U Can’t Touch This

“U Can’t Touch This”  is a song co-written, produced and performed by MC Hammer from his 1990 album Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ’Em.  The track is considered to be Hammer’s signature song and is his most successful single.  It peaked at number one in the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and on the charts in several countries.  The song is notable as the winner of Grammys for the Best R&B Song and a Best Rap Solo Performance and also the first rap song to be nominated for the Grammy for Record of the Year.  (More from Wikipedia)
Not long after we moved to New York City in January 1990, THE song on the radio and on videos and even in the air was the huge rap hit “U Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer.  It is almost impossible not to like this song, or at least I found it that way, and my landing in the big city about the time that “U Can’t Touch This was hitting its stride in the charts helped that along.  The song was not initially available as a single, so album sales of Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ’Em hit 18 million.  MC Hammer had other hit songs over the years but, not surprisingly, was never able to top this one. 
The sampled break that repeats throughout “U Can’t Touch This is the monster opening riff of Rick James’s “Super Freak” (1981), one of the catchiest and funkiest instrumental passages ever (and I am certainly not alone in feeling this way).   
Super Freak” includes some background vocals by the Temptations in one part, preceded by Rick James saying:  “Temptations sing!”  The tempo of the background singing is different from that of the song.  In some long-form versions of “U Can’t Touch This, this part of the Super Freak” song is also sampled – it felt like a sample of a sample to me. 
Initially, MC Hammer took full writing credit for “U Can’t Touch This, but anyone familiar with Super Freak” knew exactly where the song came from.  The lawsuit brought by Rick James and others was settled out of court when MC Hammer agreed to give Rick James a songwriting credit (and thus a whole lot of cash) for “U Can’t Touch This
The same issue came up with the Vanilla Ice hit song Ice Ice Baby (1990) that was released on the heels of “U Can’t Touch This, where in this case the sample was taken from “Under Pressure” by Queen and David Bowie
(September 2016)
Last edited: March 22, 2021