Afros have been what’s hot in the streets since before hot combs were invented. In the mid-1960s, the hairstyle became a full-on fashion trend when it gained popularity both inside and outside the black community. During the black power movement, Afros symbolized a reawakening of racial pride and promotion of an Afrocentric culture and standard. ’Fros were equal parts cool and “stick it to the man” for a new generation demanding change.
And today, with natural hair being very much on the rise, everything old is new again when it comes to fluffed-up ’fros. In nailing down our top 10 celebrity Afros, we had go back in time to include the greatest-of-all-time ’fros as well as some of the newcomers who are slaying the modern update of the iconic hairstyle. No doubt someone is scrolling through saying, “What about Angela Davis?” or “How could they leave out Shaft [Richard Roundtree]?” Those Afro greats have made their share of best-’fros lists and will be honored every time someone uses a pick with the fist on the end. It is nearly impossible to narrow down all of the best Afro looks to 10, but here are the celebs who made our list.
Shayna Watson is a freelance style and beauty writer who can be heard saying “Natural hair is a lifestyle” at least once a day. A Pittsburgh native, she currently lives in a shoe-box apartment in Brooklyn, N.Y.—which is fitting, since she really loves shoes. You can check out her personal style musings on A Nu Creature and follow her on Instagram.
Esperanza Spalding is a bassist, cellist, singer, songwriter and Afroed beauty who started wowing us with her debut album, Junjo. She has been rocking adorable twists lately, but we have not forgotten what awesomeness lies beneath. Her fall 2016 tour is underway, and we can’t wait to hear new music from the songstress—and continue our hair crush.
As soon as the photos of young Barack Obama sporting the beginnings of a TWA surfaced, we knew the country was in great hands. After all, does it get any better than an Afro, a leisure suit and Hawaiian leis? Plus, the adoring hug from his white grandmama makes this picture so great. We at The Root are also huge fans of his high school basketball pictures, where the ’fro is in full force and he is giving us classic lanky ’70s ballplayer. You will be sorely missed, Mr. President, but this ’fro will live on in our hearts forever and ever.
On her 1997 release, Baduizm, Erykah Badu gave a much-needed public service announcement to those rocking the ’fro on a freestyle skit track simply titled “Afro.” She reminded us all of the importance of picking out our Afros, and the undesirable result of failing to do so. Badu has had some gorgeous Afros over the years, so we will listen to whatever she tells us about keeping them fly.
Colin Kaepernick went from football player to political powerhouse when he chose not to stand for the national anthem. In deciding not to take the expected stand, he joined the ranks of Jesse Williams and Amandla Stenberg in being labeled #WokeBae for being equal parts activist and adorable. Kaepernick’s ever-growing ’fro does it for us—we support it all.
Tracee Ellis Ross is the #BlackGirlMagic gift given to us by the always supreme Diana Ross. While the Ross women are giving us real-life family ’fro goals, the TV mother-daughter duo of Tracee Ross and Yara Shahidi has similar “Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree” vibes. The glisten from their glorious curly Afros shines through our TV screens weekly on the hilarious show Black-ish.
Not only did “Loving You” make folks think they could hit those whistle-register soprano runs, but it also inspired an endless number of nature-themed ’fros for everything from weddings to music festivals. Minnie Riperton was the singer-songwriter sweetheart of the ’60s and ’70s, creating many timeless classics until she was taken from us too soon at 31 years of age in 1979. Thankfully, she left us with great tunes, covetable style direction and funny girl Maya Rudolph.
Michael Jackson had the ill Afro—there is no denying that—and he is totally stealing the show in this group picture. However, Jackie, Tito, Jermaine and Marlon are right up there with the ’fro honors, and giving us as many freshly picked strands as their little brother. All familial rotations of the Jackson 5 were musical gold, and never disappointed in the fashion or hair departments.
While we were basking in the glow of a new album from Solange Knowles, it seemed only right to also honor those superior strands she has graced us with. The songstress has been very candid about wearing faux pieces to enhance her hair while protecting her natural hair. She channeled Minnie Riperton in her stunning wedding look when she donned baby’s breath, and reminded us just how strong #BlackGirlMagic is in her 30th-birthday-party look.
We have lost some greats in 2016, but the loss of this legendary music icon was rough on so many levels. Prince put amazing tunes in our ears across three decades through the music he sang, as well as the many hits he wrote and produced for other artists. In addition, he helped redefine the definition of masculinity and open up the way for freedom of style expression. A part of his legacy that must not be forgotten is this perfect halo Afro; and he definitely understood the power of heavenly hair.
The models on the front of the Afro Sheen Blowout Kit box are pretty noteworthy in the ’fro department, but the couple in the commercial really blew our minds. They filled us in on all the benefits of having a fuller ’fro, while simultaneously making us want to do everything in our power to pick out our Afros to the max. Including these two may be a bit of a stretch on a celebrity list, but they are strand stars in our eyes. Afros that great must be praised.