For anyone who is older than 25 and was somewhat cognizant in the early 1990s, the following words cannot be said around you without you either A) making the hand gesture or B) thinking of making the hand gesture.
Those words are: “Too Legit to Quit” which sometimes seem to just amble out of someone’s mouth when verifying that things, indeed, are cool. Or legit. Or spot on.
“That’s legit!” someone might exclaim. Then, they might even throw in the famous MC Hammer line. Then, inexplicably, the awesome hand gestures start in your mind.
As a sports-crazed kid who wasn’t really allowed to watch MTV because it was a little risque (how about now? Snooki showing her cookie? Teen Mom?) sometimes I would sneak looks at videos when MTV actually, you know, played videos.
(Oddly enough, I was allowed to have both the Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer cassettes. Vanilla Ice mainly talked about drugs, guns and hos, which I guess is what a rapper is supposed to do. That was viewed as OK since my mom didn’t know the lyrics, but MTV was a no go.)
I remember friends of mine at school talking about the latest MC Hammer video, “Too Legit to Quit” and all the sports stars that were in it. It was literally a “Who’s Who” of top athletes. However, by the time the video came out, my mom had canceled cable all together and relied on basic cable and the newspaper for information.
But, my dad hadn’t!
So, on one of the weekend’s we visited him, I was glued to the TV waiting for the latest MC Hammer video to come on. When it did, I not only loved doing the hand gestures, but recognizing these sports stars at the height of 1991 who were, in fact, Too Legit to Quit.
The actual music video is ridiculously long, features James Brown and MC Hammer in a banana hammock in the beginning – and an Oakland A’s letterman jacket and matching shorts later on – and some of the best special effects since Star Wars.
While the video length isn’t quite Thriller long, it is still considered the 8th longest music video of all time. But, it’s so worth it. And, as a kid, waiting for the sports stars to show up was well worth it. Especially because they were in black and white … oooooohhh!
Hammer obviously payed homage to his Bay Area roots (he was an Oakland A’s batboy) and for some odd reason, Atlanta. Maybe because he and Deion Sanders were tight.
Let’s break this down by athlete, current-day legit-ness and who the modern athlete would be if, say, Kanye West made a video featuring sports stars. (Times noted so you don’t have to sit through all 11 minutes, although you should):
8:22 – Jose Canseco: Only one more All-Star appearance and 100 RBI season after appearing in the video; he pitched in a game, tore up his elbow and allowed a flyball to bounce off his head for a home run. He also blew open the doors on the Steroid Era, which was good, but also got into celebrity boxing and celebrity appearances, which was bad. Current day Legit-ness: 4 (out of 10). Modern day athlete in his place: Josh Hamilton
8:23 – Isiah Thomas: Closed up a Hall of Fame playing career two seasons under-.500 later, and the 1991-92 team lost in the First Round of the playoffs. He then ran the ABA into the ground, sabotaged the Knicks and is currently coaching at Florida International. Who? Excatly. Current day Legit-ness: 2 (it’s this high only because he was a great player). Modern day athlete: Chauncey Billups
8:27 – Kirby Puckett: Led 1991 Twins to worst-to-first World Series title and then had four more All-Star seasons before retiring. He was a Hall of Famer and, unfortunately, has passed on. Current day Legit-ness: 8. Modern day athlete: Matt Kemp
8:31 – Jerry Rice: The best receiver of all-time. Do we need to continue? Current day Legit-ness: 10. Modern day athlete: Andre Johnson.
8:33 – Rickey Henderson: Perhaps played a little too long, but the same could be said of the above. Fantastic player who didn’t have an All-Star appearance in the 12 years he played following the video but is a Hall of Famer. Current day Legit-ness: 9. Modern day athlete: Carl Crawford
8:35 – Deion Sanders, Andre Rison: One is known as “Prime Time” is considered the best ever to play his position and was inducted into the Hall of Fame this summer. The other is known as the guy whose house Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes burned down. Current day Legit-ness: 9 (not 10 because of his fairy commercials playing now); 3. Modern day athlete: Nnamdi Asomugha, Chad Ochocinco.
8:40 – Chris Mullin: Was part of the 1992 Olympic “Dream Team” and was one of best pure shooters in the NBA. After the video, he took his team to the playoffs in five of his final 10 years and played in two All-Star Games. Was recently inducted into the Hall of Fame. Was also the Warriors general manager for five seasons where some of his best work was with the team that upset Dallas in the 2007 first round. Current day Legit-ness: 8. Modern day athlete: Manu Ginobili
8:57 – Roger Clemens: At the time, The Rocket was coming off a Cy Young season and then proceeded to win four more, make seven All-Star teams and make many believe he was the greatest pitcher ever. Turns out, he was heavily juiced, as was his wife, and now his Hall of Fame credentials are in question. Plus, he’s a damn liar, won’t admit a thing and is turning out to be a humongous bitch. Current day Legit-ness: 2. Modern day athlete: Roy Halladay.
8:58 – Roger Craig, Ronnie Lott: Craig was once one of the best running backs of his time, but played just three seasons (including ’91) after this video came out and was clearly on the downside of his career. Lott, meanwhile, played four more productive seasons for the Raiders and Jets after his appearance and is in the Hall of Fame and all safeties are measure to him. Current day Legit-ness: 7, 10. Modern day athlete: Ricky Williams, Troy Polamalu
9:13 – some female basketball player. We’re not wasting our time on this one. In the time it took us to write this, she missed a layup and turned the ball over.
9:36 – David Robinson: The Admiral was just getting started into his career, which turned out to be one of the best by a center in NBA history. He won two NBA titles, was an MVP, led the league in scoring one year, was a nine-time All-Star following the video and a four-time All-NBA pick and was part of the NBA’s 50th Anniversary Team. Oh, yeah, and he’s in the Hall of Fame. Current day Legit-ness: 9. Modern day athlete: Dwight Howard
9:56 – Jerry Glanville: Known more for his antics than his actual coaching, he finished his NFL coaching career 10 games under .500 which is better than his college coaching career (9-24, yikes!) Current day Legit-ness: 5. Modern day coach: Rex Ryan.
Final tally: 12 athletes, eight of which turned out to be Hall of Famers, some random chick with a basketball and a brash coach. Not bad, Hammer. Not bad.
Plus, at the end, MC Hammer calls Michael Jackson out and wants his glove. He could walk the walk, especially in the Hammer Pants.
Kanye, the bar has been set.