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Well-known as the literary progenitor of gangster rap (Ice-T, Ice Cube and Jay-Z have all listed him as a formative influence), mostly for his groundbreaking autobiography of the subject "Pimping" on vinyl.
Born Robert Lee Maupin, in Chicago on August 4, 1918, he spent his childhood in Milwaukee and Rockford, Illinois until he returned to Chicago. When his mother was abandoned by his father she established a beauty shop and worked as a domestic to support both of them in Milwaukee. In his autobiography Robert expressed gratitude that his mother didn't abandon him as well. She earned enough money working in her salon to give her son the privileges of a middle-class life like a college education, which at that time was not an option for the average person. He attended Tuskegee University, but dropped out when he found he could make money being a pimp. His mother had wanted him to be a lawyer, but Robert, seeing the pimps bringing women into his mothers beauty salon was far more attracted to the model of money and control over women that the pimps provided.
Iceberg Slim was reborn an artist after age 40. His third, and harshest prison sentence - 10 months in steel solitary at the Cook County House of Corrections - finally crushed the pimp right out of him. Vilifying past predatory values, he exorcised his demons into folklore, leaving it inside a vinyl record and creating a future legacy. His only LP contained warnings against the "Pimp" life, but Iceberg’s masterpiece only bolstered pimp liberation amidst the blaxploitation movie craze. In Times Square, for instance, a hundred fur-coated Superflys lorded over a thousand streetwalkers, taking renegade control of 8th Avenue. For them, Iceberg declassified the sorcery of whore control and became a audio diary for wannabe’s, and lent ethnic pride to the hideous profession.
"Reflections" still holds as perhaps the greatest chronicle ever vocalized about male-female relations. In the flush of audio success, white feminist-journalist types sought out interviews like intellectual groupies. Pimp philosophy, Iceberg believed, might be adapted to mainstream relationships. “My theory is that some quantum of pimp in every man would perhaps enhance his approach to women,” he told the Washington Post. “Because I think it’s a truism that women gravitate to a man who can at least flash transient evidence of heelism. . . Women are prone to masochism, anyway. I think if you are able to manufacture a bit of ‘heelism’ in your nature and give them a sense of insecurity as to whether some voluptuous rival might come along and steal you, then you are a treasured jewel.”
He also wrote an autobiography "Pimp: The Story of My Life"