Category Archives: News

Kingdom Come – Enter The Black Panther

Kingdom Come – Enter The Black Panther

BlackPantherPoster

With roughly a month remaining before Marvel’s highly anticipated blockbuster, Black Panther hits national theatres I can’t help but think of how crazy a time this is for something that has been for so long a dream for by so many. I look at the various reactions across social media, the tweets of joy, the Facebook posts organizing movie screenings all across the nation and it’s a powerful moment.

I see this building hype in momentum in two vital parts. First and foremost I saw this from the position of a near lifelong comic book fan who wondered if such a film would ever be created. The question of if the Black Panther would ever make it to the big screen and why had he not made it there  yet has been on the minds and on the lips of comic book fans for years. So, for many of us, this is a dream come true. This is a long time request, hell a demand finally being realized.

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On the flip side, you have the contingent that is excited that we are seeing an all-black powerhouse cast put together with no expenses being spared for essentially what folks have dubbed The Blackest movie ever created. Yes there’s a whole lot of black in that last statement. It’s a lot of black, blackity black, the blacker the berry the sweeter the juice, once you go black you never go back. Anything that you can imagine that encompasses the joy and the pride of being black within this world is being showcased right now through the presentation of Black Panther.

For many, it’s much bigger than just a really good comic book being turned into a movie. This is a chance for people for a race of people that have forever and always contributed creativity created art and push culture to the limits each and every day finally getting something that showcases just how Grand are people are. An All-Star once in a lifetime cast no expenses being spared the Black Panther is.

via GIPHY

As I look at these two sides preparing for the release of this film I don’t want the moment to be lost solely on the Black Panther. Don’t get me wrong, the story of the Black Panther in itself is amazing but for those who did not come up in the comic book world who were not begging for this movie 10 years ago, I want you to stop and take a second to add some perspective. Google it yourself, talk to your comic geeks’ friends and get familiar with the history of Black characters in the comic world. It’ll add even more joy to the moment. Learn about Indie legends like Brotherman, trendsetters like Milestone, learn how Dwayne McDuffie made Jon’s Stewart’s Green Lantern the face of the Green Lanterns to millions of kids via the Justice League Cartoon. Do the knowledge of Luke Cage prior to his Netflix debut. There is a rich history out there. We’ve always been here and hopefully, in one month we take center stage and never give it back.

BSupers

Long live the King!!

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SAMURAI RIDES: MIAMI – ART BASEL 2017 WITH THE 2018 MAZDA CX-3

SAMURAI RIDES: MIAMI – ART BASEL 2017 WITH THE 2018 MAZDA CX-31(13)

**Learn more about the Mazda CX-3 Here**

I can’t think of a better way to wrap up my year than in Miami returning to Art Basel. Last year I wasn’t able to make it down as I was preparing to enter Digital Daddyhood but now I’m back and I’m blessed to have my little buddy on the road with me too even if Max may not remember it. But I knew as soon as I confirmed that I was going to be down here I had to get a new little toy to run the Florida streets and without fail, the 2018 Mazda CX-3 was on deck for the weekend. I was sad that I didn’t have a longer stretch of time to really put this vehicle through its paces but for the weekend that I was there,  it did everything that I needed and then some.

Making my way from Fort Lauderdale International I picked up the 2018 CX-3 and made my way right to Lynwood for my first of many art exhibits for the weekend. Without fail, Mazda’s sleek design and easy on-road handling were apparent on the wide Florida highways.

One of the features that I tried for the first time while syncing up my phone via Bluetooth was using my Google assistant and word command more than I ever had before. The hands-free efficiency was recognized immediately. Locking in my residence for the weekend along with the important locations that I had to touch base with while I was in Miami was very easy to enter and save in the navigation system.

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As you may know from previous reviews I have been fortunate enough to try out all of the Mazda crossovers over the past 2-3 years. In getting a glimpse of what they have in store for 2018 I don’t have any doubt that they will continue to lead the pack as one of the top SUV crossover producers.

CX 3 Features

As you can see in the images below Mazda has perfected having sleek laid-back design combined with incredibly detailed luxurious interior layout. The finely stitched leather trim in gives these Mazda rides a sort of race car design and feel that makes you want to step on the accelerator a little harder. But, if you get tempted to do such a thing don’t fret because Mazda comes complete with its package of safety notifications to keep you from going too wild on the road.

