Three Years Worth of Neo-Soul Inspired Natural Hair Lessons

Often while I’m detangling or twisting up my hair — in between episodes of Law and Order: SVU — I reflect on my life. My hair and I have come a long way* in the past three years (peep an old YouTube video). One of the few things that hasn’t changed about me is my taste in music. I’ve been a neo-soul lover from ever since I can remember; in particular, the female voices of the genres have soothed and uplifted me on many days. Now that I’ve got a little more than three years worth of kinks growing from my scalp, I figured it was high time I’d share what I’ve learned along the way with the help of some of my favorite female lyrical poets.

“Some times you just have to let it go, leaving all my fears to burn down”
(Goapele, Closer)

Wearing my hair in its kinky state was the first step in a continual process of breaking free from the grip of fear. Fear of failure, fear of letting someone down, fear of not being liked, fear of not being accepted, fear of not being respected, fear of not being loved, etc. Once I cut my hair and was able to see the true reflection of myself as I was created, I started to become more confident in who I was, what I valued, and what I wanted to accomplish. Ever since, I’ve been moving closer to my dreams.

“Now don’t you understand man universal law, what you throw out comes back to you, star”

(Lauryn Hill, Lost Ones)

Translation: you reap what you sow. If you give your hair love, it will flourish. If you’re rough with it, impatient, or overbearing, it will be rude to you. A fine toothed comb will break both your strands and your spirits. Good hair practices result in strong hair, and strong hair is healthy hair. That’s the magic formula right there! And you thought it was 2 parts shea butter + 1 teaspoon argan oil + 1/2 a pig’s foot…

“You know what they say, everything ain’t for everybody”

(Jill Scott, Cross My Mind)

Cantu might work for every single kinky haired individual under the sun, but does nothing for you. You don’t retain length in minitwists, and curlformers take you 7 hours to put in. All of that is fine, natural haired women aren’t monolithic. Figure out what works for your hair, your budget, and your lifestyle. And then do it. It is beneficial to seek advice from others with similar hair texture/type/density/porosity as you, but you will drive yourself crazy replicating someone else’s product stash, concoctions, and 5 stranded twist out braid coil. Take time to learn your personal needs and abilities, and stick to what works. Don’t get sucked into product junkeeism and the search for the perfect kink or curl.

“Hold your head as high as you can, high enough to see who you are [little man]”

(Esperanza Spalding, Black Gold)

This lesson is two-fold: keep your head up and keep it high for yourself. Despite the hiccups that may come along the way, remain positive about your hair. Take pride in it. Wear your crown as if it’s your most beautiful piece of adornment (it is!). Not everyone will like your hair or your decision to wear it as is. You might get a lot of side eyes, raised brows, and challenges to your commitment to kinky hair. But you don’t walk with your head high, naps outstretched to the heavens to conform to anyone’s standards, or gain anyone’s approval. You sashay around with your kinks raised high for YOU!

Coincidentally, all of these artists have (or had at one point) signature looks characterized by their kinks. Perhaps my 15-year-old self was onto something while I listened to the likes of Lauryn, Jill, India, and Alicia while doing my homework, but I definitely didn’t know their words would help illuminate some things about my own hair years later.

What important lessons have you learned during your natural hair journey? Have you found that certain artists “speak” to your hair more than others? Discuss below!

*Just want to take a second and shout out Jesus for deliverance from those colored contacts!

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  1. I learned patience. What works for one doesn’t necessarily mean that it works for me. Music artist I would have to say Erica Badu.

  2. Great use of lyrics! I have never seen it done this way 🙂 I think neo-soul is just the inspiration some of us need. Music speaks to the soul.

    1. Thanks Stephanie! Feel free to share, and subscribe to the website at the top right of any page 😀