Did Michael Jordan shave his head because of Onyx?
One of my favorite Bill Burr observations didn’t take place on stage. He was talking about the ESPN 30 for 30 film The U, and for all that he liked about it, he especially enjoyed the players overexaggerating their accomplishments as people sometimes do as they get older. For example, Bennie Blades said in the documentary they were the Muhammed Alis of their era. Rapper/actor Fredro Starr is in that age group these days and made a bold claim about Michael Jordan’s iconic bald head.
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“Michael Jordan cut his hair because of us,” Starr said to Shawn Prez on an episode of Vlad TV. “Michael Jordan cut his hair bald because of Onyx.”
For members of Generation X, Starr is most known for being one of four bald-headed members of Onyx. Their top single “Slam,” has aged like fine wine over the last 30 years. For the millennials, he is most remembered for playing Brandy’s boyfriend Q on Moesha. The best part of that performance was him ironically always calling Brandy “shorty” even though she was taller than him. He would spend most of the 90s and 2000s typecasted in movies and T.V. shows.
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The clip that went viral is only 13 seconds so of course no context is offered. Perez had told him that one of the Outlawz — E.D.I. Mean — had given Onyx credit for inspiring Tupac to shave his head. Starr at first was humbly not accepting it, saying that Tupac shaved his head because his hairline was fading. He then teased Stephen A. Smith and a couple of other celebrities who he believes should get rid of their hair.
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Then Starr randomly spit out that Jordan shaved his hair because of the popularity of Onyx. That 13-second clip cuts off before he starts laughing when Perez pushes back. Unless the men in the group were bald when they first became a group in Queens in 1988, and Jordan knew who they were before they signed a record contract, the timeline does not match.
Jordan began shaving his head in the late 1980s because his hairline began to run away from him during his first MVP season in 1987-88. Any hair that he had on his head from then until 1990 was stubble. Onyx’s first major label project was Bacdafucup. It was released exactly 30 years ago, on Mar. 30, 1993.
But as Burr said, that’s what people do as they get older. The tales of our youth become much grander once retold. Think of those stories your parents tell of walking to school uphill both ways fighting through a blizzard and a tornado simultaneously. In 15 years, when I tell the story of the time that I hung out in an NFL player’s entourage for New Year’s Eve in Las Vegas in the 2010s, that player will be Cam Newton one day and Marshawn Lynch the next.
Maybe I’m getting old, but…
It is one of the few privileges of getting older. Maybe I’m telling a tall tale at the family reunion for show, or maybe my memory is leaving me and my brain is creating grand scenarios that never took place. I wish Perez hadn’t pushed back so hard on Starr’s claim and just asked him questions to see how far Starr was willing to go.
“Did Jordan tell you this?”
“Do you all use the same brand of razor?”
“Did you teach him shaving techniques during studio sessions for Bacdafucup?”
That is how you have real fun with this situation. Just let the 50-plus-year-old Starr run with this until his back craps out.
For the fortunate among us, aging is unavoidable. It comes with a lot of pains and reminders that our youth really does grow farther away by the day. So for you out there that are the age of Blades, Burr, or Starr, feel free to spin a yarn or two. Your aching knees have earned it.