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Iceberg Slim: Life lessons from a pimp-turned-luminary

Justin Gifford on the controversial writer who Jay-Z, Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle all cite as a major influence.
Justin Gifford's new biography "Street Poison: The Biography of Iceberg Slim" explores the life of Robert Beck, aka Iceberg Slim. (Illustration: Ben Shannon/Background: Thomas Favre-Bulle)

Jay-Z, Ice Cube, Chris Rock and Dave Chapelle all cite Iceberg Slim as a major influence — but the controversial writer's work has also circulated in jail cells, barber shops and army barracks for decades. 

His "massive underground success" has had a lasting impact on the mainstream, argues Justin Gifford. The academic and biographer joins Shad to challenge the image of Slim as a misogynistic pimp, and to chronicle his contributions to pop culture. 

Gifford, author of the new book Street Poison: The Biography of Iceberg Slim, also argues that Slim's work is worthy of study. 

WEB EXTRA | Hear the first chapter of Iceberg Slim's memoir, Pimp: The Story of My Life, as narrated by Cary Hite — a book so deep in slang that it required a glossary. Warning: The clip features explicit language and sexual references. 

 
 

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