Obviously, this is one of a series of vehicles in the Mazda CX line. The 3 is the smallest of the vehicles in the series but even with that being the case, the majority of my travel this weekend was solo so I had more than enough space once I reclined my seat. Just make sure you’re not sitting behind me. In any case, I had no complaints with Mazda’s latest creation. It was fast, efficient, easy on my pockets when I had to go to the gas station sounded, the audio was powerful and kicked when I needed to ride with my son I felt confident and safe that he was in great hands.

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Mazda does it again so take a look at some of the images above of the vehicle and some of the incredible art below that Miami had on display during Art Basel this past year I will be back again.

**For more Samurai Rides Click Here**

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New Podcast Launch – Who’s Listening EP.00

New Podcast Launch – Who’s Listening EP.00 & EP.01

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Funny how life goes in circles. Years ago I was a pretty solid fixture in the internet radio/podcasting/online streaming space. I co-hosted a Toronto-based online show. I made regular appearances on a number of pretty popular online shows and even on my personal blog I was doing a video blogs very heavy.

Now, to have stepped away from that and then see you that same media blow up with a current surge of podcast activity I won’t lie it’s bittersweet. I think I have a habit of being too far ahead of the curve and several times I’m so far ahead that I missed out on the chance to monetize what it is I’ve already been doing.

With that being said, Facebook over the past week just rolled out a very interesting feature. They announced this back at the tail end of last year and now it’s finally hitting. They announce the audio only feature within Facebook live so if you’re not someone who is camera ready at the moment but has a lot to say, has a voice that needs to be heard or a voice that the people want to hear this is the perfect thing. Obviously, you would do your recordings for the benefit of a live audience at the same time your material is saved which you can direct people back to or share across social media.

This past week I introduced “Who’s Listening”.  Episode 00, the pilot episode. This is me stepping back into the podcast world with this first episode. I spoke about the Yankee captain Derek Jeter having his number retired along with a few Yankee memories. I touched on the NBA playoffs as well. In addition, there was social media talk about virtual reality and “Smart” tech like voice recognition.   The main topic of the show was the  “black women are trash black men or trash” t-shirt fiasco that hit the internet last week. I definitely gave some opinions on that so without further ado drop down and take a listen to the pilot episode of  Who’s Listening.

 

**UPDATED – LISTEN TO THE FIRST OFFICIAL EPISODE 01 HERE**

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NYC Hosts Word of Mouth Marketing Summit – [WOMMA 2017]

NYC Hosts Word of Mouth Marketing Summit – [WOMMA 2017]

womma logo

The New York Times building played host the annual WOMMA Summit this past week. The summit featured speakers from a number of major brands like MGM Grand, Tito’s Vodka, BuzzFeed, Wendy’s and many more.

WOMMA which stands for word-of-mouth-marketing presented two days of panel discussions, informative sessions that dove into various aspects of Social Media communication, content creation and the overall effect of digital activity on society. Many brands spoke about how they craft their respective voices along with the teams and systems that go into creating the content that the consumers see on a daily basis.

The online comedic wit of the Wendy’s brand was center stage for that chat courtesy of their V.P of Media, Ads & Social Brandon Rhoten.

Univision EVP Jessica Rodriguez opened up the Summit speaking on ownership of responsibility within her digital teams and the effects of “influencers”.

They also had a number of sessions that spoke not so much to a specific business purpose but how Society as a whole interacts with social media. As social continues to grow and evolve around us it’s playing a greater role in and having increased influence on day to day life. Topics such as prejudice, discrimination, fake news and more were touched on via author Emanuel Rosen

In addition to that WOMMA also addressed the issues of influencers in a few respective sessions. Kevin Knight of Experticity broke down what actually makes an influencer on various levels of scale, what their responsibilities are and how do they best express and deliver on the message of a respective brand.

