“I sexed more with conversation than I ever did with my penis or my tongue.” – Iceberg Slim
If you’ve read any of Robert Beck’s books you will understand why his genius and mastery of words reflect a complex creature that could not be summed up simply as a pimp. His words had a way of putting you in the moment, lulling you into his reality of wire hanger whippings, luxurious hotel rooms, and the drugs of the time that kept him so aloof that he earned the street moniker Iceberg. Pimping is a cruel, evil institution that has been strangely glamorized in Hollywood and music alike, but to say that the mythical pimp (not the real kind) does not hold a certain appeal to damaged young men is to be dishonest or dare I say ignorant to the culture.
What is it about a pimp that would attract a young man in any sort of way? Aren’t pimps nothing but sociopaths, rapists, and slavers that prey on young girls in order to make a profit? You see the outfits, you hear the language and you wonder why such a negative, cruel, caricature of a thug would mean anything in the life of any young man. I wondered this too as I thought about my younger years and the music that we listened to. Pimp culture was synonymous with hip hop culture, especially the music that came from the West and the few rap artists that hailed from the South.
As teens we were either pretty boys trying to dress and impress the girls or we were fans of Dr Dre and Snoop, trying hard not to “love dem hoes”. In PIMP: The Story of My Life Robert Beck explained how his disappointment in the way his mother used men, the racism of his school (despite him showing genius level intelligence) and the draw of the streets led him down a fast path to pimping. He was aware of what he was and explained how intoxicating and glamorous that life was to him, all while giving us anecdotes of torturing a woman that worked day and night to bring him money.
Unlike Beck’s raw account of the good and bad times in his life as a pimp, music and Hollywood shows a sort of fancy clown that we laugh at for his humorous words, admire for his ability to pull women, and quickly forget because he is just too outrageous to be true. But the music stuck didn’t it? The sounds of Pimp C and UGK glamorized a life of awesome prostitutes that broke men at a high rate; Too Short reminded us that they were mere objects, and video after video showed women as accessories… prizes even for men with money and power.
What made it so alluring, this pimp mentality when it came to women and did it have a lasting effect on we the boys (now men) that grew up listening to it? As men we grow up with a complex relationship with women, we love mom but hate the women that break our hearts, reject us, and make us look like fools. The illusion of the pimp is a man who is beyond that; his control over his heart allows him to put his girls out on the track and no matter who she sleeps with, who she runs off with, she has no way to hurt him outside of not bringing him his money.
Misogyny was not uncool back then, it was sold as survival and who would be the most receptive to the not loving them hoes doctrine?
Music is music however and it can influence you or it can entertain you but the time where it influences us is when we are hurting. I thought I was alone in thinking this until I read PIMP by Iceberg Slim and seeing how easily the life gripped him it all began to make sense. The book was a wonderful, neutral account of an intelligent man whose life and situations led him to being a conflicted pimp who still held a portion of his soul. It is a similar conflict that goes through the man that wants to love a woman but worries so much for his heart that he only let’s her get so close to him.
The defense mechanism of refusing love is the pimp that is within us and it is the act that we put on in order to protect ourselves. How foolish does a man look when he goes all in for a woman only for her to take his money and leave him high and dry? Do you ever see that happening to a pimp? This is the connection I see with the mentality of a man that has been hurt. The connection we have with the lyrics, the swagger, and the money brings about the thought that with just a little bit of pimpin’ we can go through life without being played.See some words or phrases that you don't understand? Check out The Dragon's Lexicon.