The 25 Most Popular Black Male Hairstyles of All-Time, Ranked From Worst To First » VSB

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The 25 Most Popular Black Male Hairstyles of All-Time, Ranked From Worst To First

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It’s been almost 20 years since Allen Iverson inspired me to go from the low close fade to the straight ceasar. I haven’t looked back since, staying faithful to the ceasar while witnessing the death of the bald fade, the emergence of the frohawk, the rebirth of both the bald fade and the high top fade (the “box”), and whatever the hell Kanye was doing in 2012. And those are just a few of the styles from the last two decades. If you go back even further, you’ll find jeri curls and afros. Even further, and conks and civil rights’ cuts — the not quite fade/not quite ceasar/not quite curl/not quite coarse with the not quite defined hairline — will show their processed faces.

But, which one out of these dozens of different hairstyles for Black men is/was the best? (And the worst?) Let’s find out.

25. The Conk

Perhaps the worst thing that ever happened to Black people, and that includes slavery and Big Sean.

24. The Jeri Curl

Although the Jeri Curl rates as the second worst, I think it’s kinda underrated just because of its utility. It remains the only hairstyle that can also be used as a weapon.

23. The Kanye Shag

kanye shag

Fuck no.

22. Plats

Those plats are sexy as hell.” — said by no one, ever.

21. The Pompadour

Not even Morris Day could save this.

20. The Mohawk

Only effectively pulled off by Mr. T and other men too scary looking for people to tell them they look stupid.

19. The Lightskint

lightskint

The hard-to-describe hair style only rocked by light-skinned Black men, The Lightskint is basically them just not doing a damn thing to their hair — no shape up, no trim, no nothing — but being lightskinned. (Also known as “The Russell Wilson before he started dating Ciara.”)

18. The Mini Locs

Apparently, men with perpetual mini locs are derided in the dreadlock community. Because, according to VSB’s Shay-d-Lady, you can’t trust a man whose locs won’t grow

17. The George Jefferson

george jefferson

Also known as the “Dad, PLEASE let me take you to the barbershop.”

16. The Civil Rights’ Cut

No one has ever explained why in every picture taken between 1959 and 1965 of Black men marching, they all have the exact same haircut. 

15. The Blowout

Also known as the “Indecisive.”

14. The Gumby

bobby brown

Gets points just for sheer difficulty. There have only been like 17 successful Gumbys in the history of Black male hair.

13. Twists

Whenever I think of this, I think of Isaiah Washington’s character in Love Jones. Which usually makes me the only person on Earth at that moment thinking of Isaiah Washington’s character in Love Jones.

12. The Frohawk

I can already picture the relatively high placement of the frohawk inspiring people to leave angry comments I won’t read until Thursday.

11. The High-Top Fade (aka “The Box”)

kid

Although not the best, is perhaps my favorite haircut, just because of how difficult it is to grow and maintain a perfectly square hair box on the top of your head.

10. The Twist Fro

After being very popular in the late 90s and early aughts (both Shawn and Marlon Wayans always seemed to have them) seems to have quietly faded into obscurity. (Which oddly mirrors the careers of Shawn and Marlon Wayans.) 

9. The Mini Fro

If done right, the mini fro looks kinda hot. If not, it looks like a sponge drenched with root beer. Fortunately, it’s done right more often than not

8. Cornrows

Look, love them or hate them, cornrows are what they are. They are the only hairstyle that’s completely self-aware. Everyone who currently still has cornrows is a person who still should have cornrows.

7. The Close Fade (aka “The Blend”)

close fade

Although other hairstyles are more difficult to maintain, a blend requires the most trust from your barber. Only expert barbers can pull this off, and only experienced ones should even try. A good blend can take you from a 6.5 to a 7.5. A bad blend makes you assume the barber was hungover.

6. The Rakim

rakim

Only rates this high because I had a Rakim in 5th grade. (And I was fresh to death!!!)

5. Dreadlocks

When did women loving men with dreadlocks become a thing? It wasn’t a thing in the 90s — at least, it didn’t seem to be a thing — so when did this start, and who started it?

4. The Bald Fade

stringer bell

Few things have surprised me more than the bald fade’s sudden return from retirement. No haircut teeters the line between professional and intimidating like it does, which is probably why Stringer Bell had one for so long.

3. The Bald Head

Works like a motherfucker if you have the head for it. And, if you don’t have the head for it — basically, if you’re someone like me — it can make you look like any and every thing from a cage-free egg to a baggy condom.

2. The Afro

Is the shit. And would win if not for…

1. The Ceasar

ceasar

The one haircut that has never — and will never — go out of style. There were Black men with ceasars in the 40s, the 70s, the 90s, and now. Every other cut cycles. The ceasar is forever.

Damon Young

Damon Young is the editor-in-chief of VSB. He is also a columnist for GQ.com And he's working on a book of essays to be published by Ecco (HarperCollins). Damon is busy. He lives in Pittsburgh, and he really likes pancakes. Reach him at damon@verysmartbrothas.com. Or don't. Whatever.

