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Hi-top fade haircut: It's all business

NBA players like Iman Shumpert have helped bring back the hi-top fade.

Rapper Kid of Kid 'n' Play had a hi-top fade that was 10 inches high

Big Daddy Kane had a very famous hi-top fade

Malkam Dior is a university administrator, who chose the hi-top fade because it had a professional feel.

Even our own Kai Ryssdal has a version of the hi-top fade.

If you watched any basketball this season, you might have noticed a new hairstyle gaining popularity. Well, it’s kind of an old hairstyle, actually: The hi-top fade. It was the ‘do to have back in the '80s, and now it's cropping up on the likes of Iman Shumpert of the New York Knicks, Norris Cole of the Miami Heat and celebrities like Usher.

At Against Da Grain Barbershop in Staten Island, barber Sean White says when he started cutting hair 27 years ago, the hi-top fade was all the rage. "The sides are usually faded very close and then the top is like a pencil eraser," he says. "It goes straight up, and it’s usually flat on the top."

The hi-top fade took the hip-hop community by storm. Big Daddy Kane, Salt-N-Pepa, Will Smith all had one. Rapper Kid of Kid 'n’ Play had a hi-top fade that stood 10 inches high. White says he started noticing kids asking for the cut a few months ago. "I think the mohawk is almost done, and now everybody’s getting the flattop," he says.

Part of the reason is that the style is very workable in the workplace, says New York style guru George Brescia, "If you are in finance or are in business, how do you rock the mohawk?" he says. "I think this has sort of evolved out of the mohawk, and this is a very versatile haircut."

Brescia says subtler versions of the hi-top fade can work on almost anyone. He says Robert Downey, Jr. has a version, and so does Kai Ryssdal. Thirty-year-old university administrator Malkam Dior's high top fade is five inches tall. Dior chose the style because it made a statement and had a professional feel. But the hi-top fade is a job in itself. "There’s gel, there’s mousse, there’s a blow dryer, there’s a hot comb," Dior says. "It’s hard to maintain, and it costs a lot of money and it’s a lot of work."

Dior spends $500 a month on product and weekly shape-ups and 45 minutes styling it every morning. The masses don’t seem fazed by the maintenance. Barber Sean White says he does four or five a week. "I love doing it. That’s my era. I grew up wearing that, and I grew up learning how to cut hair on that type of haircut."

Plus, White says hi-top fades stand out, which is good for business. "Everybody looks at it and asks: 'Who did that?' So, it helps me out." Oh, the importance of buzz…  

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

Rapper Kid of Kid 'n' Play had a hi-top fade that was 10 inches high

Big Daddy Kane had a very famous hi-top fade

Malkam Dior is a university administrator, who chose the hi-top fade because it had a professional feel.

Even our own Kai Ryssdal has a version of the hi-top fade.

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Yes, since the First world war soldiers, used it, and from then-on men & women had tried it, as little as solders with the top (flat top) almost skin razor to make it flat and square (square top), even Grace Jones had been portrayed with the style and just to comment the type of hair does not really matter, as long as is FLAT TOPPED, rockabilly had similarly approach the style making the front higher compare to the back part of the head .....bla, bla, bla.

I don't know who was interviewed but a high-top fade is a natural. It doesn't require "mousse, gel" or "45 minutes preparation in the morning," unless they were speaking to a bi-racial person. For an African-American who is not bi-racial, our hair texture naturally for most of us is what you would see in an afro. It can stand on its own without mousse or gel, that is the nature of our natural hair. It is soft and curly and does not lay down like most other ethnicities hair. Anyone who requires 45 minutes, mousse and gel is probably rocking a pseudo high-top fade. I figure they must've interviewed Vanilla Ice for that misleading info lol

And NO Kai does NOT have a high top fade!!

That was back in the days............My hair texture is very different which requires gel and mousse. It is not misleading at all, it all depends on who you are and where you come from, then you can speak about your own experience with your own Hi Top Fade.

I'm with you. I had a Nefertiti in the 1980s. The style was a less severe version of the fade. I didn't use mousse or gel. I didn't spend 45 minutes on my hair.
And No! Kai doesn't have a high-top fade.

The Hi-Top High is back.... I recall one day when I was riding the subway and a group of about 6 or 7 teenagers yelled out to me that "the 80's called and they want their hairstyle back" as a way of disrespect towards me. Little did they know that there are more people jumping on the bandwagon as celebrities like Usher, and Soulja Boy to NBA players such as Iman Shumpert began to catch on as well...I love it.

Salt n Pepa had a high top fade? They are women! While they did rap about it (it's Friday night and I just got paid/ I'm checking out the fella with the high top fade). Check those facts, reporters!

Given Kai's naviator background, maybe it's more of a wind-swept flattop. New fashion trend? For me, an enviable concept.

Kai doesn't have a fade he has a regular men's tapered hairstyle. Which doesn't necessarily mean he's regular, just that the style is. Thanks for talking about men's hairstyles on a show about money and the economy.

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