Hip Hop Attempts To Recapture Its Voice Vs. Social Injustice

Hip Hop Attempts To Recapture Its Voice Vs. Social Injustice

Hip Hop

The nation is still focused on the events stemming from the murder of young Michael Brown in Ferguson, MO. The people continue to rally, march, protest and show support across the country. Without being told to by some high profile figure, the people have had enough and are calling out the system that has overpowered so many within the police forces of America to abuse and kill people without consequences. Within the past few days the always curious rap world has started to chime in on the drama in Ferguson via music. Hip Hop has always had something to say but truthfully the power of those words has never been lower than it presently is. Can Hip Hop reclaim its position as a socially aware mouth piece for the people?

California MC Game rounded up a collection of artists ranging from the Puffy to Wale to Rick Ross to 2 Chains and more. If I’m being honest I didn’t listen to this track till nearly two days after it dropped. I can admit to having mixed emotions about this effort I was honestly nervous about what I’d hear. The song “Don’t Shoot” has been made available via iTunes and its been stated that the proceeds will go towards the Justice for Mike Brown Charity. I wonder if those funds will exceed the cost of a few of those tacky ass chains some of these entertainers wear.

Following this group effort, the on again off again on again and now off again Pastor Mase has released “Politically Incorrect” as is statement on the issues facing black people in the wake Trayvon, Mike Brown and others. As in the “Don’t Shoot” song, taking it at simple face value the words do connect. The questions of who’s next and how can we stop this resonate with me and many others. Yet, at 33 yrs old, having grown up on Hip Hop I need more.

I’m a realist, I take the caliber of a man into account when looking at the things he does. As a Black man our community there are a number of things we have to deal with and address. No, don’t worry I’m not about to go left and do the “What about Black on Black violence” thing. Unlike many I can acknowledge more than one issue at a time without derailing from the original point. My concern here is specifically with the major figures in Hip Hop. When you have the loudest voice, the farthest reach and the greatest influence of any non religion based culture on the planet you have responsibility. Many of these folk have done a piss poor job of living up to that. If I know you constantly are abusive and disrespectful to women via your creative platform it makes it hard for me to take you serious when you get on the #HandsUpDontShoot bandwagon. Yes they are two different issues but they all effect the same community. I want to believe that this is more than a mere bone being tossed at the people. I want to believe that the same way the public seems to have been woken up that Hip Hop has as well.

Hip Hop

Tragedy has hit us many times before and for the most part Hip Hop has done nothing for fear of burning corporate relations. I understand business and I’ve often been the first to say let’s get all the info then make the most effective move possible. I’m about acting effectively not merely acting fast. I hope this is the beginning of continuous action from the Hip Hop community. I think all of us need to see that. People that love and live this culture have been let down often by those that now benefit from the battles pioneers before them fought. Accountability is needed from all. When the media attention leaves and the holiday season rolls around this year I don’t want the energy of today to be gone. I know Hip Hop can do it but the question is will it? Jay Cole set a great lead visiting Ferguson as well as Talib Kweli. Let’s keep putting work behind our words.

Jason Francis | The Social Media Samurai

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Ask The Samurai: I Think My Player Ways Hurt His Ego

Ask The Samurai: I Think My Player Ways Hurt His Ego

Ego

The world of dating and social interactions seems to get more and more intriguing as you get older. As folk mature a lot of the rules and guidelines we were raised on get questioned, challenged and often times abandoned. Many men realize that the run and gun hit everything in sight mind-set isn’t that fulfilling. Conversely many ladies finally feel the freedom of embracing their sensuality and set out to fully enjoy themselves. If you ask me, do what you want to do as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone. I’m coming across more and more folk into different things and it’s not on me to judge it. With that said a question was asked of me that I’ll answer here.

“…why y’all get so upset when u find out the woman you’re interested in is having more sex than you?”

