The strong influence of Jamaican culture has always worked side by side with hip hop, with this influence becoming more prominent around the world around the same time as the hip hop music genre did.
This began back in the early 1970s, when Jamaican -American disc jockey DJ Kool Herc- considered to be the founder of hip hop- brought hip hop to life in the New York Bronx.
The 70s also saw Bob Marley bring dreadlocks to the forefront of mainstream culture, with the hairstyle becoming associated with Jamaican and Rastafarian culture (though dreadlocks did not originate from Jamaica, contrary to popular belief).
As hip hop and rap began to take flight in the 80s and 90s, so too was there an influx of black, Hispanic (and sometimes white) rappers embracing the dreadlock hairdo thanks to the natural connection between the hairstyle and hip hop as a whole.
The dreadlock is still embraced by rappers to this day, becoming one of the most popular styles adopted by hip-hop culture.
With this in mind, we are going to be looking at some of the most prolific rappers in the music industry that are embracing the dreadlock hairstyle. Let’s get started.
Snoop Dogg has had a significant presence in the rap/hip hop industry since his debut back in 1992, with his hair being a large part of his image as an artist.
Snoops traditional dreadlocks have been a staple of his look over the past decade, since the release of his reggae album- Reincarnated- in 2012, a time at which he adopted a new name too (Snoop Lion, though this was only temporary).
During that time, Snoop completely embraced the Rastafarian and Jamaican culture by traveling to Jamaica and adopting dreadlocks.
The hairstyle took on a deeper meaning for him rather than simply being a style choice, reflecting the importance of Jamaican culture to Snoop as well as its links to hip hop.
Snoop has maintained these dreadlocks on and off since then, though he seems to wear them in his hair more often than not.
As one of the most well-known and influential players in the rap and hip hop game, Snoop’s dreadlocked look has become as infamous as he is!
The 37-year-old rapper, producer, songwriter, singer, and basketball player (multitalented doesn’t quite seem to cover it1), Jermaine Lamaar Cole- known by his stage name J.Cole- has seen a steady growth of his hair over the years until he achieved the free-form dreads that he is known for now.
J.Cole first came into the hip hop and rap scene in 2007 and back then, he rocked a low fade haircut that he would maintain for the entirety of the first half of his career.
Around 2014, he began to make the change to free-form dreadlocks, which is when the hair is grown out naturally- usually from an afro- and dreadlocks start to form.
His dreads gradually became thicker and longer to the point where he will now regularly tie them back, particularly when playing basketball.
The gentle development and growth of J.Coles dreadlocks seem to be a reflection of him growing as an artist too and becoming more confident in who he is.
Another icon in the world of rap and hip hop, Lil Wayne has sported different kinds of dreadlocks for almost two decades.
Though initially having cornrows when he first debuted, he later changed to dreadlocks and continues to wear his hair in this style to this day.
Much like J. Cole, the kind of dreadlocks that Lil Wayne wears in his hair are called free-form locs, which are easy to style and create as they require minimal manipulation or sometimes no manipulation at all.
Lil Wayne tends to have his dreadlocks on the longer side, sometimes reaching lengths of seven or eight inches.
He has also had various styles over the years, including middle parting dreadlocks, multicolored dreads, pigtail dreads, top knot dreads, and bleached dreads.
Unfortunately, the years of stress that the manipulation has put on his scalp has led to some balding, likely caused by the more intense nature of the traditional locs he sometimes has, such as loc cornrows and two-strand twists.
This has likely caused Lil Wayne to adopt the free-form style as of late to avoid any more hair loss.
Infamous rapper, record executive and general media proprietor Jay- Z is likely to not be the most obvious choice when it comes to thinking of rappers with dreadlocks. In fact, he spent most of his career without them.
From his debut in 1996, Jay-Z was known for having either one of two hairstyles: the mini afro or the low cut. He is known for growing out his hair when working on an album, usually going from a low cut to a mini afro.
When his work was complete, he would then cut his hair in order to prepare for shooting music videos and general promotions.
However, in 2018, Jay-Z began to leave his hair to grow out naturally, leading to the dreaded look that he still has today.
Jay-Z uses the free-form style of dreadlocks that we talked about earlier, which emphasizes the natural look thanks to the lack of styling, manipulation, or combing that is needed to maintain it.
For an artist such as Jay-Z, his hair transition into natural dreads seems to be an act of self-expression as well as a hair choice, as suggested by the lyrics that he wrong for the Meek Mills song “What’s Free”, wherein he raps about the carefree nature of his hair.
Clearly more than just a style choice, Jay-Z’s decision to let his hair return to its natural dreaded form acts as an expression of freedom.
T-Pain may be well known for his creative use of Auto-Tune- popularizing it in modern music- but he is also known for his dreadlocked hairstyle. His dreads are an iconic part of his look now, but they haven’t always been a constant.
