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8 J Cole Hair Styles – Locs and Dreads Evolution and History

aida turner

Published by Aida Turner

Fact checked by Annie

Key Takeaways:

  • The J Cole hairstyle is characterized by the J Cole dreads and locs Afro hair type in short, medium, and long hair lengths.
  • This hairstyling goes back in history as a cultural representation of African-Americans, but it has been popularized by artists such as J Cole in the mainstream media.
  • Although the styles are primarily intended for those with Afro-textured hair, other hair types can still ace this look with the proper guidance from a loctician.
  • It’s easy to do; wash away the oil, section, twist, and let it grow!

Jermaine Lamarr Cole, or J Cole as he is popularly known, is a rapper that’s been nominated multiple times in different award-winning bodies like the Grammy Awards and Billboard Music Awards.

This 37-year-old rapper and producer began his journey by producing hip-hop mixtapes when he was 15.

After that, he embraced his journey with patience and a love for mellow-aggressive lyrics and tunes incorporated into his music videos.

With his rapping skills and ears for music, it has been undeniable that he has dominated the industry.

Yet, it is not just his tag as one of the rappers who can top the charts that made him who he is, nor his catchy rap lyrics and song release; it is also his hair growth through the years.

We know how much you would love to get to know him from another viewpoint, so we’ll show and discuss with you 8 different J Cole hairstyles and their evolution.

When Did J Cole Get Dreads?

J. Cole, the renowned rapper and producer, began his journey towards growing dreadlocks around 2016. This marked a significant transformation in his appearance, coinciding with a deeper evolution in his music and public persona. The process of growing dreads is gradual, and for J. Cole, it symbolized a period of personal growth and introspection.

By the time he released his critically acclaimed album “4 Your Eyez Only” in December 2016, his hair had already started to lock and form the early stages of dreads. This change in hairstyle was not just a fashion statement but also a reflection of his evolving identity and artistic direction. Over the next few years, his dreads continued to grow and mature, becoming a distinctive part of his image.

Cole’s decision to grow dreads can be seen as part of a broader cultural and personal statement, embracing a more natural and authentic look that resonates with his introspective and socially conscious lyrics. His dreads have since become iconic, representing his journey and growth both as an artist and an individual.

What is the J Cole hair name?

He parades the J Cole dreads characterized by semi-freeform locs. The semi-freeform locs is a styling technique for Afro-textured hair that entails less manipulation while promoting natural hair growth.

Nonetheless, semi-freeform can also be called cultivated locs and has been recognized as one of the protective hairstyles for people of African descent. [1]

Yet, these are not just made to protect the strands from environmental damage, as semi-freeform locs are also known to be a cultural hairstyle, embodying the struggles of black people during the period of slavery.

Importantly, these hairstyles stood out and became a foundation for justice in court cases, such as with Jackey Wright and Redish McPherson. [2]

J. Cole’s Hair Care Routine

J. Cole’s distinctive hairstyle isn’t just about the look—it also requires dedicated care. Maintaining healthy locs involves regular washing with residue-free shampoos to avoid product buildup, conditioning to keep the hair moisturized, and using natural oils like jojoba or argan oil to nourish the scalp and locs. Regularly retwisting the roots helps maintain the shape and prevent locs from merging.

8 J Cole Hairstyles – Hair Evolution

The J Cole dreads have deep roots that are not just for aesthetics but are also used for paying respect to history. With this, we give you 8 iconic Cole hairstyles and his hair evolution!

J Cole Dreads

The best way to start this list is through the J Cole dreads. J Cole’s dreads are tied in a pony with different sections of strands in front to achieve a picture-perfect look for interviews that closely shows off his facial features.

This thick hair growth of J Cole’s dreads is beneficial to protect the strands from shredding and harsh breaking (and lessen your worry, too!) because it does not need much manipulation.

J Cole Locs

Another J Cole’s hair in the article is the locs. These thick Afro locs closely resemble dreads, and in the ordinary eyes, they are of a similar look.

Yet, for the locticians, the former vary from thick dreads because of the parting system, making the locs’ sections tidier.

Moreover, the loc is a good hairstyle addition as it suits individuals from every generation in either casual or formal events (e.g., interviews, document signing).

J Cole Freeform Locs

Freeform locs grow organically without much manipulation, and their result is impressively similar to J Cole’s image above.

Aside from its simplicity, freeform locs provide healthy hair because there will be little to no buildup of toxic chemicals on the head, which can cause itchiness and irritation.

J Cole Short Hair

Before growing dreads, Cole emphasized the beauty of natural coils in Afro-textured strands through a short hairstyle which he also sported by Cole in his music videos (e.g., Apparently released in 2014).

REMEMBER: Short styles are an essential foundation of healthy dreads.

J Cole Long Hair

With his creativity in his music journey, Cole surely knows how to incorporate his style and personal integrity, just like in this long J Cole’s dreads.

Long J Cole’s dreads explain freedom from oppressive forces as it lays beyond the shoulders. This is closely similar to going beyond the bars that have been holding you back from future success.

His long dreads have also been upkept using headbands and ties, especially during a basketball game when he was still a part of the Rwanda Patriots Basketball Club.

As a type of styling, the thickness of these long dreads entails high-maintenance with longer wash time and tons of moisturizing.

