Monday, July 22, 2013

I youtube searched all the songs Iceberg Slim name drops in his book "Pimp" and my mind was blown

In 2012 , I found myself digging thru the my closet and saw in the mix of my many random books, Iceberg Slims "Pimp" which I had stole from the library in the mid 90's. One of my favorite books due to it being a moment in Black history that is still somewhat taboo, I decided to read it for the umpteenth time which took about 2 days to complete. As I was reading I noticed all the songs Iceberg Slim name drops thruout the book. These songs were the soundtracks of his pimping days of the late 30's, 40's and 50's. When I first read the book in the mid 90's I had no access to a quick search like Youtube....But in 2012, with the click of a mousepad I could now listen to the songs that would be the background music to Iceberg Slims journey.

 And I must say,  I was taken aback. From "Gangster rap" to "Trap music", 

Rap music for decades has depicted itself as the musical manifestation of the lifestyles of those who participate in urban underworld activities. But in the 1930's and 1940's the "Trap music" of that era came in the form of Blues, Jazz and Bebop. Only instead of songs about selling dope and Muder Death Kill, the songs were about happiness being in the form of pennies falling from heaven like rain or an empty cottage being a metaphor for a failed relationship. A respect for the musical architects of yesteryear settles in listening to the musical genius of the 1930's and 1940's. I decided to read the book 1 more time in one setting with all songs in sequence playing in the background as a I read each appointed scene. There's this thing I do where when I read a book, I picture the characters as familiar faces in pop culture. I've rearranged the characters for Iceberg Slims, "Pimp" numerous times.....But reading it as of recent I captured who would be perfect playing the main characters in the form of a final cut for a big budget mental movie. For instance, From Icebergs description of his mother, I picture the warm figure of actress Monica Calhoun when she played Reebie Jackson in the Jacksons movie and her shady actions to that of when she played Ebony in the movie Players Club.

                             Original picture of Iceberg Slims Mom 


                              Iceberg Slims mom = Monica Calhoun

                                                  Young Iceberg Slim.

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                                           Milwaukee street scene in the 1930's

                                                     Iceberg slim and Partytime.

Partytime is The man who introduced Iceberg slim to street hustling as a teen and would remain a friend till death. He is described as having 'flat African features with a skull that could have been platered to a caveman. He was short, powerful, and shiney black. He was ugly yet irresistable to white woman who snuck into the Black side of town. A picture of Partytime is available online so in this case, I dont need a famous substitute to picture what he looks like.


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                          Rudy Ray Moore aka Dolemite  = Diamond Tooth 

Diamond Tooth was the broken down ex pimp who ran the gambling spot that 17 y/o Iceberg used to run errands in while living in Milwaukee. Dolemite fits this role due to him sayin out of his own mouth he is more actor then actual pimp even tho during his prime he left an impression that he really did have some pimp bones.


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                             "The Dummy" Correction Officer = Clancy Brown

Clancy Brown is perfect for playing the mute correctional officer of the infamous reformatory based on the role he played as the twisted sadistic C.O. in the movie Shawshank Redemption. 


 When It's Springtime In The Rockies:

This was Icebergs favorite tune as a kid. It was the same tune that brought him to tears due to nostalgia when he heard it blaring out of the loud speakers one night during his stint in the reformatory

                                                                     The original Pepper:


                                                                          Pepper = Beyonce

In the book, "high yellow" light skinned girls are refered to as "yellow." Pepper is described as being 25 years old, flashy, yellow and in possession of green eyes. This was the freak who turned Iceberg out sexually, answering the door in a white lace right before having sex for the first time. Pepper was the one who introcuced Iceberg to snorting coke, she was also the one who double crossed him into his first prison stint. Due to Peppers actual pictures showing a striking resemblance to Tina Knowles(Beyonce's mother), her description fits singer/actress Beyonce circa mid 2000's. 

