Urban Beauty Collective

#1 Network for Urban Beauty Professionals and The People They Inspire



For New York Times

IN the evolution of black barbering according to Kamal Nuru, the list of begats begins with the Fade (which some folks refer to as the Jersey).

The era would have been around 1982. The Fade was a popular haircut dating to the golden age of hip-hop, one in which the sides were cropped close and the puffy hair on top was kept low, an effect achieved using clippers fitted with No. 1 and No. 2 blades.

“A No. 1 is pretty close, so you can still see the scalp,” Mr. Nuru said last week from behind the Dutch doors to an office that also serves as the coat closet at Levels Unisex, his bustling barbershop on Lexington Avenue in East Harlem.

“A zero,” Mr. Nuru added, referring to clipper gauge, “would be bald.”

Stepped up and set back from the street, Levels is an oasis of calm and tonsorial focus in a part of the city where an awful lot of agitated people can be seen bustling around. There is a homeless shelter across Lexington Avenue. There is a drug treatment facility around the corner. A more-or-less permanent cluster of transvestite prostitutes plies the corners of nearby 125th Street, clad in summery ensembles of Daisy Dukes and tube tops, accessorized with clutch purses that seem awfully tiny until one considers the modest dimensions of the tools of their trade.

The Fade cut eventually begat the Hi-Top Fade, as popularized by rappers like Doug E. Fresh and Schoolly D. When an angled cut was worked into the longer hair at the top of the head, the Flat-Top (a k a the Box) became the Slope (a k a the Gumby), and then the Slope or the Gumby, or whatever you called it, eventually begat another ridged haircut named for a math geek character played by the actor Kadeem Hardison in the “Cosby” spinoff, “A Different World.”

The Dwayne Wayne, Mr. Nuru explained, “had a little swoop-up like a ramp” and was immensely popular at about the time that Mr. Nuru got into the barbering game in 1987. By lucky chance, that happened to be at the precise moment when many African-Americans fastened onto the idea of having their coiffures shaved into complex patterns and topiary designs.

“The late ’80s and early ’90s were a really great time” for African-American hairstyling, said Mr. Nuru, who is 39. Gazing around at the 11 chairs in the shop, one of three he owns in as many boroughs, he remarked with satisfaction that, like much else from the ’80s, the glorious hairstyles of that long ago era had cycled around again.

“The Mohawk came back heavy in the last year,” he said. “And people started playing with their hair again.”

They started having their hair shaped and shaved and cut into fanciful patterns. They began adding Chinese-made black coloring to already dark hair to achieve a blue-black “Beijing” dye job, an effect that lends the wearer a curious resemblance to an action figurine.

They resumed — and with greater brio than was ever seen in the 1980s, when the rigid machismo of early hip-hop culture put a crimp in playfulness — having fun with how they look.

“I used to cut Mickey Mouse into people’s hair, Yankees symbols, any logo or abstract symbol or caricature they could think of,” said Mr. Nuru, whose Islamicized name, he claimed, means...

Click here to read more.


You need to be a member of Urban Beauty Collective to add comments!

Join Urban Beauty Collective

Home of Urban Beauty Collective, a national network of 12,000 black salons & barbershops providing in-salon entertainment since 2003.




The 2012 Sundance Best Director Winner MIDDLE OF NOWHERE's Official Theatrical Trailer. Check www.affrm.com for a theater near you!


Congratulations to our featured Pro of the Month:
Melva Williams of Irving, TX.

Melva has stayed very interactive in the Urban Beauty Collective community by uploading her style photos, blogs and interacting with existing members! Props to you, Melva, for your great work. We support you!


Congratulations Bamboo Hair Studio of Jacksonville, FL, UBC Salon of the Month!

Now, to be considered for the featured shop of the month, call us toll free and tell us why your salon or barbershop is the bomb by dialing 800-656-0256. Next time, we could be featuring your shop!
121 E. 8th Street, Ste 9
Jacksonville, FL 32206

UBC on Facebook

UBC-TV - Free In-Salon Entertainment!

Want to sign-up your shop? Just drop a line to Tilane Jones of UBC at ubcisfabulous@gmail.com.

© 2021   Created by Urban Beauty Collective.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service