The history of hip-hop haircuts spans 30 years. From the afros in the late 1970s to the neo-afros of today, hip-hop haircuts are cyclical, yet always edgy. The new styles remix the old. Hip-hop haircuts celebrate African-American hair. They are usually conservative, but infuse playfulness and a sense of pride. These are the best hip-hop haircuts in rotation, broken down into men’s and women’s styles.

Things You'll Need

Men’s Hairstyles

Shave designs into your hair. In order for this look to work, you’ll need a low, tapered haircut. Find a cool design, or a name, or logo you want to rock. Take the image to a knowledgeable barber, because this style demands skill. Ask the barber whether he can do the style before sitting down in the chair.

Cut your hair into a faux mohawk. This is a popular style in the hip-hop community. It’s not as severe as the traditional mohawk, which is one small strip of hair and the rest of the scalp bald. Instead, this style is done by shaving the sides of your hair lower, leaving a strip of hair unshaven in the middle to create a mild mohawk effect. It’s best accompanied with a V-shaped edge up in the back of your head.

Create a rat tail. A rat tail is a piece of hair at the nape of your neck that is not shaved down. This look is very tricky. You must maintain a rat tail, or else it can look untamed, and thus unintentional. Keep it low, and do not braid your rat tail.

Do a buzz cut. The buzz cut is a timeless look that works on every head shape and with every face shape. The buzz cut is simply a low-cut hairstyle. It doesn’t have to be as severe as a military cut, but it should be a uniform length over the entire head.

Women’s Hairstyles

Angle your bob. This style is marked by a sharp, asymmetrical cut. Wear your hair straight with this style, because curls don’t translate very well. Straight hair shows the intention of this cut.

Go uneven. This is a more severe version of the angled bob. This cut allows you to go curly on the longer side, and straight on the shorter side. It is definitely more daring, and not a look for work. Be willing to commit to this cut, because it is not very forgiving. If you get tired of this style, you’ll need to cut your hair to the length of the shorter side, so make the shorter side a length you can live with.

Find your curly style. This style is for those with short hair who still want to look frilly and girly. This style allows you to go straight and slick your hair back. If you choose to go curly, you can create medium curls with a hot curler, and pin them in place with bobby pins. The key to this style is controlled locks, not free-flowing hair.

Get in touch with your inner afro. This haircut is a throwback to the 1970s, the roots of the hip-hop movement. At first glance, it doesn’t look like this requires a haircut, but it does. In order to be light and fluffy, you need to cut any split ends from your hair. You also need to use a volumizer at the roots of your hair to create more volume and avoid limp locks. You may also want to invest in an afro pick to maintain your style when you’re out.


  • If you see someone in public with a great haircut, ask them where they got it cut. Recommendations are the best way to find satisfaction with a hairstylist.

  • When looking for a style for yourself, find one that works with your face shape (round, square, oval, heart).

  • Take photos with you to your stylist to give a precise description of the haircut you want.