“Show me something natural like afro on Richard Pryor. Show me something natural like ass with some stretch marks”. Everyone has had an opinion on Kendrick Lamar’s latest song, Humble. Many people also had an opinion on the above lyrics.
While discussions of women’s bodies and the male gaze isn’t new, conversations about natural hair seems to be creeping in to what men prefer. The momentum of the natural hair movement hasn’t slowed down and it seems that men also want to add their voices to the movement. Kendrick Lamar is certainly not the first rapper to express their desire and appreciation of natural hair. Wale released a song, Black is Gold, accompanied by a video which celebrated the diversity of black women which includes a woman with natural hair in a taped cut. R’n’b crooner, Usher, recently released a video saying: ‘I like my natural hair. I like your natural hair, baby. Grow it females, I appreciate your natural hair. Let me see it”. However, not all men are for natural hair. in 2011, Method Man said “No. I don’t like peasy afros, sorry. I don’t like dreads either. I like a woman to get her hair did.“.
As a rapper, Method Man comes from a culture (hip hop and rap) that notoriously doesn’t subscribe to female empowerment which also creates sexist and misogynistic videos that reflect the lyrics. While Kendrick Lamar and Wale have stepped away from this hyper masculinity and state their preference that doesn’t necessarily align with what their fellow rappers are saying, does that give them the authority to comment on what a female should look like? Are men who state they prefer “natural looking girls” just as damaging? However, we do live in a highly filtered, flawless chasing society and Lamar was critical of this. Lamar was calling for diversity of women which Wale did attempt to show in his Black is Gold video. Moreover, we may be viewing the lyrics at face value; we all know that Kendrick Lamar is a master of subliminal and layered meanings. Simply, this debate would not have occurred if a female rapper/singer expressed the same sentiment about natural hair like Kendrick Lamar’s Humble.
There are certain nuances in conversations surrounding natural hair, however the conversions are there. It’s encouraging to see that women, as well as men, have come to see the beauty of natural hair.
What do you think? Is there room for men to join in the conversation about natural hair?