Pop culture lies I tell my kids: U Can’t Touch This

The origin of U Can’t Touch This by MC Hammer

ON THE DRIVE home from my daughter’s soccer practice this afternoon, I gave her a history lesson on the origin of the song “U Can’t Touch This,” by MC Hammer.

It began while MC Hammer (born: Stanley Kirk Burrell, March 30, 1962) was on a European sightseeing adventure in Paris, France. As you’ll recall of this adventure, it began in London with a final destination in The Bay.

Mr. Hammer’s first historic stop in Paris, France, was to Rue de Rivoli, site of The Louvre, known to the locals as Musée de Louvre.

Enamored by the portrait painting of The Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci, inventor of the helicopter, 747 jumbo jet plane, and parachute (though, sadly, not the parachute pants), MC Hammer leaned in too close to the archetypal masterpiece of the Italian Renaissance, and was quickly reprimanded by Louvre security who announced, “You can’t touch this.”

Pulling out his Moleskine notebook, Hammer, a super dope homeboy from the Oaktown known as such, jotted down the statement yet to back away from the exhibit.

Again the security guard announced, “Why you standing there, man? You can’t touch this.”

Out of respect Hammer had been gifted a song, albeit unknowingly to the security guard himself, Hammer fell on back cold on a mission with fresh new kicks and pants and said, “Oh my Lord.” Though peeved, he reminded himself, “Please Hammer, don’t hurt ’em.” He was a visitor in a foreign land after all and knew he must respect the customs of his host country.

Upon his arrival back home to The Bay in the U.S. of A, Hammer called up habitual line stepper Rick James to request a sample of “Super Freak” for his new soon-to-be hit song, “U Can’t Touch This.”

“Mr. James,” Hammer said.

“I’m Rick James, bitch,” replied Rick James on the other end. “Is that you Charlie Murphy?”

“No, Mr. James, it’s me Hammer. Stanley Kirk Burrell.”

“I’d like to sample ‘Super Freak’ in a new song I’m working on.”

“Go with the flow,” said Rick James and Hammer began.

“If you can’t groove to this,” Hammer finished, “then you probably are dead.”

“Tell me the origin,” said Rick James.

“It began while in Paris, France, as I stood in awe of…”

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By Jeffrey Pillow

Jeffrey Pillow is an American short story writer, memoirist, and poet. He is the author of The Lady Next Door. His writing has been published in Urge Magazine, The Nervous Breakdown, 16 Blocks, USA Today, Sports Illustrated, TheBody.com, New York Times, Washington Post, and Richmond Times-Dispatch.

He grew up in the small town of Phenix, Virginia, population: 200, and now lives in Charlottesville with his wife, two kids, and a dog named Mozzarella Cheese. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia where he was a Rainey Scholar. This is his blog.