Rappers from Snoop
Dogg to 50 Cent and Nelly have used the word "pimp" in both its negative
and positive subtexts in their rhymes, but controversy over "pimp"
recently spilled into the courts, leading to a decision supporting the term’s
The Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday (Jan. 4) in favor of ESPN,
stating that the sports channel’s use of "pimp" on their website was
intended as a compliment.
Motorcycle stunt specialist Evel Knievel sued ESPN for libel
after a photo of Knievel alongside his wife and another woman appeared on ESPN.com
with the caption, "You’re never too old to be a pimp."
Judge A. Wallace Tashima declared that readers would have probably
viewed the caption as "an attempt at humor." The ruling upheld a federal
judge’s prior decision to dismiss Knievel’s suit.
"Although the word ‘pimp’ may be reasonably capable of
a defamatory meaning when read in isolation, we agree with the district court’s
assessment that the term loses its meaning when considered in the context presented
here," the Court said.
The Supreme Court’s ruling substantiates Nelly’s assertion that
his Pimp Juice energy drink, named after the St. Louis rapper’s hit single,
was not meant to be offensive.
While Nelly was condemned for using the word "pimp"
for his beverage, the rapper has frequently insisted that he spinned the word’s
negative connotation into a positive, using the acronym Positive Intellectual
"These are the words that our children already hear, everyday,
on the radio," Nelly defended in an interview. "I might have a nephew
come in like, ‘What you thought, man? I’m a pimp.’ And I’ll be like, ‘okay,
well pimp them books. Lemme see you bring that C up to an A then, pimp.’ And
he walks in with an A and be like, ‘Yeaaa, pimp! That’s what I’m talking about.’
It’s a word. It’s a word."
The 2004 winner of Nelly’s Positive. Intellectual. Motivated.
Persons (P.I.M.P) annual scholarship, which helps two college students with
educational expenses, will soon be announced.
Nelly also plans to launch a sugar free version of the energy
drink called PJ Tight.