Culture Rover

#32 - Reverse Gear

MTV's Pimp My Ride may reference the ice-cold attitude of pimp culture, but the show is really about the warm fuzzy feeling of teamwork and artistic creativity.

Each episode, rapper Xzibit and West Coast Auto Customs take a person's junked-out car and completely transform it into a snazzy new vehicle, replete with gimmicks from a camel-bag water system for a driver who had to stay hydrated due to a recent kidney transplant to a dryer for a surfer-dude in a VW bus.

Pimp My Ride shifts hip-hop representation from slow-motion videos of Chablis, diamonds, playa-hating, and hos to guys in auto mechanic jumpsuits working with welding torches and seat fabric, goofing around and smiling a lot.

Even though it's thoroughly commodified, unthreatening, and depoliticized, the show also -- through its MTV-ified lens -- steers us back toward powerful, older hip-hop possibilities: an ethos of positivity, crews devoted to artistic skills and, when it comes to it, a lot of love.

27 November 2004

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