Ok, now from the wording of this question this seems to be a matter of two people doing their own thing. You two then cross paths and have a surface level of attraction which led to conversation of what you two are “doing”. The idea that the guy has an interest but is bothered but the level of the woman’s activity is clearly a matter of old school ideals and assumptions of what a “lady” should or shouldn’t be doing. Sometimes it’s a conscious thing we fully believe in and often it’s buried deep in our subconscious that the scales of sex should not dip too far in a woman’s side. It’s what society has pushed on us our entire lives. Those mindsets are changing but the classic beliefs still remain with many. Plenty of men exist with the idea that a woman having more sex then you are while single can’t be trusted or is “easy/loose/etc.” We all know the terms. If this is the stance a guy  is presenting to you then it may be a blessing in disguise so you don’t waste time on him.

The reality I’ve met is that the older I get the more open and unapologetic women are about doing them. While people constantly paint men as the gender that completely moves based on carnal urges I see that balancing out a lot more these days. At least for me I know way more ravenous ladies then guys so in the end I don’t use what a person does as a means of forming a view on them. It’s always been about how you carry your self. Sex is a powerful thing and it means different things to different people. Personally I don’t like crowds. Just from the safety and health perspective I’m just not a fan of too many people being in the mix. Everyone has to have their own non negotiable factors, but when the issue at hand is about machismo pride and ego, you may be best served to move on.

I think the most valuable thing that people often waste when dealing with the opposite sex is time. Yes all encounters can be lessons and learning moments but time can’t be recaptured so you’re best served to identify who you’re dealing with as soon as reasonably possible. If a man feels a way about what you do then maybe it’s not worth you trying to change his view-point. That’s a call you have to make.

Choose wisely.

Jason Francis | The Social Media Samurai

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With Their Men Under Attack, Black Women Step Up To The Front Lines For Justice

With Their Men Under Attack, Black Women Step Up To The Front Lines For Justice

Black Women

We see the jokes, the insults and the harassment of Black Women on a daily basis. Black Women get the short end of the stick regularly in this world. Baring more weight than most, Black Women push on even as those that should be standing up for and with them play the side lines. It’s a disturbing state that many a lady has shared with me. I don’t get how you don’t stand up for the worlds nurturer and givers of life. As a man that’s just what you do in my opinion. And now, in the midst of the national unrest regarding Police Brutality, guess who are the first people front and center standing up? Black Women.

From all parts of the country Black Women converged on the town of Ferguson, Missouri to aid, support and lead protests in the wake of the murder of Michael Brown. As just the latest in a historic series of unarmed Black Man to taste death from police, the sheer callousness of the Brown’s death has pushed the people to the brink. Feminists who have spoken up and demanded that improvement of the treatment they receive from men reacted with lightning speed to be there for us. Pushing the #Ferguson, #MikeBrown, #HandsUpDontShoot tags to global trending levels, our beautiful Black Women right now are making the ultimate statement of love to us. How can you not feel it? How can you look at them take on tear gas, dogs, rubber bullets, armed forces aiming fully loaded weapons at them and not ride for them.

 

If ever there was a time to stop and reevaluate how you act it’s now. A lot of folk talk that talk, walk with their chest out and cal l themselves real men. Oh you a grown ass man? Well I’m calling bluffs. You need to let your real position be known. Our women need to know we’re here for them unconditionally. Can’t continue to sit back and watch disrespect and pretend it’s nonexistent because it’s not you doing it. Many of our women have had every right to leave us alone to fight our own battles and they don’t. Man up and do right. All we have is each other in the end. At the very least, make sure you tell the women “Thank You” for everything they’ve done and everything they’re doing for us.

 

Jason Francis | The Social Media Samurai

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Toronto Lights Up For The Annual Caribana Festival – Up North w/ Megabus.com

Toronto Lights Up For The Annual Caribana Festival – Up North w/ Megabus.com

This summer I’ve partnered with Megabus.com to travel to a number of locations for a variety of events. The travel was comped but all views and opinions are 100% mine.

Caribana

One of the annual highlights of my summer is the Caribbean celebration of Caribana that takes place in Toronto. Ontario’s capital city becomes the destination of a swarm of Caribbean representatives looking to dance, march and jump up with family and friends. The tunes of Reggae, Soca and Calypso fill the air as soon as you hit the #416. It’s a city wide party during this extended weekend that you will never forget.

