A Critic’s Meta-Review: 5/5

PIMP: The Story Of My Life by Iceberg Slim (REVIEW)

Do not let the title fool you—this is not a tale of braggadocio. This is a heartbreaking story about a confused little boy who took a few wrong turns while trekking through life and ended up in one of the slimmest (and yet one of the oldest) trades—the pimp game.

Now, in case you have bought into all of the lustres that surrounds the idea of being a pimp that has been promoted by hip-hop artists who have, for the most part, had absolutely no experience in the cold world of facilitating the turning of tricks for cash, let this book be a warning to you: being a pimp is not a glamorous affair. There is a reason why Iceberg Slim (real name Robert Maupin) ended up moving in with his mama after finishing up his bid in the pen — the pimp game will chew you up and spit you out like a salty tangerine.

But it ain’t just the pimp game that will do that to you; indeed, through reading this book, you will surely come to notice some similarities between the pimp game and pretty much every other game there is — from show business to yo’ business (whatever it may be). As Dave Chappelle talked about in the second installment of what I consider to be one of his finest specials - Equanimity/The Bird Revelation - though based on actual life events that took place during Iceberg Slim’s life, this whole book can essentially be viewed as a symbolic narrative detailing the horrifying realities of capitalism.

Beyond serving as a cautionary tale, however, this book also has some sound advice to offer throughout its pages — particularly for young men just now beginning to navigate the world of thieves, liars, and snakes. One of the best pieces of advice in the whole book comes pretty early on from one of the older pimps who had taken young Slim under his wing (I can’t remember his name, but I’m sure it was something stupid like Big Corn Dawg or Deep Dish Daddy [actually...if that one isn’t taken I would like to adopt it as my moniker for the foreseeable future]):

You gotta make like you don’t even have a swipe. You gotta keep your mind on the scratch. Stay cold and brutal, cop your scratch first; don’t let them Georgia you. They’ll laugh at you. They’ll cut you loose like a trick after they flim-flammed you. Your scratch cop is the only way to put a hook in their stinkin’ asses.

For those of you that are not fluent in pimpology (Lord knows I wasn’t until I got to flipping through the glossary section of this book, which is a goldmine of terms and phrases that I wish I had known about when I was a young buck), allow me to translate what you have just read into a more decipherable dialect:

You must conduct yourself as if you do not even possess a reproductive organ. You must remain focused on the acquisition of income. Do not fall victim for the tricks of confidence building manipulators, for they are only trying to build you up so they can break you down. This is why you must keep your sights set on the continuous acquisition of income, for financial independence is the only way to show those suckers who is really boss.

I hope that this made a bit more sense.

You will learn a lot from reading this book. This I can guarantee. For that, the word “canon” refers to a pickpocket, for instance, or that a pacifier bulb — the rubber part of a baby’s binky — is commonly used by heroin addicts to draw up blood through the eye dropper.

But it’s not all just about learning. That is not the only reason why we read books. It is an inevitable benefit of reading books, but it is not the main reason we read books. We read books to be entertained — to be impressed by the author’s mastery of the written word. Well, Slim’s got it down to a science.

Some gems:

“The guilty daydreams on the heels of the nightmares were torturing my skull.”

“He gave me a grin like he had just swallowed a bottle of snot.”

“I was as excited as a crumb-crusher (young child) at Christmas time.”

“Don’t worry about the rain...walk between the raindrops.”

“Ain’t you afraid I’ll salt & pepper you and eat you raw?”

“The razor edge of consciousness hamstrung my thoughts.”

“Her eyes were blue bonfires of passion.”

“He’d twist my skull off and play soccer with it.”

“Was I about to cop my first whore? My crotch was fluttery at the thought of it.”

“My peepers (eyes) jacked off at the sight.”

“She can do more with a swipe (willie) than a monkey can do with a banana... she’s like a rubber doll!”

It’s a cold world out there, y’all. Make yourselves aware of it before it’s too late for you.

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