Friday, June 15, 2012

Videos of African American Males (Music & Natural Hairstyles), Part 3

Edited by Azizi Powell

This is Part III of a three part series on African American male vocalists & musicians performing non-religious music. Part III features African American males with braids, cornrows, or dreadlocks.

Part 1 of this series features videos of African American males with afros (naturals).
Click for Part I of this series.

Part II features videos of African American males with fades (hi-top fades) and with box hair cuts.
Click for Part II of this series.

This post is presented for historical, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes to showcase the music and the performers' hairstyles. The copyrights remain with their owners.

These posts aren't meant to be a comprehensive overview of the hairstyles worn by the general category of African American male vocalists/musicians who perform non-religious music. Nor do these posts mean to imply that the hairstyles shown in the videos were the only hairstyles that were ever worn by those featured performers.

My thanks to the composers, vocalists, and musicians who performed this music. My thanks also to the producers of these videos and the video uploaders.


I believe that the hairstyles worn by African American men, like the hairstyles worn by African American women, reflect how much African Americans in general agree with or reject the position that White standards of beauty are the only acceptable standards of beauty. This is definitely not to say that individual African Americans (or other Black people) don't like themselves or other Black people if they don't wear their hair in natural styles.* However, I believe that a greater acceptance of natural hair styles among African Americans and other Black people signifies more than an expansion of the definition of which hair styles Black people and also non-Black people might consider to be attractive.

It's my opinion, that a greater acceptance among African Americans and other Black people of natural hair styles signifies our increased acceptance of and increased valuing of ourselves. It was no coincidence that "afro" hairstyles became popular in the United States in the 1970s during the rise of the Black consciousness and afro-centric Black nationalist movement. Since the 1970s, apart from the jheri curl look of the 1970s and 1980s which will be the subject of a future post on this blog, it has become the standard practice for most African American men to wear their hair un-straightened and relatively un-processed. And most African American men wear their hair in a close cut natural style such as that worn by President Barack Obama, or they have a bald head.

Up to the age of seven years, I believe that most African American females wear their hair naturally. However, between the ages of seven and eighteen years old, it seems to me that most African American girls wear their hair chemically straightened. However, since the 1990s, an increasing number of African American women, appear to have chosen to wear their hair in natural hairstyles, though that is still a small percentage of that population. As a person who was a young adult in the 1970s, it's interesting to see the return in popularity of the "big afros" with Black females & Black men. I believe that the afro and other natural hair styles are legitimate general indicators of African American group esteem. By "group esteem" I mean how much African Americans see their group as capable of intrinsic attractiveness with regard to hair without the application of strategies which attempt to mimic what White people consider to be standards of beautiful hair such straight hair or lightly curled hair, and light hair color.**

That said, I also believe that African American females (and perhaps, other Black females) may be more accepting of and have a higher value toward females having mutiple ways they can wear their hair within short periods of time (i.e. having different hair styles) then other populations of females. In that regards, "natural hairstyles" may be just one of an increasing number of hair style possibilities that Black women may choose. But in my opinion, "natural hair styles" as a possible "neutral" choice (having neither positive or negative implications), is in and of itself a positive change for Black people, given the overwhelming beliefs in the pre-1960s that the only standards of beauty were those standards that fit some White people.

*By natural hair styles I mean the "tightly curled" hair texture which is characteristic of most sub-Saharan African people and most people of sub-Saharan African descent) are worn without chemical or hot comb processing. Other terms for naturally Black hair are "frizzy", "nappy", and "kinky". However, because of their historical and racist usage, some Black people (including African Americans) may find these terms to be loaded with negative connotations. Because of that, I tend to avoid using those terms.

**With regards to African American women (and other Black women), as to what constitutes White standards of beauty in hair, I would also add "long hair" to the previously given descriptors of "straight hair" or "lightly curled hair", and "light color hair" such as blond hair.

[These videos are presented in chronological order.]

Video #1: Kris Kross - Jump

Uploaded by KrisKrossVEVO on Sep 24, 2010

Music video by Kris Kross performing Jump. (C) 1992 Sony BMG Music Entertainment
KrissKross wear their hair in small braids.

Video #2: Stevie Wonder - You Are The Sunshine, Superstition (Live in London, 1995)

Uploaded by arXter on Dec 30, 2008

Stevie gives a rare studio concert at London's Teddington Studios following the release of his 'Conversation Peace' album. A sensual ride for an intimate audience of less than 200 fans.
In this video, Stevie Wonder wears his hair braided with small beads. Click Stevie Wonder - "Happy Birthday" for a sound file with a photograph of Stevie Wonder wearing his hair in bigger, colored beads.

Video #3: Stevie Wonder I wish - Isn't she lovely

Uploaded by ASSMGMS on Jul 11, 2009

Stevie Wonder - Live in London - 2009
In this video, Stevie Wonder wears his hair in long braids.

Video #4: OutKast - Ms. Jackson

Uploaded by OutKastVaultVEVO on Nov 14, 2009

Music video by OutKast performing Ms. Jackson. (C) 2000 LaFace Records LLC
In this video, "Big Boi" wears his hair in cornrows.

Video #5: Lenny Kravitz - Are You Gonna Go My Way

Uploaded by LennyKravitzVEVO on May 6, 2011
In this video, Lenny Kravitz wears his hair in locks (dreadlocks).

Music video by Lenny Kravitz performing Are You Gonna Go My Way. (P) (C) 2011 Virgin Records America, Inc.. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is a violation of applicable laws. Manufactured by Virgin Records America, Inc., Capitol Records, LLC, 150 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10011.

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