Hip Hop

As the Afro began to wane in the 1970s, cornrows were on the rise. West African immigrants brought braiding-style techniques to the U.S. Hip-hop emerged as a predominant Black cultural movement in the 1980s. In the 1990s, hip-hop artists from Ludacris to Lil’ Bow Wow could be seen with cornrows, and stylists continued to develop new innovations in cornrow braiding, the best known from celebrity styles like those of basketball star Allen Iverson.

In yet another trend-setting television appearance in 1972, Cicely Tyson wore intricate Nigerian braids. Jackson reports that during this time several professional stylists conducted research on Africa braiding techniques through museums, and Malikia, best know as Stevie Wonder’s stylist, made a trip to Africa for that purpose.

The philly cut became its best-known hairstyle expression among men, while for women, 1980s-style weaves were receiving the most attention.

The complex geometric emphasis in new cornrow styles—perhaps reflecting the new AfroFuturist movement—is again an important reminder that math is as much a part of African heritage as Black hair.