  • miss t-lee

    The bald fade never left down here.
    I remember my older brother having the Rakim, high top, and a gumby at some point.
    He also had a Kwame…lol

    • kidvideo

      Kwame is/was under appreciated…he’s the Kanye
      of the early 90’s.
      He had Blk kids wearing Polka Dot shirts, for Christ sakes.

      He needs an episode of “Unsung”.

      • miss t-lee

        Indeed. Would love to see that.

  • iamnotakata

    19. The Lightskint LOL But yes and I absolutely hate this hairstyle.. Shemar didn’t get fine to me until he got rid of it.

    17. The George Jefferson this is also know as the fighting arena

    25. The Conk – sad part is there are still brothas rocking this today..

    number 7 and 4 are Yes! all day never gets tired

    • Damon Young

      where are their conked brothas today?

      • iamnotakata

        In the Bayarea lol, they’re disguising it as a “hipster” haircut but it’s a conk. I’ve seen Cadillac records I know a conk when I see one.

        • The thing is that the Bay area had different kinds of blowouts and cons than the rest of the US. They went deep with that hair game and the various conks.

  • Ray Jefferies

    Everyone seemed to like the Rakim, no one seemed to be able to duplicate it… ever

    • BeautifullyHuman

      Tupac had a pretty fly one in “Juice” or does that not qualify as a Rakim?

      • Ray Jefferies

        Naw that wasn’t really a Rakim, Rakim had this sort of “Step” box separated by a part, it was all flat though. Tupac had the rounded joint on one side. Not even sure what to call it.

        • BeautifullyHuman

          Hmm. The things you learn in VSB land.

          • Ray Jefferies

            And I guarantee that at least 50% of what I said was 100% accurate

            • BeautifullyHuman

              LMAO…I’m so going to tell somebody this one day.

        • Meridian

          Soooo, basically a modified Rakim.

          • Ray Jefferies

            That seems like a reasonable description, though when I saw the movie Juice and saw his hair cut, it never once made me think of Rakim, it looked like a whole separate cut

        • HR Paperstacks

          Looks like a semi-Nino Brown

          • Ray Jefferies

            Wasn’t the Nino Brown up the middle? Like a mohawk merged with a flat top? This is getting too complicated, this is exactly why they never should’ve gave y’all “the geometry” and clippers. Y’all just take it too far (I say y’all because I realize due to Charles Barkley’s insights that I am an “other”). Give y’all enough time one of you will be trying to cut a Möbius Strip in your hair. Stop holding the rest of us back *Points at everyone else*

            • HR Paperstacks

              I’m at work weak right now, lol.

              I always felt the Nino Brown was more of a spartan helmet looking thing. So let’s say ‘Pac had a reverse, crooked Nino. Yeah…

  • Tx10inch

    This one’s called “New Nigga”.

    • kidvideo

      * Luther Campbell voice*
      HEAD! HEAD! AND MO HEAD!!!!!!!

    • miss t-lee

      Yikes.

    • Ray Jefferies

      Dude cut his hairline back so far it looks like it’s procrastinating

      • Brandy

        This comment literally made me laugh out loud at work. I got all types of people staring at me right now *back to lurker mode*

    • Hostile Negress

      I rocked a cease for yearsssss – and I met “new nigga” more than once. Messed my hairline UP. As a woman the threat was higher because barbers would act so damned confused by a female head like the isht had an extra level or something. Bruh, cease me with the 1guard and straight razor shape up. A standards shape up – not no extra tall skinny forehead isht. See now I’m getting mad all over again.

    • Damon Young

      we’d have to fight

      • Tx10inch

        Hell yeah….

    • TwentyTwo

      Why the barber’s hairline dont start back in his thoughts too?

      • Cathy Lizzy

        Somebody else cut it.

  • Perihelion

    If you happen to be an owner of any of #7, #4, and #, then you know that they are the reasons why it is one of the most angst-ey times in a black man’s life when he’s either changing his barber or in a new city trying to find a barber. Any one of those executed correctly steps up your whole aura for at least the next 72-96 hours, but if done wrong it could be devastating to your whole outlook on life.

    • Damon Young

      yup

  • Guest

    Ahhh, the mini fro. Almost forgot that was a thing.

    http://i372.photobucket.com/albums/oo162/romethesislo/kobe_fro.jpg

    • whut. where. how. who. SWAY?! THE RAPERS?! lololol. Who is responsible for this?!

    • Seems to be making a comeback….or rather Derrick Rose blames his caesar for his injuries

  • Guest

    Ahhh the mini fro…almost forgot that was thing.

    • Hey, I like mini fros when I have the time to maintain it. And the shade on Kobe in this pic is epic, though deserved.

  • V.E.G.

    There is no way you can convince me the Ceasar is more appealing on brothas than locs, a bald head or a fro (in that order).

    • Cuz you ain’t see me fresh put a barbershop in a tailored suit lol

    • Wild Cougar

      Caesar is the most trustworthy. Caesar says I’ll watch the game with your father, hug your mother and change the oil in your car. All the other ones are potentially suspect, in different ways.

  • Paradigm

    Nothing like a fresh ceasar… That was always the go-to move pre loc journey… I’ll go back one day

    • PunchDrunkLove

      Yup

  • Trevor

    360 degree waves #1 though.

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