Ever since I moved to London, I’ve been travelling like crazy (shoutout to EasyJet). It’s addictive to say the least. While in Rome earlier this month, the last piece of the proverbial puzzle to the hip hop beard became evident. So I decided to put together a quick history lesson tracking the evolution of the beard and its influence on hip hop.
Years Active: 1500-1700 AD
Let’s face it, the Romans were rappers. All the art created in that city and you think none of them had bars? Plus, look at his beard. He was obviously part of the original State Property but in those times the crew was called “Colony Property”. They went on indefinite hiatus after the fall of the empire.
Biggest Song: Empire State of Mind
Years Active: 1861-1865
Abe Lincoln was known for his beard and freeing slaves. He was also known for spittin’ bars with the slaves in cyphers every now and then. Hence his beard. He built upon his Roman predecessors successfully maintaining his rep as a battle rapper among his fellow Republicans. Abe’s career was stopped short by a ‘hater’ and he was assassinated in 1865 leaving many to wonder if he would’ve went on to sign with BadBoy.
Biggest Song: Passed away before any official releases.
Years Active: 2003-present
Many rappers forgot about the beard foundation laid prior to them so Philly MC, Freeway, sent a reminder that with big beard comes big responsibility and bars. Freeway is known for his wordplay and voice….and more importantly, his beard. Unlike Abe, Free decided to keep the beard raw and unkempt like his vocal delivery. The beard matches the style. It does what it says on the tin.
p.s. If you follow Freeway closely, he regularly gives shoutouts to Abe Lincoln. You gotta listen real close though…
Biggest Song: Roc Da Mic
Years Active: Late 90’s – present
Rap’s first mainstream “character” is probably the most known of the beard illuminati. The groomed look of Ross’ beard speaks volumes to his laid back style and voice. Ross and Freeway were set to appear at last year’s “battle of the beards” but Ross backed out last minute due to heart complications. The battle has yet to be rescheduled…
Biggest Song: Hustlin’
Years Active: 2008-present
The newest torch carrier for the beards is mid-west representer Stalley. His beard was signed to Ross’ MMG label and shortly after Stalley was signed. Stalley’s beard lies halfway between Ross’ and Freeway’s beard while maintaining its own identity. Word on the street is that Stalley is set to embark on a hologram tour with Abe Lincoln and some early Roman MCs that have yet to be announced.
Biggest Song: ?
And there you have it. A brief history on beards and hip hop from the 1500’s to present. I feel the beard is the unspoken hero in hip hop. There definitely needs to be more research covered in this area so we can progress as a community. Maybe I’ll do a PHd on this….
*note: This post was written after hours of inhaling paint fumes….not on purpose.