Struggle's signature look is cornrows and that’s what he says, “I have always wanted cornrows to be my signature. On May 3rd 2013, I marked a special day by going back to braiding my hair after a brief hiatus during which I shaved my head. I braided my hair every 2 or 3 weeks for four years straight without any breaks.
But first, a bit of history.
I have been sporting cornrows for many years and I first got them in 2000 after Allen Iverson.
Below is an excerpt from my upcoming "Book of Experience" regarding cornrows in my life.
Отличительной чертой имиджа Страгла являются конроуз – вид косичек. Вот что он говорит по этому поводу: «Я всегда хотел, чтобы cornrows были моей отличительной чертой. 3 мая 2013 года я обозначил себе днем косичек, когда решил заплетать их снова после небольшого периода, когда я брил голову наголо. Я заплетал конроуз каждые 2-3 недели на протяжении 4 лет без перерывов. Но прежде чем идти дальше, немного истории.
Я ношу конроуз на протяжении многих лет и впервые начал их делать в 2000-м, вдохновившись личностью Аллена Айверсона. Ниже приведен отрывок из моей будущей книги под названием «Книга Опыта» относительно кос.
“I remember me watch a Chicago Bulls game back in 97 and during a time out they showed highlights video from the whole league and there was a short moment of Allen Iverson dunking. He had his straight rows. And it was hard to see it clearly for the quality was poor and I had never seen such a hairdo before neither was I familiar with Iverson himself, so I thought, “what? A girl in the NBA dunking it??” I knew something was wrong with my thoughts for they couldn’t be true but I was like what the heck is on his head? I wondered What that was not How it was done. I obviously was thinking in the box of an average Russian for I grew up and was raised among other types of men. Things were going to change.
Back in ’97 I listened to some rap but I wasn’t good at genres at all. I just listened to the music I liked. I listened to everything from pop to rap to chanson (that’s what they call music on criminal subjects basically but that’s not the exact definition of the genre). Basically that’s one of the reasons my own songs might sound totally different from each one. However getting back to Iverson. I hated the dude after having read his words in one newspaper that he wanted to overshadow MJ. Jordan has always been untouchable for me. But yet I had to get to know Allen. Since my life had started changing not in the desired direction I had to discover new people, a new role model who would strengthen my spirit, uplift me and who I’d be able to relate to. Jordan was the greatest but hardly he had to go through street issues.
That was the time when I started to come up with my role models of that time. Growing up in a good family before the parents’ divorce, my role models were Schwarzenegger, Van Damme and other action heroes, thanks to our dad who would bring all new movies on bootlegged VHS. I remember playing with my brother, pretending we were Arnold and Jean Claude respectively. In basketball my hero and role model, my icon was, of course, Michael Jordan. I learned everything from him – moves, shots, attitude to the game etc. Especially I took that fade away jumper from him. That was my main weapon on the court. Being lack of height I had to steer clear of being blocked so the fade away jumper was awesome. Big guys always shrugged their shoulders wondering how I managed to make another basket over their blocking arms all over me.
It was hell of a fun, sort of happy childhood. But after the divorce things changed. I had to face totally different, cruel, indifferent, cold and violent life. Something that I had never experienced before and something I wasn’t ready for. And I had to adjust to it pretty fast. Instead of Schwarzenegger and Michael Jordan my heroes turned out to be the likes of Allen Iverson, Tupac, Yukmouth, Outlawz – those kind of guys that were close to that street life. I needed to strengthen myself.
They became my role models and Iverson, in particular, has been my hero up to this day. Everything he had been through makes me relate to even now. Despite all the difficulties and struggles, he knew that he had to do something better with his life. So with him becoming my number one role model I tried to relate to him as much as possible.
And of course the first thing was his hair. To be honest I’ve always loved to stand out from the rest so getting them rows was the icing on the cake. However with my eagerness I bumped into my first problems – my hair was short and I had no freaky idea of who would even know how to braid them rows. I had to find out about hair length first of course. Mine was way too short.
So I remember me walk into a barbershop with a picture of AI. I was like, “I wonder if you could do something like this?” The hair dresser looked at the picture surprisingly, then at me and said, “Boy, he got it shaved” I was like “What? He got it braided.” But since my hair was short she offered me to shave them lines along the head to imitate straight cornrows. I went for it.
So it had been a few times before I decided to stop doing that and to start growing my hair. Still I had no idea who would be doing it for me. My mom was the first person to have it braided for me. She didn’t know how to do it but she did her best and after a few times rows did start to appear very nice. Normally the number of rows ranged from 7 to 11. She couldn’t do it on a weekly basis though, the way I wanted to. So I started to look around in searching for a hairdresser.
There was a girl I managed to fall in love with named Nastya Peshich. I was in the 10th grade and that’s when she came to our school but she was a year younger. I was the captain of our school basketball team and there were 4-5 dudes from the 9th grade on our team. One of them was Kolya Mikhailov, Nastya’s boyfriend. So whenever we had a practice or a tournament game she was always there to support Kolya. Me and her became really close in terms of friendship though yeah I liked her a lot and one day I revealed my feelings to her by sending her a letter. It felt crazy and pure back then somehow. I don’t remember how did we come to the point that she started to braid my hair but that what she was doing for quite some time.
I remember her doing it 2 weeks in a row. Of course I didn’t feel comfortable by asking her doing that on a weekly basis since I couldn’t afford it either for I didn’t really earn money back then. So I would bring her sweets in sign of appreciation. However she couldn’t do it as often and as regular as I needed them to be done. What is more after the graduation she left for Yugoslavia, I guess her dad was from there.
Anyway by that time my hair had grown very long but there was no one to braid it. I hated wearing a ponytail but that was what I had to do, hiding it under du rags. I didn’t have enough guts to cut my hair for it had taken me so long time to grow it to the proper length. Since those who used to braid my hair weren’t pro they couldn’t do it with short hair so the length was very important to me. That’s why I wasn’t in a hurry to cut it though I was pretty much annoyed with wearing it. However in May 2009 I cut it off and started shaving my head till 2013 when I met Lida, who did my hair on the regular basis up until the end of 2016.
Cornrows have become more than just a hairdo. I always keep them fresh. Of course sometimes it happens when my hairdresser might be busy and I’d have to wait for another 2-3 days. In this case I wear a hat or a du rag. They are very important for me and I wear them all the time. So every week or two I have them refreshed. She started braiding my hair on May 3, 2013 when my hair was barely 4 inches long. She had entwined extensions for a year before my hair length was long enough to braid it with my own hair.