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                                    Larry McCoy = Weeping Shorty

Weeping Shorty was the OG junkie pimp who pulled Iceberg Slims coat to the truth about Pepper. Based on his role in the movie Malcolm X, his boss status in the movie Players Club and how he became a rundown pimp by the movie Boss'n Up, the role of Weeping Shorty would thoroughly fit Larry McCoy.  Word has it that Mr McCoy was a real life pimp turned actor

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                                  Detective Dalanski = Josh Brolin

Josh Brolin fits the role of Detective Dalanski to a T based on his authoritative roles in movies such as Wall Street 2, Men In Black 3 and American Gangster

One with ears only used to current "popular music" would have to have an open mind and ear to really acknowledge how popular music of the past relied more on actual instruments and orchestration not "computer programming" which is popular in todays era.  Most people today are so used to "computer programmed music" that early Jazz/Blues and Swing music would sound "old." Again one would have to open their mind and picture themselves in the era of that time, feeling the music as the people of that time once did.  Once one can do that, then can one acknowledge the skills behind orchestration and harmony as it once was in "popular music" of the past. 


There are two main songs that set up the theme music to Iceberg Slims story. 

Duke Ellington - Mood Indigo:

 Original version:

Live version:

Extended version:

This song would be the equivalent of the "I only have eyes for you" interludes in the movie "Bronx Tale" or the theme to the movie "The Good, The Bad, The ugly." Its the song that pops up here and there the most during Iceberg Slims journey.  Its Iceberg Slims theme music. Its the background music when Iceberg walks into hottest swank joint in late 30's Chicago called The Devil's Roost. Its also the background music when his first prostitute named Phylis belly-dances for him before they have sex for the first time. This song has replay value and I noticed that while intoxicated this song is very hypnotic.  This song, I noticed, is also a theme behind a few 1930's based  "gangster" associated movies such as Harlem Nights and The Untouchables(the breifcase/bomb scene).  Even in the flick White Men Can't Jump, a story about low level conning, the opening harmony is sung by a group of old men.  Musically, one could say Duke Ellington was "the Prince of the 30's and 40's"(I came to this conclusion only to discover later that Miles Davis himself praised Prince as the "New Duke Ellington of our time." I recently saw an article were Michael Keaton also compared the late singer Prince to Duke Ellington). This song is the definition of orchestration. There's a piano intro, and then a collaboration of wind instruments then 2 wind instrument solos and Duke comes in 3rd to do a piano solo then there's a jam session that is the climax of the song, before Duke rides the song out. You're forced to pay attention to the set up of the song and a respect arises due to how the song is structured. Iceberg Slim was a functioning dope addict and I can just imagine how this song felt while 1930's heroin and coke is running thru ones veins. There are 3 versions that standout: The original version from the late 1920's.  The live version which is available on Youtube and the extended studio version.  If "Pimp" were ever to be made into a movie I could see all 3 versions being used throughout different parts. Like for instance I can see the original version being the background music while Phylis belly dances for Iceberg for the first time. I could see the live version being the background music when Iceberg Slim walks into The Devils Roost for the first time. And the extended studio version could be the music playing during the opening credits of the movie. 

Billie Holiday - Fine and Mellow

This is the second theme song of Icebergs Slims journey. Its the background music during Iceberg Slim's first encounter in the Roost as well as numerous moments when Iceberg is alone with his first prostitute, Phylis. Where "Mood Indigo" could be the "pimps" anthem, "Fine And Mellow" could be viewed as the "Whores theme music." Whitney Houston could be comparable to a modern day Billie Holiday. Again, there is intrigue picturing how this song sounded while intoxicated on quality street drugs in 1938.


Phylis the runt = Young Angel Conwell

Described as a dark runt with a pekingese face, 18, cute, stacked and takes it in all 3 holes. Phylis' description depicts a younger version of actress Angell Conwell.

                                      Ella Fitzgerald - Yellow Basket.

This was the background music playeing When Iceberg Slim encounters his first official prostitue Phylis at an underworld bar in Milwaukee called The 711 Club, where the pimps , whores and thieves dwell. This was the gangter music of the 30's.  This song was a popular Nursery Rhyme that would later go on to be a popular song courtesy of Ella.  Mariah Carey could be a comparable to a modern day Ella Fitzgerald

Charlie Parker - The Bird

One of the songs playing on the loud speakers from the Rib And Chicken joints on the busy strip as Iceberg enters Chicago for the first time (Let me add that there is something very "urban gangster" about this song).

