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What Is ‘Old-Head Stuff’? These Examples Might Help

If Barack Obama’s phrase caught you off-guard, you’re…well, you’re probably not Black

LEVEL Editors
Published in
4 min readJun 4, 2020
Photo: Obama Foundation via Getty Images

Update 6/7/22: Level has a new home. You can read this article and other new articles by visiting LEVELMAN.com.

Last night, after a brutal 10 days, the president of the United States finally showed up. His name was Barack Obama. And during an Obama Foundation-hosted virtual town hall about police reform, he spoke the three words we’d been longing to hear since he left office.

Was it “third term incoming”? “Michelle is running”? Both would’ve been great — but that’s not what it was. Nope.

It was “old-head stuff.”

Obviously, 44 spent the bulk of his time addressing the police violence-shaped elephant in the room and what we can do to change things. But toward the end of the town hall — after his opening remarks, after a series of interviews with folks ranging from former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to Minneapolis city council member Phillipe Cunningham, and during a brief Q&A session — he deferred to some of the other folks. “And with that, I’m gonna be quiet,” Obama said. “You don’t need to hear more old-head stuff.”

If the phrase confused you, you’re … well, you’re not Black. Old head is a status every man attains, even if he doesn’t aspire to it. It’s big uncle energy, a permanently DGAF attitude marked by an absolute certainty that the world will continue to change, but you won’t — not because you can’t but because you don’t need to. Let these damn kids figure the rest out.

Still confused? That’s where we come in. If you exhibit five or more of the following traits and behaviors, then congratulations — you’re an old head too. Don’t worry, you’re in good company.

1. R&B that stuck to euphemisms
Before there were songs like “I Invented Sex,” Teddy and Marvin seduced with suggestion. Ask your cousins—that’s why they’re here.

2. Calling people “cool breeze”
Also acceptable: “playboy.”