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Reflections is the very explicit beat-jazz birth of gangsta rap. A former pimp turned author, Iceberg Slim wrote Pimp: The Story of My Life, believed by some to be the highest selling book by a black author ever! On Reflections, the Red Holloway Quartet makes the bed, then Slim rhythmically speaks his prose like a bass note beat poet in what became the birth of the bad, dark, none-too-taboo tales of the street that inspired a subgenre of music. Justin Gifford, author of Street Poison – The Biography Of Iceberg Slim, has penned a set of liner notes that help you grasp the immense cultural impact of this record and the hip-hop luminaries it inspired. Those notes line the gatefold jacket which also holds the original liner notes, and some badass beat poetry on icy clear vinyl. Robert “Iceberg Slim” Beck was a mess of contradictions whose works have transformed African American literature and culture. There would have been no blaxploitation or hip-hop the way that we know them today without Pimp: The Story of My Life. To a wide range of readers Iceberg Slim is the definitive voice of black urban life and to his critics he is a misogynist who wrote trashy paperbacks that promote violence against vulnerable young women; both outlooks have a degree of truth to them.
In 1976 Beck recorded Reflections, in which he recites four street poems accompanied by Red Holloway’s jazz quartet. Beck’s deep voice is full of velvety menace and combined with Holloway’s mellow riffs, the album has all the ambiance of a haze filled lounge. In his polished and riveting monologues, Beck spins spellbinding tales of the dark side of ghetto glamour—the drug addiction, the violence against women, and the street rivalries. The album closes with Beck’s most personal track, Mama Debt, where he probes deeper into the psychological traumas and troubled childhood that led him to pimping and his incarceration. Although he didn’t know it at the time, Beck’s works inspired the most powerful artistic response to America’s new police state: gangsta rap. The two most influential gangsta-style rappers, Ice-T and Ice Cube, both named themselves after Iceberg Slim, and they styled their anti establishment messages and hardcore confessionals of violent street life after Beck’s street fiction. Reflections returns to record stores on August 17th, 2018 via Modern Harmonic, on crisp icy clear vinyl in a gatefold jacket with freshened up artwork, new liner notes from Justin Gifford and a whole lot of profanity.