It’s hard out here for a pimp

Kevin Clark

It’s funny how much influence and power music has. Who would’ve believed that a song could create so much dialogue within the black community?

Now the secret is out that it is, indeed, hard for a pimp out here in these streets. I mean, I am struggling on the daily, and no one knew my story until Three Six Mafia told it during the Oscars.

The group probably would’ve never expected to be nominated and to be the first rap group to ever perform at the acclaimed awards ceremony.

But with that performance also comes the controversy.

The song “It’s Hard Out Here for a Pimp” made a lot of black folks mad. Those same black folks (who went to see Hustle & Flow) believe the dark hand of covert racism is at work – that it is a portrayal of us as the living embodiment of the minstrel show, minus the black shoe polish.

Three Six Mafia, which later won an Oscar for the song, was happy to win – complete with Southern hip-hop requisite attire: gold teeth, baggy clothes and sunglasses.

But I ask this question: Should we applaud the accomplishment or ridicule the gesture? The Memphis rap group has been in the game for 14 years. Without a doubt, this has been the best year of their career. But should the Academy’s nomination for a song about a pimp make us happy about the times or upset that they haven’t changed at all?

I believe that is where the outpour of criticism is coming from. Those “down home boys” from the South were being the same people they’ve been since the beginning. Are we more upset with them for who they appear to be or at the message being broadcasted through the airwaves?

Is that image portrayed even real? Is Three Six Mafia really the embodiment of their public personas? The hip-hop “image” that has been marketed and sold for the last 18 years has not really deviated from its social construct. You can see the college-educated “thugs” on campus who want to appear as a certain image, yet are sitting right next to you, taking notes in Psych 101.

In the words of former Black United Students president DaMareo Cooper, “We’re not keeping it real; we’re keeping it peer pressure.”

Kevin L. Clark is a sophomore journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. You can contact him at [email protected].