“It's Hard Out There for A Pimp” from Hustle and Flow won for Best Song tonight. Hip hop hooray!!!
Though it's not the first rap tune to win (Eminem's “Lose Yourself” won a couple of years ago) tonight's performance by Three 6 Mafia was the first live rap performance ever at the event, even if it was a slightly censored version. The verse “It's f—ed up where I live but that's just how it is,” for example, was substituted with “It's messed up….”
Still, the performance and its win feel like a bigger deal. Where Em's tune was a visceral, escapist celebration by a bonafide music/movie star, “Pimp” is a grittier, yet more soulful composition by a comparably underground group, which comes off more emotive, especially in context of a film that manages to make you feel for its prostituting protagonist without romanticizing him.
Terrance Howard as DJay is a wonder, but not a real rapper and hence he didn't perform the tune -as he does in the movie- on tonight's show. But actress Taraji P Henson did sing the choruses.
Ludacris just said in an E! post-show interview that he thinks “we'll be seeing a lot more of hip hop's influence at Oscars in the future,” and that may true, but I think a few things may have to change before that happens. Here are some suggestions:
One- Future hip hop nominees need to ditch the interpretive dancing and MTV Awards-style spectacles during the rappin.' Even without all the spandex pants and zebra-striped tube tops, it's hard to take hooker humpin' seriously at the Academy Awards.
Two- Hide the Cristal from all nominees so that if they win, we can actually understand their acceptance speech. Maybe their blingin' grills had something to do with it as well, but during their speech, Three 6 Mafia though entertaining, were almost unintelligible.
Three- Yo Kanye, think about writing a song for a movie next year a'right? Even better, get an acting coach and find a role where you play a seminal music legend who struggles, hits bottom and learns a valuable lesson about life and love in the end. Your boy Jaime can give ya some tips. Fo' shizzle.
(DAY AFTER) UPDATE: Just saw Reverand Al Sharpton on Chris Matthew's Hardball and both are completely outraged that “Pimp” won for best song! Matthews doesn't get why white academy voters would vote for a song about pimps, which he clearly thinks sucks ass as a musical composition. (“How can this be the best song from a movie all year?” he kept asking. Uh, did you even see the movie Chris?) Sharpton, actually has a point though. He thinks it does a disservice to African-Americans because “we're out here fighting for human rights, not pimp rights!” For those who never saw Hustle and Flow and maybe heard the song for the first time last night, Sharpton's probably right. But anyone who did see the movie and has half a brain knows this song is much more nuanced than either man is giving is it credit for. It no more glorifies pimps than Crash (which won Best Film) glorifies bigots. Get a grip fellas.