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Pimps Up, Ho's Down

Hip Hop's Hold on Young Black Women

T. Sharpley-Whiting

Publication Year: 2007

2007 Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association Emily Toth Award

Pimps Up, Ho’s Down pulls at the threads of the intricately knotted issues surrounding young black women and hip hop culture. What unravels for Tracy D. Sharpley-Whiting is a new, and problematic, politics of gender. In this fascinating and forceful book, Sharpley-Whiting, a feminist writer who is a member of the hip hop generation, interrogates the complexities of young black women's engagement with a culture that is masculinist, misogynistic, and frequently mystifying.

Beyond their portrayal in rap lyrics, the display of black women in music videos, television, film, fashion, and on the Internet is indispensable to the mass media engineered appeal of hip hop culture, the author argues. And the commercial trafficking in the images and behaviors associated with hip hop has made them appear normal, acceptable, and entertaining - both in the U.S. and around the world.

Sharpley-Whiting questions the impacts of hip hop's increasing alliance with the sex industry, the rise of groupie culture in the hip hop world, the impact of hip hop's compulsory heterosexual culture on young black women, and the permeation of the hip hop ethos into young black women's conceptions of love and romance.

The author knows her subject from the inside. Coming of age in the midst of hip hop's evolution in the late 1980s, she mixed her graduate studies with work as a runway and print model in the 1990s. Her book features interviews with exotic dancers, black hip hop groupies, and hip hop generation members Jacklyn “Diva” Bush, rapper Trina, and filmmaker Aishah Simmons, along with the voices of many “everyday” young women.

Pimps Up, Ho’s Down turns down the volume and amplifies the substance of discussions about hip hop culture and to provide a space for young black women to be heard.

Published by: NYU Press


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p. v

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pp. vii-viii

There are many people who have assisted me in writing this book. There were times when I had just had enough and those individuals offered support, encouragement, and feedback. I would like to thank my editor, Eric Zinner, Emily Park, as well as the production and marketing team at NYU Press. ...

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Prologue: Sex, Power, and Punanny

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pp. ix-xviii

In mid-December 1992, Dr. Dre’s The Chronic dropped. Snoop Dogg with his southern drawl reminded me of home—St. Louis—before names like Nellyville and The Lou caught on. St. Louis has a markedly southern-derived black culture thanks to the black migration from the rural South to cities up north ...

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Introduction: Pimpin Ain't Easy, But Somebody's Got to Do It

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pp. 1-22

When hip hop impresario Russell Simmons appeared at Hamilton College for an evening lecture on “Hip Hop, Culture, and Politics” in April 2004, no one could have anticipated the fallout. Simmons, considered a veritable maverick in the hip hop industry, cofounded with Rick Rubin the highly successful ...

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“ I See the Same Ho”: Video Vixens, Beauty Culture, and Diasporic Sex Tourism

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pp. 23-52

When Michelle “Micki” Burks decided to take on the role of eye candy in the now-defunct rap-reggae group Ruff Neck Sound System’s music videos “Stick by Me” and “Luv Bump,” little did she know that her decision would land her years later in the category of “video ho.” Her performances in the music videos ...

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Too Hot To Be Bothered: Black Women and Sexual Abuse

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pp. 53-84

"Have you seen the tape?” a rather smart female student inquired of the R. Kelly tape. “That was him! And that was obviously a very young girl. She had to ask him for sexual directives!” But no sooner than I had proceeded to lecture about interstate trafficking of child pornography ...

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“ I’m a Hustla, Baby”: Groupie Love and the Hip Hop Star

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pp. 85-114

Every generation of artists has its followers and fans. However, groupies are a world apart. And with the increasing popularity of hip hop and the coarsening of mainstream taste manifested by the public’s tolerance for sexist obscenity and misogynist pornography on wax marketed as entertainment, ...

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Strip Tails: Booty Clappin', P-poppin', Shake Dancing

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pp. 115-148

Magic City is a place that effortlessly marries sexual fantasy and one-stop shopping for hip hop record deals and video vixens. It is the hot spot where aspiring rappers attempt to toss their latest studio products into the hands of the likes of Jermaine Dupri, Executive Vice President of Urban Music at Virgin, ...

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Coda: or a Few Last Words on Hip Hop and Feminism

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pp. 149-156

This book has now come full circle. Where we began with a discussion of hip hop and feminism, it seems only appropriate to conclude where we began, namely by revisiting these polemics surrounding feminism— where it intersects and faces off with hip hop and how young black women dicker with them both. ...


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pp. 157-166

Index and About the Author

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pp. 167-187

E-ISBN-13: 9780814786505
E-ISBN-10: 0814786502
Print-ISBN-13: 9780814740149
Print-ISBN-10: 0814740146

Page Count: 200
Publication Year: 2007

OCLC Number: 173511800
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Pimps Up, Ho's Down

Research Areas


Subject Headings

  • Hip-hop -- Social aspects.
  • African American women -- Interviews.
  • Young women -- United States -- Interviews.
  • African American women -- Social conditions.
  • Young women -- United States -- Social conditions.
  • United States -- Social conditions -- 1980-.
  • Sex role -- Political aspects -- United States.
  • Sexism -- United States.
  • African American women -- Psychology.
  • Young women -- United States -- Psychology.
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