Generally, I travel to Toronto by air. The ride via Porter Airlines from the NYC area is roughly 90 mins. In the time I can watch a movie on my laptop I’m already landing. On this occasion I elected to enjoy the road and scenery of a comfy megabus.com trip up through New York State. My bus departed the west side of Manhattan at midnight. With an expected arrival time of approximately 11:30am it’s the ideal split of your morning. I slept the first half of the ride into Buffalo. Then I took in the land as we made our way to the US/Canada border.

For those who haven’t taken the megabus.com ride I can’t stress enough how convenient the drop off is downtown Toronto. You’re a block away from a the TTC street cars or the subway that’ll move you swiftly around the city.

The weekend of activity started off at the rooftop lounge Sky Bar. As an annual opening event to the Caribana festivities it was another amazing gathering of good people and great music. For those not into the club party scene all the action wasn’t confined to the club sector. There were a number of open area performances that took place throughout the city like in Dundas Sq where entertainment is continuous throughout the day. The nearby Toronto islands, which are easily accessible by ferry, also hosted Caribana events throughout the weekend with food and more live Caribbean themed entertainment.

Caribana

Of course this was all framed around the main event of the weekend which was the Saturday Parade along Lakeshore Blvd. From the morning until the evening the sounds of reggae, soca and calypso fill the air as the various bands fill the parade route with vibrant colors representing the various Caribbean islands.

Caribana

Before I finished my time in Toronto I made my way through Chinatown with my hosts for some fruit and gift shopping. My final must visit area was Kensington Market which is full of wild artistic energy. The talents of community are expressed in a number of outdoor creations and lively street art pieces. The local restaurants and bars within the Market are great for a variety of tastes. Toronto truly has a little of everything for everyone and I can honestly say that you can’t take it all in at once.

Even as I arrived at the Bay street bus terminal, looking at the megabus that would safely take me home, I was mentally lining up must do activities for my next visit to Toronto. Yes another trip up north is definitely in order.

If you liked this post make sure you check out my previous summer with megabus.com as I visited Atlanta, GA!!!!

Jason Francis | The Social Media Samurai

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New York Steps Up To Stand Against Injustice #NMOS2014

New York Steps Up To Stand Against Injustice #NMOS2014

#NMOS2014

The mood for many within the Black community has been a mixture of sad, angry, frustrated and tired. The eyes of the nation have been locked on Ferguson, MO a city just outside of St Louis where a young unarmed Black was murdered by the local police. Since that killing one week ago the powers that be in Ferguson seem 100% committed to doing any and everything to antagonize and further infuriate the people. Law enforcement, utilizing military grade armor, vehicles and weaponry have done anything but relieve tensions. Michael Brown’s death rounds out a brutal period of excessive force by Police officers resulting in unarmed Black men being killed. NYC, a city that is no stranger to this issue, along with many other cities hosted a number of gatherings this past Thursday night. #NMOS2014 which stands for National Moment of Silence was a time to respectfully acknowledge those we have been lost to Police brutality. It would also become a rallying point for the evening.

Starting off at Union Square Park there was a moment of silence for the fallen and a number of candles lit in the memory of those like Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Ezell Ford and John Crawford. Then part of the that group would splinter off to march peacefully to Times Square. That movement would lead to roughly 3000 people essentially shutting down the Times Square area. Meanwhile at Union Square a number of people stepped forward to express their frustrations at the overall situation and to call out for solutions, directions and change. There was no shortage of view points regarding how we got to this position. From economics to race it was all put out there. The question that stuck with me the deepest was “What are we willing to fight for?”

I can honestly say the majority of what my generation has was provided by those before us. Our elders fight and worked hard against the system to provide the lives we presently enjoy. Yet now we are presented with a moment when the people have come under fire and its on us to respond. This social media generation is notorious for it’s inability to focus on one thing for more then a way weeks. It’s one outrage after another with little actually being done to change the root cause of the problems. This time though something feels different. Everyone has there breaking point and I can’t help but feel that if we haven’t hit it yet that we are about to. The blatant murders of unarmed Black men can not stand . There is no means of justifying this no matter how hard the police departments try.

One of the men that spoke Thursday night was as blunt and honest about his stance as anyone we would hear from.

“I have respect for peaceful nonviolent positions that other families have taken to the murder of their loved ones, but we need to fix this problem now because if you touch one of mine it won’t be a nonviolent response.”

