Happy Birthday Hip Hop: Hip Hop and Haircuts Over the Years

Before bling was a thing, and everyone thought parachute pants were cool, barbershops were the unofficial ground zero for hip hop.
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Back in the early days of hip hop, before bling was a thing and everyone thought parachute pants were cool, barbershops were more than just places to get a trim. They were one the unofficial stages for underground rap battles. Picture it: a small shop buzzing with clippers and rhymes, where aspiring MCs laid down their beats in hopes of catching a break.

From "Rappers Delight" to "Int'l Players Anthem" to "Worldwide Steppers," and everything else in between and beyond, hip hop has evolved into a global phenomenon. As hip hop evolved, barbershops were right there, staying true to their roots. From the biggest and brightest in  the game to the underground rappers clandestinely keeping cyphers lit, many in hip hop credit barbershops with shaping their artistic journey. Forget LinkedIn and conferences. The local barbershop was one of the places you went to get seen and be heard. The same holds true today.

In the digital age, where finding the right barber is a just click away thanks to theCut, you might wind up at a shop watching the next big thing, man or woman, getting faded up, chopping it up with patrons or casually and effortlessly spitting verses when challenged.

But it's not just about the barbershop being a place to catch some bars. There are countless verses and videos giving barbershops and barbers their props, both subtly via lyrical skill or via direct depiction on screen. Boosie shouts out his fresh fade. In Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince a.k.a. Will Smith talk about the good times with summer and it goes without saying none of it happens without looking good. And we must include the ode to all things style, Outkast's So Fresh, So Clean. Movies like "Barbershop" put them on the big screen, reminding us that these places aren't just about hair; they're about community and connection.

While we nod our heads to 50 years of hip hop greatness, let's also shout out the barbers who kept our favorite artists looking sharp. From high top fades to cornrows and braids and of course we can't leave out the Gumby masterpieces. Barbers sculpted more than just hairdos – they shaped the culture. Not all heroes wear capes, but plenty of them use them to cut hair.

So cheers to the pioneers! Cheers to the old school! Cheers to the new school! Cheers to the lyricism and the beats that have kept the parties rocking and the heads nodding! And a special cheers to the barbers who keep everything fresh and casket-sharp! Barbers are just as important and culture-shifting as the fashion that went from dismissed urban gear to high end streetwear. They've been keeping it real, one cut at a time in shops across America and beyond. Here's to the beat, melodies, samples and rhymes and heres to the steady hum of the clippers, the very pulse of what it means to be FRESH. 🎤💈✂️♂️🎶

Who's YOUR favorite freshly faded rapper? Let us know in the comments.

Eric Payne, Sr. Content Manager at theCut and Editor in Chief of STAMPED, and Courtney Heywood-Pierce, Partnerships Manager at theCut, collaborated on this article.