For those with a sense of nostalgia, or who just want to expose their follicles to the grandeur of the bygone barbering days as part of some “new year, better-feeling you”-type resolutions, Everything is Real barbershop in Roxbury’s Dudley Square is at your disposal. And for owner Allah Mathematics Allah, feeling good ultimately starts with looking good.
“A good haircut [will] change your overall mood,” say Allah. “You could have no money in your pocket and have a good haircut and feel good, versus a three-piece suit and not have a haircut and something just ain’t right about it, you know?”
After studying at the oldest barber school in the state, the Mass School of Barbering in Quincy, Allah mentored at Uncle Bill’s Unlimited Ubu in Mattapan Square, and later under the wing one of the famed Lawson brothers whose teachings, Allah says “really gave me the gist of things, like how to communicate [and] make people feel good after you cut their hair … it’s another level of barbering.”
The shop has been a labor of love since opening in 2007, bringing a mix of approachable charm, old-school-meets-hip-hop vibe, classic arcade games, and community events like book drives, customer appreciation days, and cookouts like the one they threw at Franklin Park this past summer with over 400 people coming out for dancing, potato sack races, pinata smashing, and eating. “People come out [to these community events] to exchange knowledge and information, and to get to know each other in the community,” he says. “The barbershop is the pillar of the community.” Everything is Real also brandishes some amazing antique trade furniture, like the 210-pound vintage barber chairs from the 1920s lining the workspace. But in the end, it’s Allah’s skills and sense of camaraderie that bring people back.
“A man never forgets his first barbershop,” he says. “The smells, the sounds, the imagery. That’s what I do … create strong, positive images for the youth to use in the future. Maybe giving a young man a dictionary, or a backpack, or just a free haircut. Or solace. If you’re going through a lot and want to just sit down and vent, [this] is where you can do that.”
EVERYTHING IS REAL. 182 DUDLEY ST., ROXBURY. 617-524-2887.
Dan is a freelance journalist and has written for publications including Vice, Esquire, the Daily Beast, Fast Company, Pacific Standard, MEL, Leafly, Thrillist, and DigBoston.