IT AIN’T THAT HARD OUT HERE FOR A PIMP:
SOAKING UP GAME WITH PIMPIN’ KEN
By Khalid Strickland a.k.a. Dirty Angel
Internationally known, nationally recognized & locally accepted.
In their catchy Oscar award-winning song, crunk rappers Three-6 Mafia claim, “It’s Hard Out Here For A Pimp”. But after meeting Milwaukee’s own Ken Ivey, known to the world as Pimpin’ Ken, I’m not so sure about Three-6’s observation. Pimpin’ Ken’s chunky jewelry, Versace shades, custom-made Italian suit and extravagant gator shoes aren’t the products of hard times.
There were a lot of flashy characters in HBO’s cult-classic “Pimps Up, Hoes Down” (1998), a documentary that explored the world of voluptuous hookers and their slick-talking, Rolls Royce-pushing “managers”. Even among this flamboyant bunch, Pimpin’ Ken stood out; at the end of the film, Ken won the coveted “Mack of the Year” award at the annual Player’s Ball. Now the man who declared that he’s “internationally known, nationally recognized and locally accepted” currently has a how-to guide in the bookstores. “Pimpology: The 48 Laws of the Game” marks Ken’s foray into the literary world, and the book contains nuggets of wisdom that can be applied anywhere from the streets to the corporate boardroom (mink coat and cane not included). Some of the laws in the book, which can be found in Barnes & Noble’s “self-help” section (fo’real), include “Prosperity Over Popularity”, “Grind For Your Shine” and my personal fave, “Don’t Chase ‘Em, Replace ‘Em”. Pimpin’ Ken also teamed up with rapper Pimp C of UGK to release a straight-to-DVD documentary called “Best of Both Worlds: When Pimpin’ & Hip-Hop Merge”. The flick features rappers and pimps discussing “the game” from both perspectives, with real-life pimps expressing their feelings on emcees who claim their profession. “Best of Both Worlds” features appearances by 50 Cent, T.I., Young Buck, Rick Ross, Yukmouth and many other notable artists.
Although he says he’s no longer active in the pimp game, Ken Ivey is taking his gift-of-gab and considerable marketing skills to other levels. During our conversation, I asked Pimpin’ Ken why he decided to write “The 48 Laws of the Game” and share his secrets with the average square.
“One of the reasons why I wrote it, first of all, I knew that there were a lot of young brothers that respected me and they always ask me for advice,” explained Ken. “So I figured, you know, this gives me an opportunity to give back on an intellectual level. I was taught years ago that the game was to be sold and not to be told. And right now, a lot of the squares is wide open for the game to be sold to them, ‘cause everybody wants to know what the game is all about. So it was the perfect opportunity for me to really share something that’s been inside of me for years, and then get paid at the same time. They got ‘Pimp My Ride’, they got ‘Pimp This’, they got ‘Little Pimp’. Every rapper want to be a pimp so… it’s just like when Bill gates came out with Windows. It was the perfect timing.”
Well… can pimpin’ be learned or is it a natural talent?
“The mentality can be learned, that’s what I’m trying to teach… the pimp mentality. ‘Cause the actual pimping on a (chick)… that’s got to be in you, not on you. It takes a whole lot of psychological warfare and a whole lot of patience to really deal with (pimping) a woman. Some of us don’t even got the patience to go to work and (do) a job. So how’re they going to have patience to sit down and deal with somebody three or four times; maybe six or seven chicks. It takes a special kind of guy to do that. The guy that normally would be a pimp could’ve probably been a psychologist, a lawyer or something where you real sharp with your mind at. See, you got to be sharp in your mind to be a pimp.”
Pimp C of UGK and Pimpin’ Ken
Once Pimp C touched land after serving a three-year prison bid, he linked up with Pimpin’ Ken to begin filming what would become “The Best of Both Worlds” DVD. I asked Ken how the project came about.
“Well, initially it started out as a come home (from jail) thing… kind of like a Pimpin’ Ken and Pimp C night out or something,” said Ken. “And then, everybody wanted to be down with it. So I wanted to make it have some more sense. In the midst of nowhere we changed the direction and it became ‘The Best of Both Worlds’, ‘cause I’m having money… Pimp C having money now. He come out to a quarter million (dollars) in his first night (home). Then things got bigger and bigger and then Jive dropped a couple of million dollars and I’m steady getting money, I’m getting book deals. Since we both got the name ‘pimp’ let’s see why these (rappers) keep using the name ‘pimp’. And that’s why we actually (did the film), ‘cause you can’t just be a pimp. My argument was… anybody can say they pimpin’. But when you’re like Pimp C and you’re tied to the pimpin’, and you’re messing with a guy that’s the Michael Jordan of the pimpin’… then you get some real game when you spit it in your music. Then, that to me is the best of both worlds; the people get the truth as well as they get the rap.”
While discussing the link between rap music and pimping, I wondered aloud: Is pimping a young man’s game the way most people consider rap to be?
“Well, it’s my opinion that after you do a certain amount of affiliation or time in the pimp game, it should be a natural instinct of an intelligent mind to move to bigger and better things… and let the younger guys deal with all this headache,” Pimpin’ Ken articulated. “Now, some of the guys that I knew that were in the game for years and who are still prosperous, what they would do is after a while they’d open up a strip club. Then they’ll make all the young guys bring all their girls to the strip club, ‘cause you’ve got strip club pimps too, then they’d charge the girls tip-op: 20 or 30 dollars… $100, $200. Now they dealing with 50 or 70 girls (and) they’re not physically or mentally tied to them. They’re just tied to them from a business perspective. They took it to another level. That’s called mackin’. There’s all kinds of ways, as you get older you get smarter. In my case, I’m still pimpin’. I’m pimpin’ everybody, but I use mine positively. I’mma pimp these DVDs, I’mma pimp these books. I’m pimpin’ legitimately now.”
It’s no coincidence Pimpin’ Ken compares himself to Michael Jordan. Like Mike, Ken has been marketing himself like crazy, even landing a deal to endorse shoes. Don’t be surprised if you go to Key Food and spot a box of Pimpin’ Ken breakfast cereal in the near future.
“Pimpin’ Ken is a brand, no matter how you look at it,” details Ken. “‘Pimps Up, Hoes Down’, I was the consultant. If you look at the credits, I was the consultant. I was the one who put that whole thing together; at the same time I was putting my movie together ‘Pimpology Uncut’, which you can get at my website. I was the first one who did a shoe deal. I got a shoe deal from Murray Shoes, with the gator shoes. I was the first (pimp) to get a major spread in Vibe magazine and Source magazine. The first one out of that whole (‘Pimps Up’) crew that ran in the FEDS magazine. When 50 Cent first came out he gave me a shout out (in a song) ‘cause he read my name in FEDS. These guys, they look up to me. I just left Queens; I was out there on 90th Street with (new G-Unit rapper) Maserati Fox and all them players… them straight killers, man. I f**k with the hood, I mean for real. The projects in Atlanta, man, I go down there and kick it with dudes by myself. Only security I got is my social security card.”