According to philosopher king and wordsmith savant E-40 Fonzarelli of the Vallejo, Calif., Fonzarellis, “Jesus Christ had dreads. So shake ’em.” I ain’t got none, but I’m planning on growing some. Or at least I would if God didn’t feel differently about my hairline and would energize my follicles. It seems rather far down his priority list, I must say.
But yeah, locs. I used to want them, badly. I had loc envy. Shit, I could barely hold on to cornrows because the strands of white supremacy wouldn’t kink or remain tightly braided atop my head. Damn you, white supremacy!
Back to locs—E-40 uttered those words in his hyphy anthem (produced by Atlanta’s Lil Jon) “Tell Me When to Go,” featuring Keak da Sneak. That song turned an entire nation on to the already locally live hyphy movement from Oakland, Calif., and the Bay Area.
While the line itself makes me chuckle—“Jesus Christ had dreads, so shake ’em/I ain’t got none, but I’m planning on growing some”—40 Water had a point. The song itself is much more enjoyable to engage with if you have locs. During the hook, at the “Tell me when to goooooooo, go DUMB DUMB DUMB DUMB” part, the video goes into hyperdrive as everybody with locs seems to be having way more fun than those without. E-40 even charges folks to “Shake them dreads,” which might be discrimination; I’ve put in a call to HR for clarification.
Point is, “Tell Me When to Go” (No. 1 on this list) is a song that has to be much more fun for folks with locs than for those of us without them, since folks with locs can shake their heads aggressively and whip their hair back and forth ceremoniously and triumphantly, and I can only watch with, again, loc envy. There’s no ceremony for me. There’s no triumph.
Here are seven more songs (out of many, many more) that seem to be ’pacifically made for people with locs.
This song is a certified banger AND a classic. And when Princess starts up with “We knuckin’ and buckin’ and ready to fight,” well, everybody I know with locs goes full fuckin’ HAM. The rest of us—some of whom are knuckin’ while others are buckin’; it’s really some Hatfield-vs.-McCoy shit—mostly try not to get caught up in a mosh pit and possibly strangled to death by a loc, THEN stomped to death as everybody gets crunk. Also, the video is remarkably subdued considering how HYPE folks get when this song comes on in church. Just my church? Oh.
Another in the Lil Jon cannon of crunktasticness, a style that lent itself to whipping your hair around and letting everybody know what time it is, crunktastically. Specifically, when the “Don’t start no shit, won’t be no shit” gets to gettin’, it feels like loc music. This was probably the first song I remember where I prayed for the lord to return my hair so I could participate the way I wanted to. Nothing doing, though.
All loc music isn’t hype. In fact, when I first heard this song playing on the radio here in Washington, D.C., I thought to myself that this would be the perfect song to chill to in a park in Brooklyn, N.Y., while having a picnic with some woman with big hair and an ankh tattoo (or Amerie) while we munched on quinoa before it was a thing and some kale chips and chewed on chewsticks ... with locs.
I’d have on a cutoff shirt that said Morehouse College. See how vivid that shit is? Oh wait, you say, that is explicitly (sans the quinoa and chips we can’t see) what happens in the video? None of that works visually without locs, fam. None of it.
India Arie’s first album, Acoustic Soul, is one of THE most underrated albums of all time, even as a multiplatinum-selling, multiple-Grammy-nominated project. This song in particular (aided by the video and Ms. Arie herself) feels like the epitome of loc music.
It’s the sound of standing in the sun in white linen while locs fall against your back. Or the sound of a club like Apache Cafe in Atlanta while locs are stuffed under knit hats or wrapped up into buns while a woman with locs sings about brown skin, also in a knit cap. Knit-cap loc hats are awesome. So is this song.
Almost a no-brainer. Willow has extendo braids in the video, but locs work just as well. It’s made for folks with hair long enough to whip back and forth without worrying about it falling out or flying across the room, and I’ve seen a wig fly across a room before—true story—and it was not a pretty sight. Damn shame what they did to that dog. Point is, any song where whipping your hair is a thing is loc music. Though if I’m being honest, I don’t see this being the song for the loc crowd.
Another no-brainer since, well, everybody in the damn video has locs. Or starter locs. Or hair that would be locked up if it wasn’t so awesome in other natural ways. Just feels like music that works better for your own life if you have locs. And straw hats. Straw hats and locs should be a thing everywhere. There’s no science here. It’s just a feeling. Can you feel it? Can you feel it?
I have always felt like this song was perfect. It would reach new heights of perfection if I had locs and could enjoy it as God intended—with my locs swaying in the gentle breeze as I stare into the eyes of an ebony goddess and say, “From the very first time I laid my eyes on you, girl ... ” Also, to be clear, ALL Bob Marley songs are perfect.