Sarah Vaughan-Body&Soul

The earliest work I can find on Sarah Vaughan is "Body & Soul" so I'm gonna assume that the song playing during 1938 (when she was only 14) would be Body & Soul.  This would be another song playing on the loud speakers from the Rib And Chicken joints on the busy strip as Iceberg enters Chicago for the first time.  "Elegance" is the only description I can give to Sarah's voice and execution.  Toni Braxton is a good comparison to a modern day Sarah Vaughan
Emaculate is the only description I can give to Sarahs voice and execution.
Emaculate is the only description I can give to Sarahs voice and execution.
Emaculate is the only description I can give to Sarahs voice and execution.
Emaculate is the only description I can give to Sarahs voice and execution.
Emaculate is the only description I can give to Sarahs voice and execution.

Earl Hines (Billy Eckstine, vocal) - Jelly Jelly 

The earliest work I can find closest to 1938 on Billy Eckstein is what he was doing with Earl Hines.  Jelly Jelly was  a hit for Billy at the time so one can assume that this would be another song playing on the loud speaker from the Rib And Chicken joints on the busy strip as Iceberg enters Chicago for the first time. No pun intended but this song jams


                                              Old Man Preston = Wayne Dehart.

Described as a toothless, broken light skinned ex pimp. Even tho the math has him in his early 40's, Prestons image fits that of the old man doing the poetic interludes in the movie Jasons Lyric.

                      Chick Webb  - Stomping at The Savoy. 

The music playing when Iceberg Slim peeks in the window of Chicagos' Infamous underworld bar "The Roost" for the first time and sees mixed couples partying.

 Benny Goodman -  Stompin' At The Savoy

It was well known that during the swing, jazz, era a lot of Black music was jacked by Whites in which they would make their version of popular Black songs more "mainstream." Stomping At The Savoy is an example of such case. Glenn Miller jacked Chick Webbs song and made it more popular in mainstream.  You can actually hear the differences between the 2 songs because Chicks version has more "soul" while Goodmans' is more "simple."

          Selma Hayek =  The Mexican Bartender with the red cocktail dress at The Roost


                                                                Planters punch

             This was Iceberg Slims drink of choice whenever he was lounging in a bar.

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Stetsons shoes

Stetsons were the "Allen Edmonds" of the 1930's.  A sure sign of "player status."

Stacey Adams during the 1920's was making its reputation as a shoe choice for "players."

Nat King Cole Trio - Tea For Two

The music playing during Iceberg Slims first encounter at the infamous Roost

                                               Poison = Ving Rhames.

The 2nd best pimp in late 30's Chicago. He was a cop and a pimp. Described as a nut brown giant 


                                         The original Baby Bell aka Sweet Jones

Iceberg Slims mentor and #1 Pimp in late 30's early 40's Chicago until Poison would later take over as #1 pimp. In the book he is described as Tall and dark (which if there were 1 person who would be able to play him perfectly in a movie, it would be Bishop Magic Don Juan) but according to the blog "Hip Hop 101A: The Next Hustle" "Bob’s friends were still alive when he wrote that book. So he changed all of their names and descriptions." The real Sweet Jones was a notorious pimp and killer, named “Baby” Bell and is described as short fat and light skinned. "Baby Bell was a “boss player” (as those in the life would say). “Here was a black man in the 1930’s mind you, that had a stable of Oriental hoe’s that used to chauffer him around in his Duesenberg. He had a white ocelot that wore a diamond on its collar and had a long gold chain for a leash. He lived in an exclusively white area at a time when Black people didn’t do that kind of thing. He was politically connected downtown. He was virtually untouchable.”


                                                 Miss Peaches = White Ocelot

According to Iceberg Slims lost Interviews. Pimps were known to have exotic pets such as panthers, lions, cubs and even bears. Sweet Jones was always in the company of a female ocelot named Miss Peaches. And was considered the only female Sweet Jones cared for. Iceberg Slim describes her presences as that of intimidating yet awe inspiring.

                                                Mimi = Agnes Bruckner

During Iceberg Slims first encounter with Sweet Jones he is propositioned to sleep with one of Sweet Jones prostitutes who is described as a tall white blonde with green eyes. Her attitude is reminiscent of Anna Nicole Smith. Agnes Bruckner fits the description due to her playing Anna Nicole Smith in her movie bio.

