Kingpin Skinny Pimp

Kingpin Skinny Pimp Biography

When it comes to music and musicians, the river city of Memphis has been fertile with prolific musicians who have, over the course of the decades, literally changed the face of American popular music. Imagine where American popular music would be without the likes of Isaac Hayes, Rufus Thomas, Sam & Dave or B.B. King, or the AL Bell and Stax Records. The same could be said for Memphis’s contribution to hip-hop because when it comes to rap music the city has produced a number of the South’s biggest rap stars. Among them are Eightball & MJG, Tela, Project Pat, the 3-6 Mafia and Kingpin Skinny Pimp.

Although not quite as well known nationally as some of his Memphis counterparts, Kingpin Skinny Pimp is, without a doubt, one of the Deep South’s most revered rappers. He is a 10-year veteran with over eight independent albums totaling over 300,000 in sales, whose smooth rapid-fire flow has influenced legions of wannabes, many of whom, are selling millions of records biting his style.

Born Derrick Dewayne Hill and raised in North Memphis’ rough and tumble Dixie Homes area, Skinny was raised on in a strict Christian home by his grandfather who stepped in when his immediate parents were missing in action. "It was kinda hard," recalls Skinny. "Because my mama and my daddy used to stay out trying to get their money, just like how I be doing some times."

But despite the hardship of growing up without a father or mother around all the time, Skinny Pimp soldiered on with his life. Like most Memphians he grew up being exposed to the city’s wonderful musical heritage. In addition to hearing the blues and gospel music that floated around the neighborhood, Skinny also was exposed to the funky earthiness of '70s soul music, a style of music known in Memphis as "that Pimpin’ Mane," which was extremely popular in the '80s, '90s and even today. The music of Marvin Gaye, Willie Hutch, the O’Jays, the Isley Brothers, Isaac Hayes and others of that provided the soundtrack to Skinny’s early life until that fateful day when he was exposed to hip-hop acts like the Fat Boys, the Skinny Boys and LL Cool J.

From that day forward Skinny's life was transformed. Soon he and his friends were trading rhymes back and forth in the hallways of Herman Junior High School.

"I started rapping back in 1985," says Skinny Pimp. "When I was at school at Herman Junior High we all used to be in the hallway beat-boxing and rapping. I’ve always been Kingpin Skinny Pimp. I tried to bring along one of my friends from the neighborhood named 211. Right now he’s not like he used to be. He used to one of the hardest rappers out there, but he let the streets take him under."

Through his love of rap music Skinny Pimp managed to avoid the pitfalls that ensnared many of his friends. Shortly after graduating from school, the Kingpin of Memphis rap hooked up with a local named Squeaky and started making mix tapes, which sold briskly on the streets. But their success was imitated by a rival crew that included DJ Paul and Juicy J of the infamous 3-6 Mafia. Unfortunately, tension between Skinny and Squeaky escalated to a point where the two parted ways, with Skinny joining forces with Paul and J and releasing mix tapes filled with verses dissing his former partner.

"After Squeaky and I had got into it about something at the club, I struck out and went over to Paul’s house and we started doing stuff, talking bad about Squeaky and his crew. The next thing you know we were all into it and starting scrapping in the mall and stuff. It got real deep on that. After that everybody knew that we had real beef on the street and they started buying our underground CDs just to see what we were saying about each other."

The success of these mix tapes prompted 3-6 Mafia to eventually release their own record called Mystic Styles, which featured Kingpin Skinny Pimp on two songs. Mystic Styles sold well over 100,000 units. The album’s success led to Skinny’s dropping King Of The Player’s Ball, which sold over 60,000 copies with absolutely no help from radio.

This should have put Skinny Pimp well on the road to riches, but it didn’t because he wasn’t up on all of the pitfalls of the industry and, in a moment of economic desperation, signed away all of his rights to his album to Paul and Juicy J for a mere $10,000.

Realizing that he made a huge mistake Skinny left the 3-6 camp and drifted through a series of labels, releasing a string of albums (Skinny But Dangerous, Back To The Player's Ball, 2000 Dope Game, Da Product, Kingpin Skinny Pimp’s Greatest Hits and Controversy With 211).

In 2001, after watching his last album Da Product sell over 60,000 units independently and realizing that his cut was going to be a mere $20,000, Skinny Pimp decided that enough was enough. So he learned the business and hooked up with Nikkia Shine and Andre "Dre Day" Stephens of the fledging label Rap Hustlers to release his latest album Still Pimpin’ & Hustlin’.

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