I Hate Pusha T’s Braids (But, Not Really)
On cornrows, hip-hop and micro-aggressions
I been hated Pusha T’s braids. I’m not even really sure if they’re like, micro-braids or box braids or boxer braids or cornrows, or what folks with natural hair be calling the different variants of their natural hair like 4D, 3F or 5E… sounding like breast sizes or Duracell batteries or apartment numbers, and I don’t ever really know if we’re talking about somebody’s hair or if we ringing Greg’s buzzer for nachos and wings and beer night. Either way, I just hated them shits. I kinda low-key-but-really-seriously-high-key disliked them. They ran this excellent little mini bio of King Push on Vice (produced by Jaimie Sanchez) and all I could keep thinking about was, “Why this grown ass man who sold drugs and be rapping his ass off still got them Lil’ Bow Wow 106 and Park braids in his hair?”
His man’s doing a bid for like 30 years I think, when he’s released, Push is still gonna be rocking them braids and gonna look like the reformed gangbanger that just got back home and ain’t seen no T.V. or got any flicks from folks in the streets since South Central was in movie theaters. When him and No Malice, formerly Malice (smooth name change), emerged on the scene, they both had the low-cut fade thing happening. Cool, cool… I was in the Caesar haircut phase myself so I respected the style choice.
But fast forward to “Grindin’” and we have on our hands a new, improved Pusha T. Mind you, the whole braid thing was kind of in at this point, especially if you was a hood dude. Like, Fabolous had people out here wrapping Bounty paper towels on their heads (and misspelling the word “fabulous”), and Nelly would have dudes wearing jerseys backwards, which personally was the most uncomfortable sh*t ever, because the collar would just ride your neck and it just never really made much sense and always looked better in a music video directed by Hype Williams or Little X with like 30 half-naked women from Toronto (because, let’s face it, all the baddies came from Toronto in those days) dancing around you. Other than that, if you was wearing the Mitchell & Ness O.J. Simpson jersey backwards to Dallas BBQs at 3 a.m. on a balmy but manageable Saturday night, you just came off as a desperate wannabe shiny-suit rapper with an affinity for black men who may or may not like murdering white women *avoids spilled tea*. So Pusha with braids was okay, ya’ know? Like, at the time it made sense. Plus, Lord Willin’, Clipse’s debut album, was certified dope when it dropped.
Zoom forward to a massively long album delay and 2006 approaches. Clipse finally leaves Jive, creates Re-Up Gang and drops what I consider to be a true-to form classic with Hell Hath No Fury, with a majority of the production handled by Pharrell Williams, who some now know as the big hat guy with “Happy.” Pusha was on the cover, sitting on the stove (because, even with a record deal, folks still need to cook crack) with the crown… and those F*CKING CHILDISH BRAIDS. Come on, Push, it’s 2006… we dun landed white people on the moon, Bill Clinton on The Arsenio Hall Show playing a god damn saxophone, Dave Chappelle made the greatest sketch show of all-time, they got Snuggies out… let them braids go.
But no, not Pusha T. The “is he going to go solo” talks are all catching fire and Pusha is adding to the flames by keeping the braids. I always wondered if he got some cute Hondurian chica, or one of them super thicky thick VA jawns from around his old way to sit on a stoop Mario style and braid his hair while he sang to them or something. Maybe not. Maybe he went to a high-end salon in Milan and got one of the Frenchies to hook it up for him with that Vidal Sassoon to give it the real Soul Glo feel when he’d walk out into the streets.
Something has changed, though. Maybe because sundress season is approaching. Maybe because the atmospheric change in the climate due to the way we stay sh*tting on Mother Nature is affecting my thinking, but I dunno, I mess with Pusha T’s braids. Not on some “I’ll wear those tomorrow to the JJ and Michael Reunion Tour” happening. Nah. I can’t even grow hair on my head *pause*. Also, I don’t really believe in using *pause*, but I will say I think Pusha rocks the braids for the dudes that say *pause* after they say some f*cked up sh*t (word to Hov), or still keep Gemstars under the tongue like it’s ’94 and you still gotta hide all ya’ weaponry in the lining of your Triple Fat Goose before walking in the Tunnel (Peter Gatien sh*t). Alas, I digress.
Honestly, the real reason for the shift is MTV U.K. Yes, MTV, the gold standard for all things relevant and cool (I mean, do you see the jeans and t-shirt tuck happening? Come on, Backstreet) *slight chuckle and loud yawn*. Very recently, like “Kylie Jenner is poppin’ for no reason” recently, MTV U.K. decided that “Boxer braids” which are really just motherf*cking cornrows that folks have been getting since they was C-Walking over near where Stanley Tookie was snatching bodies, are now a “trend.” Because nothing says trend like Columbusing the sh*t out of anything created, started or invented by folks with melanin in their DNA. Bad enough we got Bill Clinton and Meryl Streep out here professing “we all got that one drop” like they was really out here in the streets willing to get their ankles cut off for Toby, but NOW, NOW we can’t even have braids. Starter jackets, Timberlands, L.L. Bean catalogs, black folks lives has been one long Who Wore It Better? episode that we have always won since the beginning of time.
MAC Cosmetics recently posted a picture on IG of the most fullest, most beautiful black, thick lips and folks in the comments were clamoring about unfollowing the page and something along the lines of comparing this woman’s lips to Jay Z’s. It’s safe to be black, unless you are black. And frankly, Pusha T’s funky ass “these my fifth grade my momma made me bologna sandwiches for school trips” braids are the epitome of this blackness. So, f*ck it. I’ma roll with the dude until the wheels fall off. Because they can try and snatch our style and grace and ideas, but they damn sure cannot snatch Pusha T’s braids off of his head. He probably came out the womb with ’em on. Those and an apron and some Pyrex. Pusha knows crack. Pusha also knows braids. I think I just came up with an idea for Nike. Pusha probably wouldn’t do it because Yeezy out here trying to doodoo on Jumpman, but maybe Adidas can steal the ‘Bo Knows’ schtick and turn it into “Push Knows” and make it hilarious like “Push Knows… salsa dancing.” Somebody gonna hire me and be so happy they did, because on my first day of work I’ma walk into that place with a Pusha T braid wig on. All hail King Push. Now, back to your regularly scheduled programming.
- I also hate Kendrick Lamar’s whatever those things are on his head, but no shade because dude is speaking for our people the same way Lil’ Boosie also speaks for our people.
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Piece was originally featured on Blavity