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Rap song wins Oscar after historic performance

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    Tuesday, March 07, 2006

    LOS ANGELES (Reuters): Bitches became witches in the sanitized lyrics of the Oscar-winning rap tune ''It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp'' when the song was performed at the Academy Awards.

    ''We changed the lyrics up completely. I had to because my mom was watching. I didn't want to say any cuss words,'' said Jordan ''Juicy J'' Houston, who co-wrote the theme for the art-house pimp film ''Hustle&Flow'' with Paul ''DJ Paul'' Beauregard and Cedric ''Frayser Boy'' Coleman.

    Houston told reporters backstage that he and his collaborators were ecstatic when they were invited to perform and were happy to substitute more family-friendly words.

    Just a few days before the Oscars, however, Houston had said the word ''bitches'' would remain in the performance with the Academy's blessing. The group switched to ''witches'' during the rousing performance by Houston's rap group Three 6 Mafia and actress Taraji P Henson.

    BOOST FOR HIP-HOP While rapper Eminem won the best song Oscar in 2003 for ''Lose Yourself'' from the film ''8 Mile,'' he skipped the ceremony and the song was not performed. The last urban-themed tune to win the Oscar was Isaac Hayes's ''Theme from 'Shaft''' in 1972.

    When asked if he thought the group's win would be a further boost for the mainstreaming of hip-hop, Houston said, ''Yes, yes, yes. Right now, when you look around and listen to radio and watch television, hip-hop is taking over.'' The song was performed in the film and on the soundtrack by the movie's main character, pimp-turned-rapper Djay, played by best-actor nominee Terrence Howard.

    The song won against Dolly Parton's ''Travelin' Thru'' from the transsexual road comedy-drama ''Transamerica,'' and Kathleen ''Bird'' York and Michael Becker's ''In the Deep'' from the best-picture Oscar winner ''Crash.'' The other music Oscar went to Argentina's Gustavo Santaolalla for his score to Oscar-winning director Ang Lee's ''Brokeback Mountain.''

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