âPortrait of a Pimpâ Uncovers Iceberg Slim<br />

‘Portrait of a Pimp’ Uncovers Iceberg Slim

From ‘Pimp’ to ‘Airtight Willie & Me,’ this street lit pioneer brought gritty ’hood realities to Black novels

Michael A. Gonzales

by Michael A. Gonzales, July 19, 2013

âPortrait of a Pimpâ Uncovers Iceberg Slim<br />

Cool as Ice...

Widow as his favorite Iceberg book, couldn’t agree more. “Slim’s books have a dark heart, but his characters are timeless,” Gerald says. “His take on the ways of the street was beyond cool, and often a little sad.”

Unfortunately, because of bad contracts and alleged shady dealings, Iceberg Slim died penniless on April 30, 1992. His friend Mike Tyson, who went to Iceberg for marriage advice, gave him money in advance to pay for the funeral.   

In 2011, when the rights for Iceberg’s mack daddy tomes reverted to his three daughters, Gerald was influential in getting them a new publishing deal with Cash Money Content. “[Cash Money’s Bryan ‘Birdman’ Williams and Ronald ‘Slim’ Williams] were, of course, familiar with Iceberg’s books, and they were thrilled to be involved,” Gerald says.

Back in 1999, after the success of Soul Souljah’s wildfire-success novel The Coldest Winter Ever, a new generation of authors began writing about their ’hoods from a hip-hop perspective.

“Iceberg Slim is the grandfather of street hip-hop lit,” says Washington, D.C. based novelist Kenji Jasper. “He told stories about the urban underbelly before such a term even existed. To look back at it now, he gave three-dimensional shape to the worlds of pimps, pushers and prostitutes that required a circumspect kind of vision that most brothers of that era probably didn’t have.”

Says director Hinojosa, “My goal with this project was to not just show a snapshot of Iceberg, but the full spectrum of his life.” Going from pimping women to pimping the page, Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp is a must-see for both players and lames.

Iceberg Slim: Portrait of a Pimp opens Friday, July 19, 2013 in New York and other select cities. The film is also available on iTunes.

Cultural critic Michael A. Gonzales has written cover stories for VibeUptownEssenceXXL, Wax Poetics and elsewhere. He's also written for New York and The Village Voice. Read him at Blackadelic Pop and follow him on Twitter @gonzomike.

More great reads from Michael A. Gonzales


Related Tags

Ice-T iceberg slim
Stay in the Know
Sign up for the Ebony Newsletter