When he came into the hip hop and rap game back in 2005, T-Pain sported the semi-freeform style of dreadlocks that were long and thick.
The look was a signature style for him for a number of years, but around 2013, he ended up cutting all of his dreads off due to the death of his uncle.
His uncle had not been the biggest fan of his dreadlocks, advising him prior to his success that in order to achieve his dreams, he should get rid of his dreads.
Despite this, he began to grow out his dreadlocks again around 2017, and he has maintained them ever since.
The rapper, producer, and singer/songwriter kept the same traditional style of dreadlocks both when he first debuted, and after he cut them off, which can be a little more high maintenance in comparison to free-form dreadlocks as they need to be combed into the hair backward- towards the scalp- in short sections before being twisted.
These kinds of dreadlocks also need to be kept clean, as the natural oil in the hair can accumulate and make it difficult for the locs to twist and tangle properly.
The talented singer, songwriter, and rapper Wiz Khalifa began his journey towards dreadlocks back in early 2013, and he has only continued to grow them out since then.
Khalifa’s hair type is 4B- which refers to textured and kinky Afro hair- and dreads for those with this hair type usually begin by using a traditional comb coil method.
As his hair continued to grow, the twists of hair began to form into the dreads that we know him for today.
Khalifa went through a period of time wherein he would dye his dreads different colors, such as when he dyed his entire head of dreads bright purple.
However, in March 2019, Wiz tweeted out that he would “never ever put dye” in his hair again. Constant colorful dyes and bleaching can be damaging to dreadlocks, and this is exactly what happened with Wiz.
It can cause a reduction in thickness, loss of strength, breakage, and an altered texture. Wiz was true to his word and hasn’t dyed his hair since.
Wiz Khalifa has had various different kinds of dreadlocks over the years. These include cornrow dreads- which are dreadlocks braided to the scalp-, and two-strand twists- one of the most popular styles of dreadlocks.
Lil Durk is a Drill rapper originating from Chicago, wherein dreadlocks are common with hip hop and rap artists, so much so that they have become a staple of the culture.
Alongside Lil Durk, some other Chicago-based Drill rappers include Young Chop and Chief Keef, both of whom also adopt the dreadlock look and act as the faces of the sub-genre and the culture in general.
Much like T-Pain, Lil Durk is also on his second set of dreadlocks, as he had to get them cut short when he went to prison.
His dreads are styled with a coiling method- referring to twisting with gel-, as shown in an Instagram post where he shared his haircare process. He does seem to have them rewoven regularly though, and he will also style them via a two-strand twist too.
Lil Durk also bleaches his dreads, which- as mentioned when we talked about Wiz Khalifa- might not be for everyone. However, that doesn’t mean that bleaching your dreads is definitely going to have negative effects.
If you are considering having bleached dreads, make sure to consult a loctician first (a specialist in dreadlock maintenance, care, and style) to see if this is the right choice for you.
2Chainz is another rapper who did cut his dreadlocks- doing so in 2020-, but has since grown out his hair and is styling it back in the dreadlocked style that he had beforehand.
His dreads have become something of a signature look for him, especially the free-form style with bits of color- such as blonde or bronze- here and there.
If you are interested in learning how to maintain dreadlocks- 2Chainz tends to post quite frequently to his Instagram with his maintenance and grooming routine in regard to his dreadlocks.
Locticians can be a bit pricey at times, so if you find that you can’t afford to visit one, then maybe have a look at the tips and tricks that 2Chainz has to share!
Gazzy Garcia- otherwise known by his stage name of Lil Pump- is a little different from the other rappers that we have included on this list due to having a different texture of hair and a different hair type in general.
The rappers we have discussed have all been of black and African American descent, but Lil Pump is Columbian.
His hair is either type 2C or 3A- wavy or curly-, making it looser than textured afro hair. This looseness makes it more difficult for dreads to stay locked in, but it is possible.
When Lil Pump first got into music- back in 2015- he would release his tracks through SoundCloud and accompanied it with pictures of himself.
You can see the loose, curled afro that he had naturally in these pictures, but as the years went on, he began developing short starter dreads. He initially began to do this by using rubber bands in his hair.
These bands would be put in at the root in order to lock the dreadlock in, as well as at the ends of the dreads to tie them off. It is also thought that he manually installed some of the locs with a crochet hook. A clever and crafty technique!
As Lil Pump started to gain more fame and recognition for his music, his hair became more vibrant. He began dying his dreadlocks in different colors.
At first, he would mainly use pink and blonde dye, but he eventually started incorporating multicolored dreads into his look. This became a staple in his individual style, becoming a signature and distinctive hairstyle for the young rapper.
Dreadlocks are a difficult hairstyle to maintain as they need a lot of time, effort, and care put into them, even the natural free-form style of locs.
If you have been wanting to give dreadlocks a try, why not take some inspiration from some of the rappers above and give it a go!
Don’t forget to consult a loctician if you have any queries, as they are experts in their field.
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