Pimp juice: Profiles of the African-American pimp in popular culture

2010 2010

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Abstract (summary)

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.

Indexing (details)

African American Studies;
Black history;
American literature;
Film studies
0296: African American Studies
0328: Black history
0591: American literature
0900: Film studies
Identifier / keyword
Communication and the arts; Social sciences; Language, literature and linguistics; Campus, Michael; Cimber, Matt; Goines, Donald; Iceberg Slim; Moses, Gilbert
Pimp juice: Profiles of the African-American pimp in popular culture
Rose, Kimberly
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
MAI 49/04M, Masters Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Peskin, Lawrence
Committee member
Cripps, Thomas; Morrow, Robert
Morgan State University
History and Geography
University location
United States -- Maryland
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
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