This sentiment rang out as the crowd cheered in agreement. The most basic trait of all animals is self preservation of itself and it’s family. How long do you think you can kill before the victims lash out? Even when riots and looting erupt it’s on a relatively small scale in comparison to what could be. Police Brutality is a bane on the entire country and the people have had enough.

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That night we stood together unified yet completely aware that the road ahead would be long and difficult. Change doesn’t come overnight. As I shared in the both hurt and hope of my brothers and sisters around me I openly wondered who would step forward from our world of digital interactions and show us what action looks like. Well to that question I was quickly given an answer. Meet New York’s own Cherrell Brown.

#NMOS2014

Ms Brown is a Community Organizer and Social Justice Educator who has suffered through personal loss of her own due to Police Brutality. As the situation on Ferguson continued to developed she could no longer remain stationary and put plans into motion to get to Missouri and aid the people of Ferguson with supplies, resources and support. Within 24 hrs she launch a Gofundme campaign to get aid with her expenses and by the following day she was on her way to Ferguson. Besides the knowledge and civil experience she bring to the table, Cherrell is also bringing on the ground accountability and fact checking to a situation where the authorities have continuously given unclear and at times blatantly false information. Cherrell is our on the scene reporter. She is there with the people. confronting the police and giving the truthful good, bad and ugly.

#NMOS2014

This is the embodiment of the spirit needed to make any lasting changes occur. Follow Cherrell via Twitter and donate to her Gofundme as the monies are being used to get other supplies to the people of Ferguson like gas masks to combat the actions of the Police. From NY to MO the people will not take this laying down. No, we will stand up against Injustice.

After the Jump see some of Cherrell Tweets Live from Ferguson. This is the real media!!!

Continue reading New York Steps Up To Stand Against Injustice #NMOS2014

SPIKE LEE’S ‘DO THE RIGHT THING’ 25 YEARS LATER DOCUMENTARY

SPIKE LEE’S ‘DO THE RIGHT THING’ 25 YEARS LATER DOCUMENTARY

Spike Lee
With everything going on in the nation right now ‘Do The Right Thing’ is so needed to reflect back on. Early this summer the 25th yr anniversary of Do The Right Thing was celebrated in BK with an official block party. The cast of the classic Spike Lee joint takes some time to look back and visit the famous sights of the film. “Fight The Power!!”

25 years ago, Do The Right Thing was released. Follow Spike Lee as he strolls down memory lane (in this case, Stuyvesant Avenue) with the cast from the iconic film and residents of the legendary block.  Then, enjoy the 25th Anniversary Block Party with guests Dave Chappelle, Wesley Snipes, Yasiin Bey (aka Mos Def), Erykah Badu and one very special performance from Public Enemy.

Jason Francis | The Social Media Samurai

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Genie, You’re Free – RIP Robin Williams

Genie, You’re Free – RIP Robin Williams

 Robin Williams

The world is still trying to process the news that comedic legend Robin Williams passed away Monday via suicide. With a career that has spanned decades Robin Williams has been many things to many people. The high energy actor was a virtual plastic man that could twist, turn and fit almost any position needed from the highly serious to the silly and playful. Yet in the midst of making the world smile and laugh, the personal life of Robin Williams was a serious battle with depression and substance abuse that he never hid from the public. I have never dealt with depression nor suicidal feelings in any shape in my life. So, as I take in this public tragedy I do my best to pull some positives from the negative.

It’s amazing how many in the entertainment world spend their lives bringing pleasure and joy to the masses while internally struggling with their own demons. It’s almost as if the upward projection of creative energy is not just for the applause of the people but to counter act the issues that they are dealing with. It’s truly a cruel joke when a beloved comedian like Robin Williams, similar to a Chris Farley fall victim to their inner turmoil much of which is unknown to the people around them.

Williams career and professional resume is extensive. Yet for me as an 80’s baby and a child of the 90’s I truly was introduced to Robins Williams as Mrs. Doubtfire and as the voice of Genie in the Disney Animated Classic Aladdin. This is a huge part of my childhood that is now in mourning. Before I ever laughed at the whirling physical comedy and off the wall antics of Jim Carrey, it was the endless witty impressions of Williams that defined comedy during my youth. As an adult I still remember Genie’s “Friend Like Me” and “Prince Ali” verbatim. These are the sentiments that are flooding my Facebook and Instagram. A generation has lost their clown prince of comedy.

