*The word legendary is often confused with the word infamous, but in the case of the late author and former pimp Iceberg Slim whether he is the former or the later is one for the scholars to debate.
His legacy is interwoven in the tapestry of modern street-lore and hip-hop unlike any other single single figure born before 1925. Recently, I had the chance to speak with Misty Beck, the youngest daughter of Slim. I asked her how was she able to reconcile the memory of harsh reality of her father’s life with her personal memories of him as a father and husband.
“If you go back a few years it probably wasn’t the kind of thing that would be publicized in a positive light,” said Beck of her father’s former occupation. “I don’t want to say pimping is new school but you can see how people have used it in their campaign. It kind of has become a mainstream term. My father has inspired music for many years going back to Ice Cube and people like that. It’s so much more accepted now.”
The image of a weak black woman being dominated by a domineering gorilla pimp is a ugly realism of the streets. I ask Beck what was her age when she finally grasped that reality.
“It was around 1984 and that was the first time I read my father’s autobiography,” she explained. “Being a 14 year old girl, it was kind of shocking to read about the kind of life he lead. It didn’t mirror the man that I knew. Being a father, I felt he was no longer a pimp when I was born. It was disturbing. It took a few years. It probably took up to the moment he died that I reconciled the man with the life he lead.”
“He was such a open and loving person to me and my sisters,” continued Beck. “I think that after years, obviously I’ve read all the books now, he survived that life. To come out and have books that are out there and still being read by the public. You felt like he did something with this horrible life he chose to lead.”
Despite the image of Iceberg Slim being a catalyst of urban culture for nearly 50 years, his descendants have been fighting to gain control of his intellectual properties almost since his death in 1992.
“There were some problems that we saw with royalty money coming and things like that and it took us five years to obtain the rights to the catalog,” said Misty. “When we got the catalog and it was all in hand, we got a literary agent who introduced us to Cash Money. My Dad’s books were some of the first books released from Cash Money Content. My favorite book is my father’s autobiography ‘Pimp’. I appreciated all his work.”
There was some speculation a decade or so ago when the then A-list hot actor/director Ice Cube was supposed to be putting all the paperwork together to bring Iceberg to the big screen. That, like most other Iceberg projects, fell to the wayside.
“Ice Cube attempted to adapt stuff from ‘Pimp’ where he was going to play my father, they were even in the middle of writing a script and our legal trouble just started sparking up with (publisher) Holloway House,” Misty told EURweb. “My sisters didn’t want to sign off on it because we didn’t have a hold on how we were getting our royalties. We were trying to renegotiate and that’s what stopped the Ice Cube film.”
Though there’s nothing specifically about Robert Lee Beck’s life on the big screen, there are many other works inspired by his legacy on the pimping hustle.
“Ice T just finished a documentary called ‘Portrait of a Pimp.’ It’s not a major feature film but its an extraordinary piece. It’s a 90 minute documentary. I have to say it should be in the movies, but they’re in the process of shopping it.”
Earlier this month Cash Money Content and Atria released the Iceberg Slim Collection: the first collection of ebooks from Iceberg Slim. Available for release are “Pimp”, “Long White Con”, and “Trick Baby.” Misty says she is currently writing a book about being the daughter of a pimp and that it is just past the half way mark.