Pimp Juice: Profiles Of The African-American Popular Culture Pimp
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Type of WorkText
DepartmentHistory and Geography
ProgramMaster of Arts
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The African-American pimp in popular culture emerged as an iconic folk hero around 1970, at the intersection of the Civil Rights and Black Power movements. While rooted in minstrel traditions, that is, racist images of blacks created by whites, the pimp was a product of a cultural shift in which blacks became active participants in creating these images. In fact, by the late 1980s, the pop culture pimp maintained much of his stereotypical identity and was perpetuated proudly by black creators through rap music. The global influence of rap music further catapulted the word `pimp' to a colloquial popular culture reference. This study explores the factors that contributed to the emergence and popularity of the black pimp image, particularly in film and literature around 1970. An in-depth analysis of prominent pop culture pimps featured in two popular books: Pimp: The Story of My Life by Iceberg Slim (1969) and Whoreson by Donald Goines (1971); and three movies: The Mack (1973), Willie Dynamite (1974), and Candy Tangerine Man (1975) presents the historical evolution, profile and influence of the pimp image. It concludes that despite the abuse of black women and criminal intent of the pimp, black audiences celebrated the illusion of victory over white oppression that the pimp projected. Ironically, rappers who were profitable music-business commodities adopted the pimp image in the 1980s within a white-owned pop culture institution that encouraged black artists to project the immoral pimp persona for the same reason. The most significant contributions of this study are the identification of the emergence of the pop culture pimp in the late 1960s, a profile of the pimp narrative, and the connection to the re-emergence and proliferation of the image in rap music.