The Evolution Of Jay-Z’s Dreads

In his early career, Jay-Z had a long-standing tradition with his hair – he would grow out his afro-textured hair while recording an album and finally shave it once the album was complete and released.

However, in recent years Jay-Z has broken this tradition and begun a new hair journey. The dense texture of his hair is perfect for dreadlocks, so he has opted for a new look that is freedom personified.

The Evolution Of Jay-Z's Dreads

As he opens a new chapter of his life, his hair grows with this accomplished musician and rap artist.

In this article, you’ll be able to get a detailed look into the evolution of Jay-Z dreads, what his hair growth means, and understand the steps you can take to achieve his iconic look.

The Beginning Of Jay-Z’s Dreads

Jay-Z began to grow his hair into freeform dreads in 2018. His hair journey has been documented in the media, from press appearances to on-stage performances.

His short, thick afro gave him the foundation for his dreads to begin forming.

The freeform dreadlock style Jay-Z has adopted allows hair to grow organically into dreads without any manipulation or styling.

This style takes shape as the hair grows in random directions, and without combing or styling, the dreads remain thick and create a stand-out look. There is no maintenance technique or root parting system, so the dreads form how nature intends.

A More Detailed Look

A closer look at Jay-Z’s hair tells us that he has 10-20 thick dreadlocks across his head. Some mistake these dreads for wicks style dreadlocks, but they are in fact freeform.

We know this because wicks dreads are typically fewer in number and much more gravity resistant than freeform dreads. Jay-Z hair points downwards whereas those with wicks hair have dreadlocks that stand up straight.

So why did Jay-Z decide to change his hair? In an interview with WKYS radio station in Washington, D.C, Jay-Z states that he’s continuing his past ritual of growing out his hair while he writes his new album, only, for this album, he decided to grow freeform dreads instead of his usual afro. 

How You Can Achieve His Look

For those with afro-textured hair, having your own freeform dreads like Jay-Z is achievable.

The density of this texture allows the hair to form into thick dreads that keep their shape. There are a few things you can do to achieve dreads like Jay-Z’s.

Consult A Loctician

While freeform dreadlocks do not need any kind of manipulation, it is advised that you see a loctician before committing to this look.

A professional can assess your hair and tell you how healthy it is and whether or not it has the potential for freeform dreads.

They can also give your hair a deep clean before you begin styling your hair, and the loctician can also tell you how to wash your dreads if you decide to start growing them.

Separate Your Roots

Separate Your Roots

As your hair begins to grow, you will need to section your hair so the dreads can begin to form. There is no pattern you need to follow, you just need to twist parts of your hair as it grows.

How you decide to do this is completely up to you. Once it is twisted and sectioned, a foundation is formed and your dreads will begin to take shape. This is an important step to ensure your dreadlocks don’t fuse together. 

Be Patient

Growing your hair and forming dreadlocks takes time. You need to have patience as your hair gets longer and your dreads take shape.

As long as you keep taking good care of your hair and separate your roots on at least a weekly basis, your hair will do the rest for you.

A good diet, drinking plenty of water, visiting your loctician for monthly deep cleans, and protecting your hair and scalp at night will ensure that you have fantastic, full-formed freeform dreads.

Be sure to keep a strict routine in place when growing out your dreads.

Jay-Z’s Hair Over The Years

1996 – 2017

From the beginning of his music career until 2018, Jay-Z was often seen with two hairstyles – a traditional low cut, trimmed tight to the scalp, and a mini afro while he recorded his many albums.


In 2018, Jay-Z would begin to grow out his afro and twist it into sections to create a foundation for his freeform dreads. He was first spotted with this style during his “On the Run II” tour as his dread began to form.


Jay-Z’s hair continued to grow and his dreads began to take shape. He was seen at the “SOMETHING IN THE WATER” festival in April of 2019 with longer hair and semi-formed dreads.


In 2020, Jay-Z was spotted on the streets of New York City with fully-formed dreads that freely adorned his head.

2021 – 2022

Now, Jay-Z’s hair is long and thick, with freeform dreads pointing in all directions. His hair falls around his shoulders and will continue to grow until the completion of his new album.

To Conclude

Jay-Z is an icon in the rap industry and is known across the world as one of the best artists in his genre. His career spans decades and his style is looked to as an inspiration by many people, especially his freeform dreads.

First started as part of his music writing ritual, Jay-Z has made his hair a part of his look as he embraces the form of his natural, afro-textured hair.

He truly has evolved throughout the years, and with these dread-styling tips, you can achieve this look too.

Joseph Pais