Pop Smoke Freestyle Braids for 2020

One of the signs that summer has arrived in New York City isn’t the scorching heat or the stifling humidity—it’s the beat of the music traveling through the car windows that drive past my apartment and make their way into my living room. And while feeling the bass of a song usually means that my neighbors are being hella annoying, during the summer, I welcome it. I typically hear the song of the summer or the artist of the moment, and right now there’s one artist that occupies both categories: Pop Smoke.

His latest album, Shoot for the Stars, Aim for the Moon, has a booming, gritty energy that embodies a New York City summer. But the songs also come with a sense of loss; we should be in a sweaty bar, dancing to “The Woo” with our friends, and the 20-year-old rapper, who was shot and killed in a home invasion in February, should still be alive.

But in the words of the late rapper, we should still enjoy ourselves, right? To celebrate Pop Smoke, our hair braiding guru, Stasha Harris, took a page out of his book for this week’s The Braid Up, and is giving us a remix of his signature braids. Introducing the Pop Smoke freestyle braids. Even if this summer is a little (okay, a lot) different, there are still little ways we can find joy—whether it’s hanging out with a few friends, dancing in your living room to an album with your roommates, or watching a braid video inspired by your favorite rapper.

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Down to recreate the look? Here’s everything you need to know.

1. A rat-tail comb is major key. It’s the best tool to help you get the sleek parts needed to nail this look. The super-skinny tail allows you to part sections easily, so you can get sharp lines with no effort.

2. Feed in colored hair towards the end of each braid. It’s a dope way to add a pop of color to your otherwise dark braids. Stasha uses orange braiding hair, but feel free to add in whatever shade you desire.

3. Let your stylist know if your braids are too tight. Now is not the time to keep quiet—braids that are too tight can cause major damage to your hairline, your hair, and your scalp. Not a cute look, so speak up!

4. Don’t forget to keep your hair conditioned. Just because your hair is in braids doesn’t mean that you can skip out on actually taking care of it. Spritz on a leave-in conditioner mist to keep your hair from drying out.

Hair: Magic Fingers Studio; Beauty Assistant: Ama Kwarteng

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