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Pockets Dumb Fat

Maybe when he retires, Suga will see the downside of the pimp game.
Κείμενο Jon Caramanica

Suga Free

Dude named Crazy Crook calls into Hot 97's "Street Soldiers" the other night, when they've got a special show devoted to gangs and hip-hop. "All these niggas out there banging in these rap videos," he wondered, "I just wanna know: Is they real with it?" Nice message for the kids there, CC, but the theory-praxis divide is worth examining. Right now, the only thing more played out in rap than flag-waving (I see you, Capo!) is that second-oldest profession on the planet. 50 acronymized it, sort of, and then Nelly did too—Positive Intellectual Motivated Person—ostensibly to push scholarships but really to hustle his energy drink. I'm sure all the cats in the Hughes Brothers' documentary American Pimp thought of themselves as positive intellectual motivated people. But I'm equally sure that they're looking at all the pimpnosis in pop culture and wondering: Is they real with it? Fuck a magic stick: It's hard to be a legend in two games like Pee Wee Kirkland. Ask Suga Free, the man with the best-pressed hair in hip-hop. He calculates his age in dog years, and even his mom co-signs his pimping, which he was doing before he found a paycheck rapping. "When you're a pimp, you got a certain eye and [the hoes] just show up," he said in a recent interview. "The majority of the hoes know the hoe game and they know I know my pimp game, so they just roll with me and have a good time and be happy—[but] pimpin' is just so up and down, you know—rapping is how I get my real paycheck." Suga's guested on over 30 albums since dropping his debut, Street Gospel. Last year he dropped his followup, The New Testament: The Truth (Laneway/Bungalo). Suga raps what he knows: "Y'all video pimps and studio players take heed/These fans ain't stupid, player, so leave this part to Suga Free/I been checking traps since I was 17 years old/And been frosted like this to work my bitch ‘cause I feel cold." Too $hort might have popularized the pimp rap and might have provided the post-Mack soundtrack for many a flesh transaction. But his game is borrowed, something evident from the sheer aggravation Suga Free displays—"Bitch, I'll beat your ass like your mama!"—and the phenomenally breezy pimp talk: "I didn't ask to be cool/Cool asked to be Suga Free." Suga doesn't get too preoccupied with the psychological impact of pimping—as C-Note in American Pimp put it, "I don't steal nuthin' but a bitch's mind"—but has thoroughly internalized the psychodynamic of the life. On "Angry Enuff," he insists, "This pimpin' is theraputic," even though, on "Born Again," he fesses to the stresses: "I got knocked, gonna get knocked, de-knocked, re-knocked." (YZ—he of "The Ghetto's Been Good to Me" fame—is the only artist to ever admit to me that he had the strip slick, in a manner of speaking. The Legend of Floyd Jones, his most recent album, is an ode to the art. Or is that science?) DJ Quik produced most of Testament as if it were a postcard to Dr. Dre: "Andre, it's David, writing you from the G-Funk Era. Remember you used to vacation here? Muthafucka, I live here. We stay conked." In the hands of Quik and Suga, pimping sounds like the most relaxing thing possible, on "Don't Fight The Pimpin'" and the surreal electro number "Yo Mamma Yo Daddy," in particular. Maybe when he retires, Suga will see the downside of the pimp game, just like O.G. Fillmore Slim has. Back in the 70s, Slim had the strip on lock, but time wore him down. He lost one of his girls to a serial killer. Eventually, on the heels of his appearance in "American Pimp," he restarted a blues career he'd abandoned four decades prior. Funky Mama's House (Fedora) is his second album and is notable for the been-there-sold-that number "Street Walker": "Get your money, girl! Don't take no wooden nickels!" OK, grandpa! Even weirder are songs like "Those Lonely, Lonely Nights"—you mean pimps get their hearts broken? Full-time Snoop hanger-on and sometime VH1 commentator Bishop Don Magic Juan was meant to have a compilation album out last year, but it never materialized. At the end of "American Pimp," they show footage of one of the reformed pimps, Danny Brown, who's channeled his world-weariness into the more publicly acceptable outlet of the blues. He's singing to a mostly empty room, but it's not all bad. The gig is good, he muses, because "I can wear the same clothes [as before]." Preach! JON CARAMANICA
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