Duesnberg- The Duesnberg was the Lambourgini of the 30's. Its the car Iceberg Slim watches Sweet Jones pull up in with his 5 whores and the ocelot right before their first encounter at The Roost

Billie Holiday - Pennies from Heaven.

This is the song playing when Icebeg Slim walks into the Roost for the 2nd time right before his first encounter with Sweet Jones.

The Original Satan aka GlassTop in photoshopped re-enactment scene with Iceberg Slim

                                                       Glass Top = DJ Quik 

Glass Top was a top player and pimp and took young Iceberg Slim under his wing.  He is described as tall, brown with a pretty face like a bitch. He shot up dope and there are numerous references to his processed hair. DJ Quiks background and looks fit Glass Tops' description.

 Lional Hampton - Flying Home. 

This is the background music playing in The Roost when Iceberg Slim introduces himself to Top Player pimp Glass Top  

St. Louis Jimmy Oden  -  Going Down Slow.

Considered a Blues standard, the St Louis Jimmy Oden is the earliest version that is recorded so one can assume that this is the version that was playing in 1938 during Iceberg and Glass Tops' first encounter.  


 Billy Eckstein - Cottage for sale 

This is the song playing in Glass Tops Cadillac when they head towards Glass Tops plush apartment to shoot up dope after having just introduced themselves.  This song was not originally done by Eckstein, it was already a popular song that was sung by many during its era.  R&B singer R. Kelly would be a good comparison to a modern day Billy Eckstein.


                                                         Radell =Nicole Scherzinger

Glass Tops' "Polynesian" whore who greets and serves with full cooperation. Described as having "dreamy eyes like a freakish Mona Lisa." Radells' presense and the layout of the plush apartment confirms to young Iceberg slim upon his first introduction into Glass Tops world that he is "official."


 Ink Spots - Whispering Grass 

This is the music playing In Glass Tops Plush apartment while he and Iceberg are settling in before Icebergs first encounter with injecting cocaine. The R&B group Boyz II Men would be a good comparison to a modern day Ink Spots.


 Debussy - "Clare De Lune"

While taking a stroll thru the streets of Chicago, Young Iceberg has an encounter with what is belived to be a , beautiful white woman which later turns out to be a Tranny. This song is what was playing in the background as they were settling in her/his bedroom. This song is a "mood maker." Very soothing and relaxing. 

Glenn Miller - Tuxedo junction. 

This was the background music in Sweet Jones party after the big boxing match. This is the theme music of Iceberg slims first encounter in a penthouse full of top players, gangsters, hustlers, pimps and ho's in late 30's Chicago. Its gangster party music. 

                                            Red Cora = rapper Charlie Baltimore

The whore who kept testing Iceberg Slim during Sweet Jones' boxing afterparty. Her description depicts rapper Charlie Baltimore with a scar on her face. 

                 Keisha Chante = The yellow beautiful 17 year old whore in Sweets stable

There is a moment during the afterparty when Sweet Jones bets a pimp thousands of dollars that his "Yellow beutiful 17 year old whore" can make him cum from oral sex in less then 5 minutes. The pimp loses the bet in 3 minutes.  Although this might sound like a story of an incident that might have happened to Karrine "Superhead" Steffans, she's not youthful which leaves Keisha Chante.  Keisha Chante's youtful looks, mouth shape and beautiful face look like driving forces for premature ejaculation

Rezso Seress - Gloomy Sunday. 

This was the 2nd scene background music at Sweet Jones boxing party. The folklore behind this song is that there are subliminal messages within the lyrics that cause one to commit suicide after listening to it. 


Lasalle - Iceberg Slims first car before doing "the routine pimp move" of buying a new Cadillac every year.

   1930's Cadillac.

Cadillac's and Lincoln's had the same status in the 30's and 40's as they do in 2016. The Cadillac (nicknamed "hog") was considered the ultimate pimp ride.


                                                          Ophelia = Young Taral Hicks.

Iceberg Slims 2nd official prostitute. Opelia is described as tall, pretty, brownskin and 18 years old.



                                                      Chris =   Singer Ashanti

 Iceberg Slims 3rd offical prostitute and 2nd bottom b*tch who would later become bottom b*tch. Described as yellow, pretty with big brown lustrious eyes with silky lashes. a sly hot smile, a stacked, noticable rear end , big yellow legs and Black satin hair. She was labeled by pimping Poison as "The best whore in town." She would later square up and and marry when Iceberg Slim was in the pen.  Iceberg Slim would later describe her as a "Boss Bitch."

