Definitions

Hi-top_fade

Hi-top fade

A hi-top fade is a style of haircut where hair on the sides is cut off or kept very low and hair on the top of the head is very long (in contrast, a low fade is when hair on the top is kept shorter). The hi-top has been a trend symbolizing the Golden Era of Hip Hop and urban contemporary music during the late 1980s and the early 1990s. The hi-top fade was common among African-American youths between 1986 to 1993 and to a lesser extent in the mid-1990s (1994-1995). The style fell out of fashion by 1996.

Evolution

In the hip hop community throughout the mid-1980s, young African-Americans leaned towards Jheri curls or simple haircuts without tapers or fades of any sort. It is also believed that the High-Fade derives from Ancient Egypt as Queen Nefertiti's famous Empress headpiece resembles the High-Fade form.

In 1986, rappers like Schooly D and Doug E. Fresh managed to wear the first, somewhat developed, styles of the hi-top fade in hip hop. However, their hairstyles lacked the geometric precision that the more modern hi-top fade styles characterized. In the hip hop community, one of the first public appearances of the more modern hi-top fade hairstyles in hip hop was in the 'Tramp' video by Salt-N-Pepa which was released early in 1987. During this time, hi-top fades weren't as prevalent as they were a few years later. In this video, the dancers could be seen with this hairstyle. They can be also seen dancing in a 'New Jack Swing' style form based on their wardrobe and choreography, which was not seen in other hip hop and R&B videos at the time.

However, by 1986 to 1987, many young Puerto Ricans, and African-Americans, especially in the New York City and Philadelphia area, began to follow the hi-top fade trend. At this time, hi-top fades became more geometrically defined, becoming more massive and 'higher' along with differences in shape as well as more designs. More music videos released at the fall of 1987 to the spring of 1988, such as "I Don't Care" by Audio Two (1988), "Move the Crowd" by Eric B. & Rakim (1987) (a few extras could be seen wearing one), "Paper Thin" by MC Lyte (1988), "Rising to the Top" by Doug E. Fresh (1988), "Do This My Way" by Kid 'N Play (1988) and "Ain't No Half Steppin'" by Big Daddy Kane (1988), shows examples of early trends of the more developed hi-top fade. Different substyles emerged around the same time such as the 'gumby' (slanted hi-top that had a shape similar to the Gumby cartoon character) or reagan (similar to the gumby but with more 'parts' and designs). Many of the teenage castmembers on the films Lean On Me (1989) with Morgan Freeman and Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing (1989) could be seen wearing these Gumby-shaped hairstyles. Sing groups like TKA, Coro and other freestyle people wore the hi-top fade.

From late 1988 to 1989, the hi-top fade was the symbol of the urban culture at the time. Rappers such as Kid 'N Play, Big Daddy Kane and Kwamé were internationally famous for helping promote this trend worldwide. In late 1988, hi-top fades even became more developed, more hip-hoppers and people outside the New York area began following this trend. This hairstyle also helped define the New Jack Swing movement in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In the video "Fight the Power" by Public Enemy which was shot in April 1989, shown how much the trend set across the world, highly symbolic of urban style at the time.

The hi-top was still semi-popular through the early 1990s, however, by 1990, many people who sported the hi-top fade style started to move toward braided styles. However, the hi-top still remained common among many groups of young adults and teenagers. As for the braided style of hi-top fades, it characterized an era of 'afrocentricity' of hip hop and embracing the alternative culture. Golden age MCs like Def Jef and the hip hop group De La Soul are known for their braided hi-top fade styles in 1989 and 1990. Many back-up dancers in many hip hop, dance, and R&B videos could be seen wearing similar hairstyles from 1990 to 1992. These heavy trend of these styles continued until 1993 and 1994 when urban hair style simplified into low-cut fade hair cuts and cornrow hairstyles. This hairstyle was also a fashion trend of New Jack Swing era. The Hi-top fade was and still is commonly called just a flattop, due to the great likeness of the two styles. In fact the Hi-top fade could qualify as another version of the flattop.

Celebrities known to have worn a hi-top fade

See also

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