Fro For Charity! Questlove Cuts His Iconic Hair

“I was in middle school,” Ahmir Thompson, better known as Questlove, recollected, sitting comfortably in a red armchair. Before he went on with his thought, his eyes shifted and he tilted his head back. He perused his memories, and then, as if on cue, his pet cat leapt beside him, meowing for some spotlight. Osage, named affectionately after the street he grew up on, had a significant impact on his decision for charity.

“That was the last time I had gotten a hair cut,” he completed. “Mr. Dawkins’ shop, right down the street from me on 53rd. I remember it because he gave me some wise words. I’ve wanted to go back for a cut since, but not for a trim or whatever. The words. The man knew what the people in the chair were feeling. And that stuck with me.”

You see, Osage is a rescue cat that Thompson adopted a few months ago. He claims that the cat changed his way of thinking. This much had to have been true, because as he coddled the cat, Thompson looked softer and mushier–but in a good way.

Osage as a Kitten!

Osage as a Kitten!

The courageous cat has been without hair all its life. Add that to the chill of the winter, and his recent & more frequent returns to ‘home’ in Philly, Thompson felt like he had to do something to keep Osage warmer.

“I had to shave my hair. For Osage. And to raise awareness for other hairless kittens out there.”

The iconic afro of the drummer of The Roots is now woven into a sweater for Osage. The household name once accompanied by the most memorable ‘fro since Macy Gray–or more recently Huey Freeman–might now be unrecognizable to the casual fan. But having grown up listening to The Roots since their inception in the mid-90s, and swearing that Questlove was my long-lost father (we did grow up on the same street, after all), seeing him with a close cut was as surreal as seeing a Tastykake in Manhattan.

“The hairless cats epidemic in Philly is real,” Thompson went on. I noticed that he would occasionally reach to his head. He laughed and called it ‘phantom hair syndrome.’ “I had a cat when I was a kid. He got lost and he never came back. It happened in February, right before one of the biggest blizzards in Philadelphia history.” More than 21 inches fell in mid-February in 1983. “That cat was my homie. We did homework together. He was there when I was playing my drums. And he would always mess me up when I was playing E.T. on Atari. But I would just laugh it of. I loved the guy. I know cats skip out on their owners all the time, but I was just worried that the cat stayed warm. Hopefully someone scooped him up and bought him a sweater. Or made him one.”

Sadly, cat sweaters weren’t popular in the 80s.

“I want to set an example for kids,” he said as Osage asleep in his lap. “When you’re an icon, and you appear on TV and on the radio and on concerts, people emulate what you do. They listen to you. And what I want people to hear is that you have to give more. Where’s the love? I’m on that quest.” I chuckled at his accidental pun.

“It was a shock to Tariq [Black Thought of The Roots] when we had practice that night for Jimmy Fallon. Then Jimmy came in the room and was asking, hey Tariq, where’s Ahmir?”

Thompson is giving the rest of his hair to charity. He will be raising awareness and cutting follicles in an upcoming event titled Oh My Whiskers, featuring local barbers, petshop owners, and a handful of clothing designers reigning from Fabric Row and Baltimore Avenue. Thompson has formed a partnership with Litterpaw Pets Supply and Sphynx Catwear to develop the upcoming charitable clothing line.

Rock On Philly and Okayplayer are sponsoring the event.

To learn more about Hairless Cats and Kittens and how you too can donate hair to keep them warm, click here.


Photo of Osage as a kitten via

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