Beards have long been considered a symbol of virility, masculinity, and skinny-jeaned hipsters in Brooklyn. Hip-hop has long been considered an art form of virility, masculinity and normal-jeaned people everywhere. So it’s only natural that hairy chins and hip-hop have have had a working relationship since the days of Melle Mel and Afrika Bambaataa.
This weekend, Joaquin Phoenix reminds us that rappers can be hairy with his documentary “I’m Still Here,” in which he attempts to start a rapping career with what looks like wild animal strapped to his face. It’s an impressive beard indeed, but where does Phoenix’s face-mane land on a list of the greatest hip-hop beards of all time? Look below and find out.
9. Insane Clown Posse
Beard Type: The Whitey
It’s kind of surprising given all the cheap jokes everyone makes about Juggalos, but Detroit natives and magnet enthusiasts Insane Clown Posse are one of the most successful independent rap groups ever. Still, there’s no forgiving their mookish, hockey fan goatees, which look more suited for a demolition rally than a cypher. But since Violent J and Shaggy have the creativity to cover them in clown makeup, they make it on the list.
8. Rick Ross
Beard Type: The Prison Guard
Rick “Teflon Don” Ross caught a lot of flack when he was outed as a former correctional officer. But we’ve forgiven Ricky’s past because he rocks one of the most well-groomed beards in the game. Plus, he’s fat. It’s impossible to be mad at a fat man.
7. Lil Jon
Beard Type: The Crunk
Crunk star Lil Jon, also known as that guy who says “yeah” a lot, manages to put down his sparkly goblet for long enough to take decent care of his somewhat straggly facial hair. If it wasn’t so patchy, he might rank higher, but his general enthusiasm has to count for something.
Beard Type: The Smooth Touch
With his hats and well-trimmed beard, Common looks like the type who fancies himself a ladies man. The beard tells the womenfolk, “I am the kind of guy whose home contains many varieties of scented oils, which will be rubbed on you for as long as I feel necessary.”
5. Joaquin Phoenix
Beard Type: The Galifianakis
Well…is it a joke? Or is Joaquin Phoenix really trying to make his mark in hip-hop? It’s possible that his new documentary “I’m Still Here” will tell us, but it almost certainly won’t. We’re just hoping he imparts some beard growing tips.
Beard Type: The Religious
Freeway has long struggled with making his life in hip-hop fit with his life as a serious Muslim. One thing he hasn’t struggled with: growing a monstrous beard. All praise to facial hair!
3. Kaine of Ying Yang Twins
Beard Type: The Ancient Egyptian
Did you know that the Ancient Egyptians used to dye their beards? That’s what Wikipedia says, and you wouldn’t want us to do any more research than that. So: Kaine is an Ancient Egyptian ruler. The mystery of the Ying Yang Twins is finally solved.
2. Rick Rubin
Beard Type: The Guru
While he may not always be thought of this way now, Rick Rubin is a hip-hop legend. Not only has he produced just about every great rapper, the guy founded Def Jam in his NYU dorm room. He continues to project a Zen-like calm over the music industry, and is, at this point, more beard than man.
Beard Type: The Funky Drummer
While the beard itself is nice, it’s the combination of ?uestlove’s beard and his super-fro that has landed him here at number one. He’s not just the coolest drummer in hip-hop, but also the coolest drummer in late night television (suck it, Anton Fig!). And it’s impossible to imagine him achieving any of this with a clean-shaven face. The question mark wins.