The barbershop is a social, economic, and communal hub in the black community. It’s where people of all walks of life meet to break bread while a master sculptor makes sure your Tinder date or job interview goes incredibly well. Rule number one is never cross your barber. All the other rules are see rule number one.
It’s importance is like that of the golf course for people of power, and it can be as swanky or as no-nonsense as the patron wants it to be. It can be hilarious and empowering, a place to come where you can share your triumphs, your woes, and your reasons why Golden State won’t beat the Bulls 72-10 record in one sitting. All in hilarious quips, of course.
Here, to celebrate Barbershop: The Next Cut , we give you an insider take on what goes down in the barbershop.
Top 5 Dead Or Alive
Hip Hop is always going to be a major topic of discussion at a black barbershop. Who’s your favorite emcee? Is Rakim lyrically iller than Ice Cube? Would Biggie have had a larger impact had he not passed away? And the technicals do count. You have to have lyrics on deck, be able to talk confidently and wittily about the flows of your picks, and know whether it was genius or madness that made Gucci Mane the A&R of the south. But the most fun is when someone brings up who’s top 5 dead or alive. Regional biases and sore points will rear their ugly heads as line-ups fling baby hairs out into the air.
Michael Jordan vs. LeBron James
Old heads have their allegiances and the new-age have theirs. And even though Steph Curry may be the king of basketball right now, in the 80s and 90s the NBA was a slugfest, free-for-all. So the modern era gets scrutinized (probably unfairly) for being soft. But there are players who just on girth or tenacity could have thrived even then and one such baller is shoe-in hall-of-famer LeBron “King” James. He’s got it all. Vision like Magic; a body like Malone; skill like Pip and athleticism like Vince Carter. But it all comes down to heart in the shop, and MJ was a stone cold killer who earned being called the black panther through being ruthless on top of all his prodigious talent. So who’s the GOAT? This convo’s being had in every barbershop across the country as we speak.
Black Lives Matter
Negros used to have to live by a code just to get around. The “Green Book” was one such tool. A tome speaking to where goodwill was had and where people with melanin should avoid. I’ll take one now, please. As young, black, unarmed women and men are gunned down or executed now with real prejudice, the camera phone has changed everything. Now, the news of killings cannot be avoided. And they cannot be avoided in the barbershop, either. As new jacks sweeping up hair and old heads converge to tell all-too-familiar stories of stop-and-frisks gone wrong or dark cotton suits having to be pulled far too soon.
Barbershops are low slung financial brokerage houses in the black community. All manner of hustle and flow takes place there. From the cat selling his fire mix tape to the insurance salesman trying to wrangle a commission, a place where money gets exchanged between black patrons always attracts both sides of the black economy. You can get real financial advice, there. And it is a way station to meet folks that may seem far, far outside your purview. People get internships there, and people also get jobs. People make investments there and the risk is more than dollars and cents. Not being able to show your face at your favorite shop after a deal goes sour? That’s the real risk.
Love & Hip Hop
If you don’t want every person in your hood to know your business then keep it out of the barbershop. The place where hair get’s trimmed into tight swirls also serves as the place to find out what’s going on. It’s not just local, either. In the social media age you can find which starlet is newly single and what you would do to bag. You can do that as well as find out all the drama to stay away from, or which club to hit or what restaurant to take your side piece to. Call it Yelp for your social circle. As a matter of fact, call it indispensable.