Many people are just now learning that Robin Williams was dealing with severe depression. I can’t help but think to the classic tale of Pagliacci the Sad Clown. He has been referenced in many places but I find his mention in Alan Moore’s Watchmen as sadly appropriate to the current situation.

“Heard a joke once: Man goes to the doctor. Says he’s depressed. Says life seems harsh and cruel. Says he feels all alone in a threatening world where what lies ahead is vague and uncertain. Doctor says, “Treatment is simple. The Great clown Pagliacci is in town tonight. Go and see him. That should pick you up.” Man bursts into tears. Says, “But doctor…I am Pagliacci.”

And there you have it. We rarely take a moment to consider the issues of those that bring us pleasure and enjoyment. We assume that those that make us happy must be happy themselves. In many ways Williams shared much with the character Genie. 2 people that gave happiness to others while technically being prisoners of their existences.

In the end I think the role of acting and comedy for Williams was truly an escape mechanism. One that lasted well over 40 years.  In his own words he said.

“Comedy is acting out optimism.”          

Could it be that one of the best funny men to ever do it was also telling us what he truly wanted in his own world? Via every punch line and gag, Robin Williams gave to others the peace that he ultimately could not find here on earth. I can only hope he has found it now.

 

Jason Francis | The Social Media Samurai

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Hitting The Road w/ Megabus.com for the Nomadness Travel Tribe Annual BBQ Weekend

Hitting The Road w/ Megabus.com for the Nomadness Travel Tribe Annual BBQ Weekend

This summer I’ve partnered with Megabus.com to travel to a number of locations for a variety of events. The travel was comped but all views and opinions are 100% mine.

 Megabus

A couple of weeks ago, my travel group the Nomadness Travel Tribe, held its 3rd Annual Summer BBQ. It brought in members from all over the nation to celebrate in the annual summer weekend tradition. Megabus served as a primary transportation option for many up and down the East coast. I personally took advantage of the reliable megabus.com service to travel from the New York City into the heart of Atlanta. I’m a frequent megabus user but this would be without question my longest trip ever at roughly 20 hrs.

Traveler Tip: When booking a trip of at least 12 hrs. try to schedule it so much of the ride occurs during you normal sleeping hrs.

I left NYC after 1am so the first 6-7 hrs. flew by as I slept it out. The seats were comfortable and the AC perfectly cooled me down from the heat and humidity outside. Our drivers also kept us informed throughout the entire ride with updates on upcoming break stops and estimated arrival times. In addition to that I was seated next to a pleasant young lady who was also heading to Atlanta to celebrate her birthday. I reached downtown Atlanta within 15 minutes of the projected arrival time.

Megabus

Once there my Tribe and I enjoyed an amazing weekend. We kicked off the weekend at the recently opened Studio No 7. It was a great late evening venue for the young adult crowd. That was followed up by a dip into the ATL club scene at the infamous MJQ for Hip Hop night.

The main event took place on Saturday with approximately 125 people attending the Nomadness Summer BBQ in nearby Stone Mountain. Friends and Family enjoy home cooking, top grilling and great music via our own DJ Big Dose. It was more then worth the lengthy travel to be a part of this moment.

megabus

Before many of the Tribe members departed to make their way back home, we collected one more time for Sunday Brunch at one of the local hot posts Thumbs Up. The food hit the spot and the prices are very reasonable. It was an ideal place to unwind and reflect on the weekend.

After the all that activity I had just enough energy to get to my bus and begin the long road home. For a 20 hr. ride it went by very quickly and very smoothly. I was back in New York safely and on schedule. That was very important in that I only had a little down time before my next trip to Toronto. We get into that a little later. In the mean time thank you megabus for the ride.

Jason Francis | The Social Media Samurai

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#HennessyHolidays Gives A Private Preview Of Novelty Winter Drinks

#HennessyHolidays Gives A Private Preview Of Novelty Winter Drinks

#HennessyHolidays

It’s literally the middle of Summer. It’s shirts, tank tops, BBQ’s & Pool Parties. Yet while most of NYC was out enjoying the warmth, the good People at Hennessy were thinking 2 seasons ahead with a private drinking event. The evening’s theme was #HennessyHolidays where a select group of industry guest were offered a series of newly crafted drinks geared towards holiday season entertainment.

