The baggy-trousered capitalist

Rap 'legend' MC Hammer plans to become the next Web 2.0 zillionaire by beating YouTube at its own game. Sounds like a long shot to us...

Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

The erstwhile rap star, famous for his baggy trousers and cheesy music videos, has apparently garnered $1m in funding from Silicon Valley investors to launch DanceJam, a video sharing website that lets users upload and watch their own dance videos.

We know what you’re thinking. But this isn’t some kind of (admittedly 15 years too late) endorsement deal. Hammer will act as ‘chief strategy officer’ (whatever that means) of the US-based site when it launches this month. And apparently he can spout management-speak with the best of them – or so he claims. ‘There is no high-tech lingo or business strategy that you can talk that is above my head,’ Hammer told the Associated Press. ‘I breathe this stuff.’

Sadly the same can’t be said for his financial planning. Hammer (or Stanley Burrell, as he’s known to his friends) apparently managed to fritter away the $30m fortune he amassed during his chart career with the kind of extravagance that would make Lord Black blush. This included splashing out $12m on a house with a gold and marble Jacuzzi and two gold-plated ‘Hammertime’ gates, plus some serious spending on cars, antiques and racehorses. At one stage he was even shelling out $500,000 a month on an entourage of more than 300 people. Not surprisingly, he eventually went bankrupt with debts of $14m – so it’s a miracle he’s persuaded anyone to trust him with $1m.

Then again, he’s used to scepticism. Despite selling about 15m albums in the late 80s and early 90s, when he was briefly one of the biggest stars in music, Hammer was never exactly popular with the rest of the hip-hop fraternity. Rappers queued up to diss his naff videos, his sponsorship deals and his reliance on sampling (although many of his tactics seem to be par for the course these days – minus the roomy strides, thankfully).

But if Hammer thought taking on Ice Cube, LL Cool J et al was hard work, it might be nothing compared to the challenge of usurping the modern superpowers of YouTube and its owner Google. DanceJam wants to find a niche that it can do better than YouTube, but the site is so dominant in the world of video sharing that it’s going to be tough for any start-up to lure punters away.

Will YouTube be forced to stop for Hammer Time? Or will it prove its new rival’s most famous adage – when it comes to video sharing, ‘U Can’t Touch This’...?

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