When you're in a band, image is key. Your music... well, who cares, really. Your songs could sound like that homeless guy who bangs on pots and pans while he shits himself and begs for quarters on the subway-so long as you look good, or at least different, that recording contract is yours. And let's be honest: what draws more attention than 20 cubic yards of 'fro exploding off of your dome like a mushroom cloud of funk? For years this wonderful, underappreciated 'do has been used by musicians the world over as a statement-a statement that says "Hello, everyone. Say, look at me and my enormous fucking hair!"
But what has become of this once proud hairstyle in the hands-or, on the heads, we suppose-of today's musicians? CRACKED investigates the best and worst kinds of 'fro gracing the music scene today.
The "My Only Talent Is Maintaining an Awesome Afro" 'Fro
Anyone who's ever sported one knows that if you wear an afro, you become the afro. This is not a hairstyle that fades into the background-this is a hairstyle that slaps people in the face, hard, when you walk by them, forcing them to stop and stare. This is a hairstyle that defines you: you will become known as "that guy with the huge afro."
In fact, you could even wind up being known to your friends as Afroman-and this would be unfortunate, since you would then share your name with an awful novelty rapper whose 15 minutes were over faster than the Baha Men. We only mention Afroman because, despite a lack of talent, he does admittedly sport a career-defining afro. It certainly doesn't hurt that Afroman is black, since a proper, textbook afro rarely looks at home on the head of anyone without African heritage. Unfortunately, that hasn't stopped white people from trying (see The "White Rock Star Floppy" 'Fro).
SCORE: 3 Afro Picks[subtitle]The "White Rock Star Floppy" 'Fro[/subtitle]
Andrew Stockdale, the front man from Wolfmother, has the perfect example of the white rock star afro. It's huge, it's floppy. it's cumbersome and embarrassing for all concerned. More importantly, it combines with his skinny frame and penchant for tight jeans to make him look like a man-sized piece of hairy broccoli.
The band itself, either in spite of Stockdale's embarrassing 'fro or because of the "We need to look at the car wreck" mentality it creates in their audience, seems to be doing very well for themselves-both intheir quest to sell albums, and in their ultimate goal of being the least original band on the planet. What's your stance on the subject, Faith No More's Mike Patton?
SCORE: 1 Afro Pick
Somewhat less broccoli-like on the afro scale, but still worthy of some measure of disdain, are The Mars Volta's Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez-Lopez. These founding members of the most pretentious band in the world utilize the afro not for style but practicality. When the growth of their monstrous 17-minute-solo-spawning, Donald Trump-like egos reached a certain point, their heads began to swell hideously (not unlike the film Scanners). The only way they could hide their awful deformities was by growing massive afros.
SCORE: 1.5 Afro Picks[subtitle]The "My Music Is Fluffier Than My Afro" 'Fro[/subtitle]
Another afro worth mentioning sprouts from the head of a guy in the band Rogue Wave. He is white, and his band's music is frequently featured on the O.C. and sounds like baby seal lullabies. Is this what the afro has come to?
SCORE: 1.5 Afro Picks[subtitle]The "Fallen" 'Fro[/subtitle]
Sly Stone was the kind of guy afros were made for: a party animal who was determined to always look superfabulous. Sadly, years of solitude and drug abuse have transformed his once glorious afro into a scary old man Mohawk, which is one thin strip of hair away from being the exact opposite of an afro.
SCORE: 2.5 Afro Picks[subtitle]The "Samson" 'Fro[/subtitle]
We'd say the afro was cursed if it wasn't for Outkast being awesome until Andre 3000 shaved his off. He used to have a perfect 'fro to match the group' perfect albums, but now that he' trimmed it down and started dressing up as a prohibition era piano player/golfer/male stripper, the group is practically doing showtunes. Coincidence? Probably.
SCORE: 3 Afro Picks[subtitle]The "Beard" 'Fro[/subtitle]
It seems that the afro's only hope these days is to combine with the beard. Take The Roots' drummer Questlove. He's a regular posterboy for the afro. Google up some photos of the guy and you'll see, he's got more afro picks than Snoop's got weed. Hell, check his sonogram as a fetus, he probably had a wombfro.
And Questlove doesn't just have any old 'fro. His is always immaculately fluffed and as perfectly round as a summer' full moon. But more importantly, it's anchored to his head with a thick, full beard. As for The Roots, they're one of the most long-lived, successful acts in hip-hop. Sure, they're not at the top of their game anymore, but they still sell-out major venues and make white people everywhere smile.
SCORE: 5 Afro Picks[subtitle]The "Practical" 'Fro[/subtitle]
Meanwhile, the king of hair, TV on the Radio's Kyp Malone, also rocks both an afro and beard, and his band was the hottest act of 2006. Sure, he looks like a hipster version of Gizmo from Gremlins, but his band's latest album made just about every top ten list you can think of, from Pitchfork to Rolling Stone. And think about all the money he saves on hats and scarves in the winter.
SCORE: 4.5 Afro Picks
In conclusion, it' safe to say that the afro is still alive and well in the world of music. If only people would pay heed to the fact that skinny, whiny white men + afros = bad, while black men with bushy beards + afros = good.