R&B singer Lloyd, formerly of Irv Gotti's Murda Inc. label, made a bold announcement on VIBE.com last week when he decided to undergo the big chop. The singer who had hair as long and as silky as Chilli from TLC, built an identity that seemed somewhat synonymous with his hair. Whether it was juiced up with curl activator or braided up in elaborate cornrows, Lloyd seemed to take great pride in his long, flowing mane.
Lloyd says that his haircut is for a good cause (in this case his chopped strands will go to Locks for Love), but it's also likely that he is casting the die with an image makeover as he embarks on relaunching his solo career post-Murda Inc.
Even though hair styling is often more associated with women, hair has actually played a major role in the careers and livelihoods of men for ages. The biblical story of Samson, for example, tells the tale of a man who is blessed with immortal strength, so long as he doesn't cut his hair. When his lover, Delilah, betrays him and cuts his blessed mane, Samson becomes weak.
The same can hold true in pop music. For some artists, cutting their hair can be the equivalent of the Samson Effect, resulting in a loss of popularity, success and relevance. But others have used their newfound looks to their advantage, finding renewed success in their shorter dos. It's unclear right now which side of the coin Lloyd will fall on, but looking back on those who've gone down the path before him might give us a clue.
Check out the guys who've cut it all off in the name of change
Long hair: Lil' Bow Wow breaks out onto the scene as Jermaine Dupri's newest little protege. Not since Kris Kross has a little rapping kid in braids caused such a flurry of attention. Girls immediately fall for the pint-sized rapper and his debut album cracks the top 10 of the Billboard 200, winning him double platinum certification in the end. As he released albums, Bow Wow's popularity with the 106 & Park crowd only seemed to grow.
Short hair: As Lil' Bow Wow grew older, he began to make drastic changes to himself. First, he dropped the "Lil'" from his name, booting him the club of "Lil's" in hip hop. Then, he chopped off his iconic braids for his 2006 album The Price of Fame. Things started out decently, as he was able to land a moderate hit with Chris Brown on "Shortie Like Mine," but after that, Billboard and Bow Wow parted ways like Moses and the Red Sea.
Samson Effect?: Gonna have to go with a YES on that one. Though Bow Wow's career was always more noteworthy on 106 & Park, he fell off hard after he cut his hair. Guess there was something potent in those beads at the ends of his braids.
Long hair: With his silky tones and scrappy "movin' on up" anthem "Gotta Make It," Trey Songz, with his street-friendly cornrows, seemed like a rising star. Though the song received moderate airplay, it never went anywhere, petering out at #87 on the Billboard Hot 100. The follow-up single "Gotta Go" did slightly better, but again, no major impact. The lead single to his sophomore album, "Wonder Woman," tanked and the album only produced one hit, "Can't Help But Wait." The trend was beginning to form and there was clearly some dead weight hanging around Trey.
Short hair: But everything changed when Trey Songz unveiled his short hair cut. Gone were the labyrinth of cornrows. The singer's bold cut also came with a bold sense of sexuality. On his third album Ready, Trey wanted to have sex so loud that the neighbors could hear, boasted he'd already invented sex and wanted to pour something down the ladies' throats. He scored his first top ten single on the Billboard Hot 100 with "Say Aah" and established himself as a force in the R&B arena, even knocking Usher off of his game for a minute.
Samson Effect?: Not here! Trey flourished once he decided to take the clippers to his head.
Long hair: Well, if you count B2K, there's lots of sold-out concerts and a few platinum plaques. Once the braided-up, long-haired singer went solo, things were shakier. His first two solo albums O and 21 opened at #1 on the Billboard 200, but the sophomore set failed to even reach gold status, despite the Timbaland-produced hit single "Ice Box." Was O's long mane cursed by J-Boog?
Short hair: When Omarion debuted his short do, fans were torn. Some fans had difficulties relinquishing their attachment to O's long hair, while others embraced the fresh, short hair style. But his music career was none the better for it. His third studio album Ollusion has flopped embarrassingly and he's taken up a judging gig alongside fellow struggling musicians such as JC Chasez and Lil' Mama. Yikes.
Samson Efect?: In the words of B2K, "Uh huh."
Long hair: Salacious wordplay on his debut single "What's Your Fantasy" attracted most people's attention before Ludacris' cornrows and braids did, but they were a consistent part of his image nonetheless. It played a role in his afrocentric image for some songs like "Saturday," in which he wore his afro picked out. His music only grew more and more popular with each album, though he received criticism for being a singles rapper, with some lodging the complaint that he couldn't produce a solid album.
Short hair: But with 2006's Release Therapy, Ludacris got the recognition he was looking for, walking with the Best Rap Grammy. He kicked off the album by showing off his surprising new low cut, which was generally received well. Everything wasn't rosy though, his follow-up to Release Therapy, Theater of the Mind, didn't match the success of previous albums. Thankfully, he has since bounced back with his latest album, Battle of the Sexes.
Solomon Effect?: Nah. Luda's power was always in his mouth, not on his head.