Brand Library served as the host venue for the smoothly executed event. While a variety of foods were serve to us, master mixologist Jordan Bushell concocted each drink providing step by step detail and background history into creation of each mix.

Obviously Hennessy V.S serves as the center piece ingredient but one of the best things about the drink menu was the variety of the collection. The highlight of the evening for me was A Long Night In Madrid which actually features egg whites and chocolate. A close second is the Winter Vacation which a hot drink that includes tea. Topping off the holiday vibe of the night was a round of White Elephant. A collection of drinking and home party items were given out and moved among the guests.

Below you can see the ingredients for the signature mixed drinks of the night and a little visual for the creation of  A Long Night In Madrid

OLD WORLD

2 Oz Hennessy V.S  x  .5 Oz Amaro Nonino  x  5 Dashes Orange Bitters

GINGER APPLE

1.5 Oz Hennessy V.S  x  .75 Oz Ginger Liqueur  x  .5 Oz Lemon Juice  x  2 Oz Apple Cider or Apple Juice  x  1 Dash Angostura Bitters  x  Top W/ Soda

WINTER VACATION

1 Oz Hennessy V.S  x  1 Oz Velvet Falernum  x  .25 Oz Fresh Lemon Juice  x  5 Oz Hibiscus Tea (Hot)

A LONG NIGHT IN MADRID

1.5 Oz Hennessy V.S  x  .75 Oz Medeira  x  .25 Oz Grade A Maple Syrup  x  4 Dashes Angostura Bitters  x  1 Egg White

Jason Francis | The Social Media Samurai

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Gillette Delivers That #SmoothSummer Look with the New Fusion Blade

Gillette Delivers That #SmoothSummer Look with the New Fusion Blade

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone.

 

#SmoothSummer

 

One of the signature benefits of the summer is the steady warm weather and extended day light. It allows for hours upon hours of socializing with friends and family, but if you’re going to be all out and about you better look proper. That hibernation period leading up to the summer allowed you to get away for the Grizzly Adams look but now it’s time to smooth it out. Fortunately Gillette comes through with the ideal shaving tool, the Gillette fusion proglide.

 

#SmoothSummer

It’s the peak of Summer travel time for me. In the midst of a schedule that took me from New York City to Atlanta back to New York and then to Toronto there was little time for a stop at the barber shop once I got moving.

#SmoothSummer #SmoothSummer

In preparation for this I made sure Gillette’s new razor was coming with me on the road to keep a #SmoothSummer look consistent where ever I was. #CollectiveBias let me know of its availability so the day before leaving town I was up bright and early at Walmart for my travel shaving needs.

#SmoothSummer

This new razor is truly a god send. Men all know that facial workout we have to go through to get the right shave.

#SmoothSummer

It’s the crazy face Olympics as we try to smooth and stretch out skin to glade across all the needed areas. Thankfully the fusion proglide utilizes a simple yet effective flex ball based design that rolls with the contours of your face for a smooth cut minus the unnatural facial movements. For me personally that’s bonus as it cut down on irritation. I have sensitive skin so that’s very important if I have any intentions of a #SmoothSummer look. I have a personal shaving team of the Gillette razor, electric trimmer and Bump Patrol after shave to finish off the deal.

This past 2 weeks really put Gillette to the test too. From home to hotel to hotel I had my trusty Gillette on deck. While attending dinners, BBQs and celebrations I kept my beard lined up with the smooth face intact. Not to mention in the middle of a lazy Sunday I got a last-minute request for a business Skype call. I would have been doomed without my Fusion Proglide for a shave before turning on my web cam. My trust in this razor is so solid that I had to give one to my father as well and he loves it.

This is a long await answer to an age-old question. Can you get an easy smooth shave without standing on your head? Yes you can thanks to Gillette.

 

Follow Krystal’s Kitsch’s board Smooth Faces of Summer on Pinterest.

Jason Francis | The Social Media Samurai

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