Jay-Z featuring UGK – “Big Pimpin'”

Released: 4.11.00

Peak: #18

Only a cold-blooded motherfucker like Shawn Carter would consider “I got no passion” a boast, as though all men would strive for his icy cocksmanship if only they had the sac or the scrilla. But if wallow in pimp chic we must, better Jay’s arrogant and upfront misogyny than Snoop’s cutesy PG deceptions (forget about Dre). Rap’s he-man-woman-hater ethos never hit the radio in such a undiluted form, and any careless hoe who signs on for a ride can’t complain the callousness was buried in the fine print.

All of this is n/a to Lady B, of course. We now “know” Jigga was “just” acting back when, since he indeed did give his heart over to Beyonce. Expressing distaste for the Y-chromosome-deficient was just a way to flex his lyrical art (insert rote “Talib Kweli” disclaimer rhyme here about skills not shifting units). So let’s just say that his act was very convincing. And hell, if Yeats and Eliot get a pass, who am I to bump Jay out of the canon. After all, hip-hop heads have never minded the idea that content is cleanly severable from form–makes the sexism go easier to swallow, though once dumb ass southerners failed to temper their spew with lyricism, the impulse to spit grew stronger.

Pimps being the capitalist management class writ small, it’s no wonder an MC who bragged of being “a pimp in every sense of the word” (and that word denoted far too much over the course of the decade) would proceed to a Def Jam desk job. But to be fair, even before Rihanna and the Roots, Jay was a sharp talent scout. Sensing the ascendance of the South, he sought out some actual rhymers, rather than strip club shouters. And if UGK don’t show up their host–students of prosody could spend a full lecture hour dissecting “On a canopy/ My stamina be/ Enough for Pamela Anderson Lee”–Bun B’s hungry rhymes offer a telling contrast to Jay’s impeccable smugness, and Pimp C finds more delight in snideness.

Not that this display of skills would amount to much without Timbaland’s middle-eastern bump, which swiped the Egyptian composer Baligh Hamdi’s “Khosara” (though to no legal detriment) and highlights the difference between a beat and a production. “Big Pimpin'” unfurls with a high-roller’s imperialist luxuriance, suggesting not some smoke-choked Cairo underworld club but rather a private Dubai archipelago. Did I call Jay a sharp talent scout? Maybe he just knows how to accessorize. (And, no, I’m not talking about that dumb, floppy Gilligan hat.)

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  • Craig B  On January 15, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    This blog is freaking awesome. I’m finally hearing the music that made all these people sooooo culturally relevant. 10 years later. Luv it

  • usefulnoise  On January 15, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Finally, this information if available on the internet!

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