The Allure of a Barbershop [Blog]
Toronto, ON – I don’t always go to the barbershop for a cut. I mean, I do, but my mom is a hairstylist so I could continue to get free haircuts at home if I wanted to. I go for the atmosphere. I go for the debates. Somehow once you sit down in the barber chair all of the commotion of life drowns out and the barber suddenly transforms from straight razor wizard into your own personal psychologist as you tell him about the stress at your job or some new chick you met the night before and whether your more into her or her friend with the big… personality. Discussion in a good barbershop is almost unparalleled in its raw, organic nature. It’s like a window into the mind of the people. No one holds back in the shop, they speak how they feel and are passionate about it at the same time. There aren’t many places where grown men sit around and talk to strangers in such an open way.
Jack Flawless – I Get Faded (Prod. by Boi-1da)
There could be a dozen people up in the place talking women, politics, music, religion, pop culture, etc. Some topics are timeless; Biggie/Pac is a popular one. A more topical example would be something like “Jay and Kanye better ‘Watch The Throne’ because Wayne and Drake are the true heirs”. How about conspiracy theories? 2012? The greatness of Michael Jordan versus the potential greatness of Lebron James?
As you sit there, in comes a guy selling watches, kicks, or Ray Bans. Someone goes over and changes the song and a very heated debate starts up. Maybe today, the next guy in the chair is a DJ/producer/promoter/hype man/pharmaceutical entrepreneur who can’t wait to tell you about the show he’s doing later that night and he just happens to have 14 flyers in his pocket. Beside you some guy is yelling about what rapper sold out and who is actually out there “repping hardest for our city.” Meanwhile some kid just walked in and slipped everyone his new mixtape.
By the time you get up from the chair you now have a new pair of sunglasses, a jam to go to later that night, a mixtape in your pocket, and a cut so fresh that you feel better than a chick with a brand new boob job. The discussions one might hear are like windows into the mind of the people. No one holds back in the shop, they speak how they feel and they are passionate about it at the same time.
At the most basic level, the shop is like the water cooler, where people congregate away from the hustle and bustle of the city to discuss the day’s current events. But if you delve a little deeper, I think it’d be fair to say that a barbershop is more akin to the Roman forum. A forum was a gathering place of great social significance and often the scene of diverse activities, including political discussions and debates. To me going to the barbershop means more than just getting a cut. To me it means having your ear to the ground and your finger to the pulse of the city. It’s the fastest way to hear a review on a new album that was just released or hear about a hot new jam to go to. It’s the easiest way to see who is out there actually putting in the work. Support your local hustlers and drop by your local barbershop!
Kanye West once rapped, “People talk so much shit about me at barbershops, they forget to get their haircut”. This line is iconic. It has less to do with Kanye himself, and more to do with the imagery. That line speaks to us, not because it’s true, but because you wouldn’t be surprised if it was. And yes, I’ll be honest: I’ve been to barbershops and not even gotten a cut before.
The views and opinions expressed in this page are strictly those of the author and are not necessarily those of HipHopCanada or its affiliates.
Written by Alex Trifan
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