FUN FACT: He was released from the Rwanda Patriots Basketball Club for family obligations in 2021. [3]

J Cole No Hair

The best way to adapt to hot weather is to go for a bolder look in a buzz cut, which Cole has done before having the popular dreads and locs, he has sported a buzz cut

Having a buzz cut (along with proper combing) before and after dreads and other protective styles can protect your Afro hair by letting the roots and strands breathe.

Yet, before doing this, ensure you have your hope and patience intact because it takes four to six months before your hair grows to get another round of J Cole dreads evolution.

J Cole Nappy Hair

The nappy hair type is characterized by tight coils prone to drying. Yet, this style is an excellent opportunity where you can elevate the hair care game for a prominent J Cole dreads evolution

It makes the following much easier to do:

  • Proper J Cole’s dreads sectioning
  • Hydrating J Cole’s hair for dreads

J Cole Hair Twists

Last in this list of J Cole dreads evolution are his twists which became a foundation of semi-freeform locs, done by literally twisting the sections of the hair in a parting system.

Before twisting, deep clean or condition your roots to eliminate product buildup that can hinder the naturally beautiful growth of your J Cole dreads evolution.

How to get hair like J Cole?

Getting J Cole’s dreads is easy. But first, you need to have all these materials ready before diving into the whole J Cole’s dreads and locs process, especially when you want to DIY:

  • Grow Your Hair: Start by growing your hair to at least 6 inches to give enough length for dreadlocks. The longer your hair, the better the dreads will look.
  • Hair Type and Texture: J. Cole has naturally curly and coarse hair, which is ideal for dreadlocks. If your hair is not naturally curly, you can still get dreads, but it may require more maintenance and care.
  • Sectioning: Divide your hair into sections. The size of each section will determine the thickness of your dreads. Use small rubber bands or clips to hold each section in place.
  • Twisting or Backcombing: For the dreadlocks method, you can either twist or backcomb each section.

How Long Does It Take To Grow Dreads?

The time it takes to grow dreads can vary widely based on hair type, the method used, and how fast your hair grows. Generally, it can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years to achieve fully matured locs. Some methods, like backcombing or crochet, can produce more immediate results, while others, like freeforming, take longer as the hair naturally mats and locks over time. Consistent maintenance and patience are key to achieving the desired look.

Locs Maintenance Tips

For those looking to achieve and maintain J. Cole’s iconic locs at home, here are some tips:

  1. Start with Clean Hair: Always begin the locing process with thoroughly cleansed hair.
  2. Sectioning: Use a rat-tail comb to create even sections, which will help in forming uniform locs.
  3. Twisting: Twist each section tightly and secure it, using a natural gel or locking cream if necessary.
  4. Drying: Ensure the hair is completely dry after washing to prevent mildew.
  5. Routine Care: Maintain a regular washing and retwisting schedule every 4-6 weeks to keep the locs neat and healthy.

J Cole hair tutorial

If you have all the materials needed, then you are ready to proceed with this step-by-step guide to getting J Cole’s hair:

  1. First, wash and lather your strands and scalp with the Jamaican Mango & Lime Tingle Shampoo & Protein Conditioner to remove prior product buildup on your scalp. Rinse.
  2. Second, dry your strands using the 50sacks Microfiber Hair Towel Wrap for Curly Hair and Thick, Long Wavy Hair or the Bed Head Curls-in-Check 1875W Hair Diffuser Dryer for easier sectioning.
  3. Third, section your strands with the Louise Maelys 2pcs Wide Tooth Tail Comb for Curly Hair Styling according to your preferred thickness or thinness.
  4. Fourth, twist or roll each section of your hair using your palm to create a base for the J Cole dreads similar look.
  5. Lastly, be patient and let the hair grow organically and shape independently.

FYI: As we noticed, other individuals create a dread using back-combing as they explain it to be a more straightforward process in achieving matting.

How much is a J Cole hair style?

His hairstyle costs $75 to $200 depending on different factors, such as:

  • Style
  • Skills and materials needed to achieve the style
  • The barber, loctician, or stylist’s fees (if you will not DIY)


We know how much of a fan you are, so we catered to some of your frequently asked questions in this section:

Why did J Cole grow his hair?

He began to grow his hair in 2013 to achieve freeform dreads. This protective styling technique for Afro-textured hair holds societal relevance in connection with the struggles of African-Americans.

How long has J Cole been growing his hair?

He has been growing his hair for ten years since 2013.

How to maintain the J Cole hair style?

To maintain healthy hairstyles like Cole’s, you must frequently wash and clean your head and hairline. This will prevent adverse effects from oil and dust buildup that may hamper your loc and natural ties.

Final Words

J Cole’s hairstyles varied in length and size throughout his journey as a rap artist and mixtapes and video producer, which fans and media did not fail to notice.

Nevertheless, this article is a testament that his style is easy to recreate if you have suitable materials and if you follow the step-by-step method above.

Now that you know how to do the 8 hairstyles in this list, it’s time to get the dreads you’ve always wanted (and hope you can pull them off)!

aida turner


Founder & Hair Beauty Specialist

I’m Aida and this is my blog where I write mostly about beauty and make up related stuff, but I like to spice it up a bit with lifestyle and photography posts. Or with whatever that comes to my mind. Hope you will enjoy the reading enough that we will ‘see’ each other more often!