer became a preacher in the late 90’s, and that today he hosts a Christian TV show, occasionally performing at events or concerts. Music fans are familiar with Hammer’s Oaktown Records label and his signature line of Hammer Pants. As for me, I know of MC Hammer two ways, and both connections are worth mentioning as an inspiration to clients facing bankruptcy or who are emerging from bankruptcy.
First, in l996, Hammer filed a gigantic bankruptcy case in California, owing more than $10 million to his creditors. From what I understand, his rise to fame had been rapid, and his fall from fame even more so. One commentator’s remark that “MC Hammer spent most of the latter half of the 1990’s as a punch line in the music business.” tells a lot about the public embarrassment that the Grammy Award-winning artist suffered in the process of falling into the bankruptcy safety net. But the day after he filed the petition, Hammer made a statement that I think all debtors can heed: “It’s time to stop the bleeding and get on with my life,” he told the Hollywood Reporter. As a bankruptcy attorney in Indiana for two and a half decades, I couldn’t have expressed it any better – in that one brief sentence, Hammer managed to capture exactly what the bankruptcy court system is designed to help people do – get on with their lives! (See Born-Again Businesses After Bankruptcy)
Mr.Hammer’s certainly getting on with his. The second way I know him (as you almost certainly do as well), is as master pitchman on TV commercials. All the big name companies have used him in their marketing campaigns – Pepsi, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Taco Bell, and, more recently Nationwide Insurance (where he made fun of his own fall from wealth and fame). In fact, this commercial pitchman thing was groundbreaking; rappers hadn’t done that before, and he was jeered as a “sell-out”. (Of course, those very rappers ended up appearing in commercials and marketing clothing after seeing how successful Hammer was!) This year I even caught Hammer’s appearance on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Talk about making a new start after emerging from bankruptcy! MC Hammer, you’re absolutely right when you sing U Can’t Touch This!