I am slightly conflicted about recommending the pimp poetry spoken word gem Reflections by Iceberg Slim. It has become a favorite of Jim and mine since we came across it and became intrigued during our last Amoeba trip but it’s definitely not pc. It contains offensive material to nearly everyone (women and homosexuals getting the worst of it) but both the work and the man behind it is more complex than that. Slim, born Robert Beck, was an actual pimp for most of his young life and after a long prison sentence, decided to write about his life experiences. The result was the cult classic (though largely ignored) book, Pimp: The Story of My Life. Long before the gangsta rap that spoke of the violence and brutality of the streets, Slim was using his life as inspiration for eye opening and disturbing truths.
Reflections is his sing songy spoken word version of that rough life but accompanied by the Red Holloway Quartet, it’s also addictive, jazzy and strangely calming (kind of like a beatnik Dr. Seuss from a pimps point of view) and is unlike anything else you’re likely to have in your library. If you can get past the content and take it as one man’s experiences concerning a certain dark lifestyle, which by the way is always eloquent and often poignant and heartbreaking, this could be one of the greatest albums you’ll discover this year if only for the undeniable smoothness of his incredible voice.