Time was, you had to play a hooker to get Oscar's attention. 2006, however, is the year of the pimp. Not only is Terrence Howard nominated for his turn as a rapping solicitor in Hustle & Flow, but the nomination for his signature song, ''It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp,'' has made Three 6 Mafia the guys who wrote the track the first hip hop act to perform on the show. (Eminem, who won for 8 Mile's ''Lose Yourself'' in 2003, skipped the ceremony)
Perhaps having second thoughts about rhyming ''I got a snow bunny, and a black girl too/You pay the right price and they'll both do you'' in front of his peers, Howard who originally recorded ''Pimp'' passed the honors on to the Memphis trio (Hustle costar Taraji P. Henson will join them). Enthuses Mafia's Juicy J: ''He said, 'Y'all rock the crowd. I'ma sit back and let y'all handle that.''' Certainly the irony of playing the same event that's boasted the pipes of Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand isn't lost on them. ''I know we might look crazy in our videos,'' he says, after joking that they won't be employing the services of the house orchestra. ''But there's no reason to be scared of us.''
Tell that to the Academy. In addition to maintaining their standard delay, they're all over Mafia's lyric sheet. On their no-fly list: the N-word and sundry expletives. Says Juicy J, ''They actually said we could keep [bitches and ho's] in there.'' What?!? ''But I wanna change it to women. There's gonna be kids watching.''