Damon Hodge Thu, Jan 25, 2007 (midnight) Listen up, people: I'm a hip as the next guy dipped in Sean John, sporting mouth bling and bumping Nas' Hip Hop is Dead (okay, only descriptors one and three are true; I'm hip enough not to need mouth bling). I'm down with the get down, cool as a fan, in it to win it, fresh to def, fly-er than FedEx, my ghetto pass ain't been revoked, I'm the man 'round here (editor's note: It's true!), I can bring it like it sing it, and I'm real nucka who knows wat da bidness iz. But what I can't wrap my brain around is how the word pimp has assumed celebratory connotation. Fifty-eight years after the United Nations approved one of its more practical conventions—stating that prostitution is incompatible with human dignity, no shit, Sherlock—pimps are stars, praised in books by Donald Goines, the focus of documentaries such as American Pimp and sought-after sidekicks to famous rappers. Everywhere Snoop Dogg goes, Bishop Don "Magic" Juan is sure to follow. And to pimp something now is generally a good thing, or least not such a bad thing. Peep all the usages: California rapper E-40 uses it as a noun/term of endearment, as in "What's up, Pimpin?" Which probably shouldn't be said in an office setting, too loudly near Fremont Street or in the vicinity of a police station. Users of MySpace, Facebook and other self-promotion websites have been dubbed Internet-portal pimps. To pimp your vehicle is to beautify it, to present it with flash and style. But you can also pimp your name, your body, snacks, clothing, computers, your employer, relatives, boyfriends, girlfriends, sex partners, your parents—think elaborate Sweet 16 B-day parties. Paris Hilton pimps her ass-ets, rather effectively and expensively, I might add. As if our 4,000 annual prostitution arrests aren't enough, Vegas hosts a yearly Pimp 'n' Ho Ball—a fun time, I hear. In 2005, Pimpin Since Pimpin Inc., parent company of Pimp Candy—these are real companies, I kid you not—teamed with the Palms on the Pimp Candy Pole Pool Party competition.About the only negative connotation is that of pimping the system—welfare fraud, campaign-finance-skirting 527s, using sick leave to take vacations. Hey, pimpin' ain't easy. Seems we've forgotten that pimping (with a "g") is another form of slavery: massa controls women and teenage boys and girls through manipulation, intimidation and violence, reaping the spoils of their hard and often dangerous work. Just as slaves could leave the life—at risk of recapture or death—prostitutes can, too. But job prospects for both were/are dim. But don't pay me no never mind. My bitchin' probably won't dent the popularity of MTV's Pimp My Ride, which tricks out (get it, tricks?) vehicles with unneeded, attention-redirecting gadgets—waterfalls, video-game systems, 22-inch chrome rims—that increase the driver's chances of A) getting into an accident; and B) getting car-jacked. According to Lil Jon, the bullhorn-voiced Atlanta rapper in desperate need of a tonsillectomy, a Pimp Cup, basically a funny-shaped glass adorned with faux diamonds, is the Rolex of chalices. Apparently it's super pimp to put real diamonds on that bad boy or similarly to decorate a Blackberry, iPod or necklace. Let's not forget the beer-without-hops-tasting sports drink, PIMP Juice, from rapper Nelly. To pimp-slap the naysayers, the Nell-ster contrived the lamest acronym this side of NAMBLA, saying PIMP stands for Positive Intelligent Motivated Person. Ingenious? No. Ignoble. Yes. It's almost as wack as Tupac's nigga acronym—Never Ignorant Getting Goals Accomplished. Unbelievable. Just imagine the water-cooler talk: "Boss says I'm not management material. Little does he know I'm a real pimp and a true nigga. Word up!" Maybe I should just embrace pimpin'. We're all pimps in some way—taking and not giving back, brandishing our self-images, manipulating people and situations. So next time you see me, greet me in due fashion and say, "What's up, Pimpin'?"
Karine Jean-Pierre makes history in White House briefing room