It’s very informative to get a look into what larger mainstream businesses are doing and thinking in regards to social media. Learning what their methods are that result in the content that they create and what are the do’s and don’ts are that they apply to their own digital spaces. These things are important to be aware of as many of these brands set the trends that up-and-coming businesses and entrepreneurs tend to follow. Not to mention we see on a daily basis many mainstream bands continue to get social wrong and put themselves in positions where not just are they acting in error but then they are put on full display for the world to see just how out-of-touch they are. Truthfully speaking in today’s climate with social media as established as it is you should know the ramifications of the things you do in our business. Nothing is secret and customer service is now a spectator sport. How you treat your customers is no longer lost within phone calls and snail mail complaint letters.

Nicole Portwood of Tito’s Vodka says it best. “We focus on being as human as much as possible vs. being so product-driven.”

This sentiment does well in summing up the overall tone of the WOMMA Summit. Word of Mouth Marketing essentially is a reminder that no matter how far social media advances it is the social aspect, the direct person to person element that carries the greatest value for businesses to succeed. WOMMA isn’t stopping with the summit either. There are a number of events upcoming via WOMMA to continue the conversation of how our communication is evolving and impacting our business.

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Media Updates – Sharing New Content and Features

Media Updates – Sharing New Content and Features

SMS UPDATES

It’s been a while since I’ve taken time to share some of the things I’m doing. Fatherhood has changed the way I work and my ability to focus on “me” is in a bit of flux. Slowly but surely I’m reestablishing my digital presence, getting my creative juices flowing and putting content out into new spaces. It feel’s good. I view 2014 as a pivotal year. It was in that year that I covered my largest events, wrote my biggest (at the time) article

Thinking back a bit I view 2014 as a pivotal year. It was in that year that I covered my largest events, wrote my biggest (at the time) article and landed my first client as a consultant. I’m using that year as a reference point for the things that worked for me professionally and how to implement them within my new reality.  That’s within the social media industry and beyond.

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On the writing side of things, I’ve had a few recent pieces published via Complex. Sports connects to folks on so my levels so it’s cool to share thoughts within that space.  Here are mentions from my Knicks and Warriors stories.

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I’m also looking to bring a new outlook on Fatherhood to the forefront. Classic Daddy narratives often paint us in a position of voiceless, emotionless workers. As more dads are taking on the day-to-day hands-on duties of parenting in addition to work, it needs to be understood and respected that we are just as invested in the lives of our kids as anyone else.

In the last week, I’ve been featured by a couple of pro daddy platforms. It’s all about Max and whatever I need to do to keep him smiling.

Good Afternoon everyone👋😍 Meet @NightFall914 & his handsome son Max. This great guy knows the meaning of happiness. You can clearly see his efforts are well received in the joy his son has. A true man, a great father and positive role model. Let’s show him a warm welcome for being such a great Father on his journey as a father. I am proud of you @NightFall914 continue to be the amazing man you are. God has blessed you brother. Congratulations once again!!! Welcome to Fatherhood 👍😎 #FatherRights #DadCaresToo #DailyMessage #DailyInspiration #SingleDadLife4Ever #Daddy #Son #Daughter #Mommy #SingleDadLife #MommyLife #FathersWithoutBorders #ProudFatherOfALittleGirl #ProudParents #Postivevibes #PositiveChanges #SharedMoments #NewParents #FatherHood #ParentHood #Parenting

A post shared by FathersWithoutBorders (@fatherswithoutborders) on

at 9:44am PDT

The other feature was a great Q & A interview with DadofDivas. This is something I really want to build one going forward.

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Snippet from Dad of Divas Interview Feature

It’s a new world for me in many ways but with a new motivation to press forward, I’m excited about the future. Also as I have reached and helped many of my readers, I ask those of you viewing this to please reach back to me if you see something that you think I could a match for. Online features, writing, public speaking. I’m wide open to opportunity.

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Boom or Bust – The Future of Proximity In-Store Marketing

Boom or Bust – The Future of Proximity In-Store Marketing

Proximity Marketing

Not too long ago I tested out a number of proximity based apps in a few of New York’s larger retailer stores. As consumer habit continue to move towards mobile tech integration business are looking to get as up close and personal with shoppers as possible. Tailoring your in store experience based on where you are comes with a number of potential benefits. Below is the opening excerpt of a great piece discussing In-store proximity marketing. Check it out then hop over to the full post at the end.

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Today’s constantly connected consumers are using smartphones in-store more than ever. A recent Google survey states that a staggering 80 percent of shoppers are using smartphones to make purchasing decisions. Retailers and start-ups have taken notice, and the concepts of mobile location analytics and proximity marketing are emerging out of that.

