After we’ve met Djay, a desperate, heartfelt pimp trying to make something of himself (played without a single fault by Terrence Howard), we witness him and his sound engineer friend, Key (Anthony Anderson) mix their first track together. Before they begin, they are joined by Shelby (DJ Qualls), a scrawny, absentminded sound mixing genius. The three become acquainted (Djay, it goes without saying, is stunned by Shelby’s blasé entrance into Djay’s not-so-humble abode), and they agree on a hook for Djay’s first song. (“Beat That Bitch,” it humorously turns out, is too sexist for the radio-friendly vibe they’re going for).
Once the hook is locked, Shelby spends less than a minute completely blowing our minds.
First, with the hurried encouragement of Djay and Key, he tries to find the rhythm of the track on his keyboard. Gently plugging one key, then another, before losing it, then finding it definitively. With the rhythm set, he begins to develop the beat, first by adding a sparse clap, then throwing quick snares on top of it. Once Shelby gets the beat to where it could reasonably stay, he brings on the power, throwing a hard bass loop on top of it all. Shelby spends exactly 40 seconds finding and developing the beat to what soon turns into “Whoop That Trick,” a thumping anthem that represents Djay’s anger and resentment.
Once Djay begins to rap (and this, it should be noted, is done by Howard himself, in his own voice), the scene completely takes off. The lyrics are presented with a moderately elementary flow, which works flawlessly, as we're dealing with dream-seeking amateurs. For a first song, the lyrics aren’t bad. At all. And with that catchy of a beat supporting the words, there’s simply no arguing the bravado of this cinematic moment.
Two things I want you to picture, both of which help accentuate the scene for me, personally. When I saw Hustle & Flow in the theater, the place lost it during this scene. The crowd, which was at capacity with people of varying ethnicities, tapped their feet, bobbed their heads and chanted the words “Whoop that trick,” over and over with equal admiration. It was heavenly.
Second. I showed Hustle & Flow to my mother the day before the 2005 Oscar ceremony (where the film would eventually win an award for its miraculous track, “It’s Hard Out Here For a Pimp”). My mom likes movies. All kinds. But Hustle & Flow is simply not something she would enjoy. She knew it, and I knew it. And to make a rather long, rather triumphant story short, the night after watching this movie, I caught her singing “Whoop That Trick” to herself while cooking dinner.
I could go on, but that about sums this scene up perfectly, don’t you think?