                                                      Leroy = singer Seal.

Leroy is Chris' husband who has his wife stolen from him by Iceberg Slim. Leroys dark and scared face description is singer Seal. I pictured Seal being Leroy in 1996 and I still picture Leroy as being Seal in 2016.


                                              Jo Ann = porn actress Teanna Trump.

Iceberg Slims 4th official prostitute. She only stuck around for 90 days. She is described as being cute, 17 years old and 'yellow like Chris." 


                                              Chicago circa the War Years

                                        Carmen = porn actress Leilani Leanne

Described as a younger prettier version of Phylis...As years pass, Carmen would be the new recruit who's presence stirs the clash between Iceberg Slim and Phylis.

The original, “No Thumbs” Helen


                       “No Thumbs” Helen =  rapper Foxy Brown (circa late 90's)

Iceberg Slims whore while he resided in Indiana, Iowa and Minneapolis during his fugitive years after his 3rd stint in prison. There is no reference to her being yellow or beautiful so one would assume that she is brown with "ok" features. A little research turned up an official photo of Helen, which confirms this.  There is even a rumor that Helen was actually Iceberg Slims' first wife.  She was a master thief with a gift for seduction. Helens' status is reminiscent to that of Foxy Browns' late 90's crime raps during "The Firm era."

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                                                      Terrence Howard = New York Joe

Icebergs old friend who would later turn player hater and run him out of the small town in Ohio he had set up shop.

                                                          Rachel =  Singer Rihanna

Rachel is the first whore Iceberg Slim recruits while in Detroit after serving his 3rd stint in prison. Rachel was described as a younger green eyed version of Pepper.  Singer Rihanna is the closest thing to a younger version of Beyonce plus she has natural green eyes.   Rachel is the one who would be Iceberg Slims Bottom bitch for 13 years while a fugitive. Her reputation was that of a "boss bitch." 

                                            Serena = Porn actress Crystal Clear.

The 2nd whore Iceberg Slim recruits while in Detroit. She ran a whorehouse and is described as an elephant bitch, huge and Black with a 46 inch bust.

Aliana Love and Jazmine Cashmere  =  The 3rd and 4th unnamed whores Iceberg Slim recruits while in Detroit

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                                               Kim = Porn actress Lacey Duvall.  

The 5th whore Iceberg slims recruits while in Detroit. Kim is the one who tests Iceberg Slim in front of his stable in the beginning of the book. She's described as being young, yellow, pretty and a pimps dream. This is Lacey Duvall circa mid 2000's. 

         Ice T and CoCo = The New York Con Man and his "white Jasper"

Ice T is originally from NJ so his accent can pass for a New Yorker.  Ice T and CoCo fit the description of these 2 hustlers to a T. 



                                      Stacy = Porn actress Skin Diamond. 

"The young hash-slinger." Described as young and gorgeous.  Rachel and Stacy were the last ones holding Iceberg Slim down while he was a fugitive after having escaped prison some 13 years prior.

                                                       Bet'em Big = Samuel Jackson 

Iceberg and Bet'Em Big hit it off as soon as they met. Samuel Jackson comes off as the type of person that would have no problem being able to mingle with a street hustler on the spot. 

Thinking back to the early 90's when I would hear, for the first time, an original song that a popular Hip Hop song had sampled.  It made me admire the original song that much more to the point that I would get into the artist that did the original song.  My glimpse into the 1930's, 40's and 50's courtesy of Iceberg Slims classic urban novel "Pimp",  has given me newfound admiration, as well as educated me on the history of American pop and urban music.


  1. You did pretty good with this but I didn't see mood indigo.,i listen to book everyday it's like someone telling you old stories you never get tired of

    1. Thanks for the feedback. Mood Indigo was actually embeded but the original video was removed by Youtube. I have since replaced it.

  2. I love your all-encompassing search for the reality of Iceberg Slim's world. I am completely not of the pimp world, but I am a fan of Joan Crawford --- and the impulse to re-create her world and music have been exactly the same with me as a webmaster. You did a great job here.