Publications like Techcrunch and Adweek have articles of retailers launching Bluetooth beacon pilot programs almost on a daily basis. Some recent examples includeTarget, Country Market and Urban Outfitters. But when you clear away all the buzzwords, what exactly is this shift we’re seeing? It’s the world customizing itself to you. The world is reacting to your presence, specific to you as an individual.

Proximity marketing is an exciting concept, but a lot of people are worried they’ll be inundated with spam if they opt in.

That is an exciting concept. Talking about this out in the world will get you varying reactions, from concerns about privacy issues to the idea that your phone is going to spam you with Viagra ads non-stop, but if you boil down the idea, there are some really compelling concepts here.

Personalization Is A Key Benefit

Let’s take a look at a form of personalization we all know about today. A husband and his wife have individual key FOBs for their car. When the husband gets in the car, the mirrors adjust, the seat slides back, and the radio station changes to his favorite morning radio station. When his wife uses the car that evening, the car returns to her preferences. That’s an example of very useful personalization. Now, imagine if a retail store could do that for you.

We’ve seen online personalization become more and more sophisticated over the past decade with platforms such as Google AdWords and the Facebook Audience Network, and the addition of proximity marketing technologies is making it possible to expand that personalization in-store, effectively bridging the gap between digital and physical environments. There are both exciting and scary possibilities to this.

So, why can’t retailers live without it? The retailer will now be able to understand shopper behavior beyond POS data. Retailers currently have the ability to analyze traffic patterns, deliver personalized offers, measure dwell times, build on customer loyalty profiles and even A/B test physical displays. And what does the shopper get? By integrating this technology into a retailer’s app, the shopper gets an ultra-personalized experience through customer-specific offers, location-specific coupons and contextual information such as maps and menus.

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But the question that keeps coming up is: Will shoppers adapt to this kind of experience? If users don’t adopt the technology, hockey stick graphs will never happen for retailers. I think of a Sheryl Sandburg story I’ve heard during her presentations several times. When Caller ID first came out, users were scared by it. They thought the concept of knowing who’s calling before you picked up was creepy. Now, 20+ years later, we don’t pick up our phones without knowing who’s calling.The user’s perception of the technology completely flipped over a couple of decades.

It seems a general consensus among investors and marketers that someone will figure out and win the proximity marketing race.

***See the full Article Here via Topal.com***

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2017 Social Media Cheat Sheet

2017 Social Media Cheat Sheet

infographic-feat

The new year is underway and as you set out to execute your business plans it’s always nice to look over your presence online and make sure your business is being represented to the best of its abilities. From the proper dimensions on your profile images to the ideal time to post content, there is a science to this digital world. Fresh from the good people at SWM. Here’s a convenient cheap sheet you can cross reference your activity with to get the most out of all the major platforms. Just hit the jump for the full sheet.

You’ll also want to check out this collection of apps and tools that will add tons of value to your social media activity. I use more than half of these tools and can vouch for them. See the link at the end of the jump.

Continue reading 2017 Social Media Cheat Sheet

Hip Hop is Dead…10 Years Later Nas Looks Back

Hip Hop is Dead…10 Years Later Nas Looks Back

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In 2006 Hip Hop was a very interesting place. While powerhouse names like Eminem, Jay-Z and Kanye West were still dominate, the mainstream is fully in the midst of a revolution led by the new music makers of the south. Lil Jon’s Crunk movement was turning out ultra energized club hit after hit. Atlanta’s Trap had invaded the scene as artists like T.I, Jeezy and Gucci Mane were just as well known in a city like New York as Jadakiss or Camron. And let’s not forget Ludacris and his DTP camp who would occupy multiple chart slots at a time. The Hip Hop landscape was changing and it was not going unnoticed by one of Hip Hop’s greats. In the view of Nasir Jones, he would tell you “Hip Hop is Dead.” I remember my personal excitement awaiting that release of this album. My Hip Hop taste is very NY for all the good, bad ad ugly of it. Nas’ attempt to being things back to the essence was a rallying cry for many even if it was short lived.

