M. C. Hammer nailed five American Music Awards and a defensive Vanilla Ice won two as rap again showed itself as a major force in popular music.
The award show Monday night maintained a celebratory spirit, but winners and presenters paid tribute to American forces fighting in the Persian Gulf.
Hammer, on stage, dedicated one of his trophies to the troops overseas. Backstage, he declared full support for them, noting that he is an ex-Navy man.
“Although I was a person saying give peace a chance,” he said, “I still say that once my sisters and brothers, my family, are over there defending us, then I say do all you have to do to stand and win and come back home.”
Hammer swept five nominations in rap and the soul-rhythm and blues categories and lost only two, both to Phil Collins, in pop-rock.
The energetic rapmaster was named favorite male artist in soul-R&B; and rap, and “Please Hammer Don’t Hurt ‘Em” won the album trophy in both those categories. His “U Can’t Touch This” was favorite soul-R&B; single.
“Some people may like the dancing and the energy of the music, some people may like just the change to something different,” Hammer said backstage at the Shrine Auditorium. “I present myself contrary to the stereotypical rap artist, and I think some people might find it refreshing.”
Hammer’s two big losses were to Collins for male pop-rock artist and album. The latter went to Collins’ ” . . . But Seriously.”
Janet Jackson entered with five nominations and won three trophies, including favorite female artist in pop-rock, soul-R&B; and dance music. Collins and Jackson did not attend the event.
Rap’s dominance was apparent in the award for new pop rock artist. White rapper Vanilla Ice beat Wilson Phillips, a trio with a slick pop sound, and Mariah Carey, a singer of operatic range who writes her own material.
Vanilla Ice, also favorite new rap artist, seemed defensive about his rap authenticity. He thanked supporters but told critics they could “kiss my white butt” and later said backstage he was referring to those who don’t believe “that a white guy like me can grow up in the streets.”
The rapper’s record company bio once stated he attended the same high school as Luther Campbell of 2 Live Crew. After some questioned that claim, a revised bio was issued without any reference to Campbell.
Longtime rockers Aerosmith beat Bell Biv DeVoe and New Kids on the Block for pop-rock group. Aerosmith also won heavy metal-hard rock artist.
Bell Biv DeVoe, purveyors of a hip-hop R&B; sound, was best new artist in the soul-R&B; and dance-music categories. The trio Tony! Toni! Tone! garnered the soul-R&B; group award.
Reba McEntire topped the country awards, winning the album honor for “Reba Live” and the female artist trophy. George Strait was male country artist, and Garth Brooks’ “If Tomorrow Never Comes” was the favorite single.
Alabama won its ninth consecutive award for country group. The Kentucky Headhunters won new country artist over Alan Jackson and Travis Tritt.
Country great Merle Haggard got the non-competitive Award of Merit.
Quadruple-nominee Madonna won only once, taking the dance-music single trophy for “Vogue.”
Jon Bon Jovi won pop-rock single for “Blaze of Glory” from the “Young Guns II” soundtrack.
Bon Jovi said that since the war started, “I’ve never prayed so much in my life.”
In the heavy metal category, Slaughter was named top new artist and Motley Crue’s “Dr. Feelgood” won favorite album.