Philadelphia vs. Meek Mill: How One Man's Hair Journey Shaped Us All

Free Meek Mill documentary. Watch it” says one of my closest friends. 

It’s day 1500 of the quarantine and I search aimlessly for something on the ever growing Amazon Prime watchlist. I received the recommendation about Philadelphia hitmaker and superstar Meek Mill. As a New Yorker I already gathered my preconceived notion of “another Philly rapper” that he’s nice but he’s no New Yorker like Jay-Z or Nas. After putting my guard down and making some green tea, I jumped in and was immediately hooked to the miniseries. I was astonished to see someone who endured such harsh living conditions and corruption (some labeled as Killadelphia) but relieved that he rose above as a street savior and ultimately the face of criminal justice reform. His words would hit harder than a mack truck and his delivery would whiz by you like a bullet. Through all of this talented wizardry and hope he channeled into his neighborhood, he was still a target destroyed by corrupt law enforcement and over zealous legal counsel. 

You’ll have to tune into the documentary to gather the full scoop. Through local community support and industry heavyweights providing media coverage, Meek Mill came out victorious through his ongoing trials with the judicial system. His signature caesar haircut, and oh-so crispy shaped lines is a reflection of how one is able to endure thru misfortune but return back into the ring. Also home to the classic Rocky film, Meek Mill channeled his inner fighter each time he entered the courtroom only to be struck down multiple times. His hair grew longer and the stress weighed on him in that jail cell but every time he was out, the first thing you’d noticed: A fresh haircut and a smile. After having braids throughout his childhood and mixtape days, his rise to stardom reflected in his new look with a polish'd dark caesar, popularized in certain communities that represent prestige, newfound money and even respect. His barber may not have been a close friend or associate but at that moment, his signature cut was a reflection and entry into Meek’s road to freedom. 

Signature cut - Dark Caesar w/ Waves

Meek Mill’s classic caesar is paired with a shape up that would make an architect say “it's perfect.” For Meek, each fresh cut was brought with a new pair of boxing gloves because we never knew if this could be his last one as a free man. The crisp line ups reflected the new and improved man that he was bound to evolve into coupled with some gold as a symbolic kingship. This was a King who refused to be killed by a justice system that wanted to bury him and label him as “another statistic.” His masculinity and pride was restored each time that barber put those clippers to his head and that razor to his line. Meek Mill was reborn each time and he was ready to spit fire in the booth to prove it. 

Now I'm seeing M's, diamonds like water and they jumping out the gym

Shooting like Harden if your head was the rim

'Cause n***** wanna line me like a shape up and a trim...
meek mill

We see Meek tease at his beard throughout his trial hearings. Philly beards continue to remain an iconic staple in the city. Barbers are measured from the accuracy and skill set upon the client request. For some Philly residents, beards have spiritual significance and even hold a hierarchy in some religious communities. Although the beard may be insignificant while he sat in a cell, it represents his behavioral practice of patience while letting go things he cannot change. Although the justice system lacked shape and consistency, we see that Meek’s hair never did. Mirroring instances of the 1960s civil rights movement, Meek’s courageous pursuit to challenge the United States judicial system has all of his inspired next time we’re in the barber chair: Yeah, just give me the Meek Mill.

COVID19: Growing the Hair OR Buzz Cut. Consider This...

Before you take that clipper to your head. One must ask: Do I really want to suffocate my sink with all these hair strands?

But seriously, these times seem more strenuous as the days progress. Your hands have been washed so many times we've all put Mr. Clean out of a job. I know there's a lot more things to be concerned than hair but in the long run, we don't want it to collapse. It's no surprise you won't be seeing your barber, at least, for another four weeks. Tackle the critical question now of what we've all been asking ourselves since our last haircut visit: What the hell do I do now?

The buzz may sound like the immediate short solution but could carry a handful of regret and unease if not full analyzed. Some are looking for a fresh start and want to try a short look that reflects the upcoming hot season (burn the virus while you're at it). Taking a style from the GI playbook, the buzz shortens your am & pm routine with little to no maintenance. Some visit the barbershop or salon routinely to color or reshape processed hair. A short buzz can give any damaged hair some much needed relief. Refocus on other life priorities at the moment and allow your hair to take back seat...where you won't have to worry if its safe because there's nothing really there.

Once those clippers get an inch close to your scalp, there's no turning back. Barbers always say "You can take hair off but you can never [naturally] put it back on." That statement still stands so really consider that if you wish to mow it all. The look also brings itself a short routine of a clipper cutting everyday couple of weeks. You be the judge of the buzz length by properly using guards.

If you've always wanted longer lengths like Jason Momoa, dreadlocks like Wiz Khalifa or skateboard hot shot Neen Williams now is the time to shoot your shot. Being quarantined in the home is an easy avoidance to the public eye during the timely growth process. No need to answer co worker questions or family opinions as time goes on. The general upkeep on shampooing & conditioning is the number one priority. Drop a hat on the head when the growth becomes unbearable and you're looking for quick styling options (Fedoras > Dad Caps). Let your curiosity run laps as your follicles grow big & tall. There may be a new hair look you've always wanted but job restrictions or the awkward growing wouldn't allow. Now is the opportunity to witness your hair's capabilities as you maintain natural growth.

Don't get weary if the hair appears disheveled, messy or unkept. In the naked comfort of your own home, you can do little maintenance checks including clipper (or scissoring) the behind the ear and cleaning the neck routinely. Give your hair a much need break of products and watch it take natural shape. Whatever you decide, turn some heads this upcoming warm season and filter thru all the possible outcomes with a look that fits just right for you.

Joe Cole

Polish'd Tip: Introduce some beard growth, if you can, and watch that flow into your new look.