10 years since it’s scene shaking release Nas looks back on the Hip Hop Is Dead album that many rallied behind while even more rallied against. Unintended regional tensions resulted from Nas’ claim that the core elements of Hip Hop, music, wordplay, storytelling and lyricism had been given up for childish, hooks and low grade concepts. Linking up with Google Play and Mass Appeal, Nas delivers a 4 part digital documentary on the this controversial album.

“In retrospect, I missed the mark by miles,” he admits. “I didn’t want to pick people apart. I felt like that was for a younger artist to do. I thought the title was enough — to say it’s dead it was to say, ‘I don’t know where to begin, I don’t know where to start.’ But at least I’ll name it this and we’ll see what goes from there.”

Hit the jump to view the other 3 installments of the doc. Watch as Nas speaks on everything from the album title, his long anticipated collaboration with Jay-Z, to his current view of the culture and his present role in it.

Continue reading Hip Hop is Dead…10 Years Later Nas Looks Back

2016 The Year That Changed It All

2016 The Year That Changed It All

Digital Daddy, Social Media Samurai
Is this the end of the Social Media Samurai

Look around. Admittedly things have been a little quieter around here than many of you may be used to. The year 2016 was a monster for many people for a lot of reasons. While the theme of high-profile death has dominated the conversation recently, it’s been a focus on gain and new life that has been the signature of my year. From self-centered to selfless, my life went from 0 -100 with the May 27th arrival of my son, Maximus Xaiver Francis. Nothing was the same since.

Max’s birth came with me relocating to Philadelphia and a drastic shift in how I operated. My networks were changed, my access to certain levels of business were reduced and overall it was if I had just hit a mega reset button on my life. I’ve never been a person that took things and people for granted but the new perspective of my situation immediately made me see my daily New York routine in a different light. The small things that brought balance to my life that were no longer available weighed heavy on me for much of my time away from NY.

What really countered that feeling of displacement was a the beauty and happiness that washes over me everything I saw the innocent smile of my baby boy. Knowing nothing of the insane world around him, he only asks for love and protection. All the cliches’ are true regarding how a child makes you feel and how it changes you. As much as continue to juggle thoughts and feelings around my new status quo, I’ve never once looked at Max with anything but love and pride.

2016 forced me to change. It forced me to prove myself in ways I never thought. Those tests are still ongoing but I feel a renewed power and strength within me for what is to come on many levels. Social Media Samurai is not going anywhere. As I adapt to my new reality the brand will adapt as well. Who I am and what I am about will be revealed more as I expand SMS into new territory. With the growth of my own Tribe I will re-emerge stronger with a determination to get things done no matter what.

The previous 366 days at times knocked me down. There were many moments of doubt and frustration regarding all important aspects of my life, but as the saying goes if you are brought to it then you can make it through it. I’m here and ready to make 2017 a banner year for me and my loved ones. I’m not who I once was yet I’m still me. I’m better. For my son I will never stop evolving.

2017, it’s nice to finally meet you.

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SAMURAI RIDES: HAPPY HOLIDAYS W/ THE 2017 MAZDA 6

SAMURAI RIDES: HAPPY HOLIDAYS W/ THE 2017 MAZDA 6

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It’s the most wonderful time of year!! Or it’s the perfect opportunity to get your mind off the crazy happenings in the world. Either way welcome to the holidays. Your Social Media Samurai is riding clean into Thanksgiving and Christmas with new 2017 Mazda 6 Grand touring!!

Mazda has won a very solid spot with me over the past couple years. They’re cranked out a number of great rides offering a little something for everyone. You last caught me driving the gorgeous Mazda CX -9 down in Atlanta for my Nomadness Tribe Reunion weekend. This time we’re turning up the family vibes and cutting down the scale of things. With Thanksgiving dinner seeing about a dozen people followed by some QT with my son Max and my parents, I didn’t need as big a vehicle as the CX-9. My northeast antics were ideal for the new Mazda 6. When a quality 4 door sedan can still drive you that sports car feel you’re in for a good time.

More at MazdaUSA.com
More at MazdaUSA.com

Naturally the first thing you have to ask yourself is whats new about that 2017 Mazda 6 from last years model? If you left it up to a simple eye test you might say not too much. Although with the sleek design of the 6 that’s not a bad thing.  You do get new headlight to front grille trim lighting. It’s a mean look at night but most of the 2017 changes took place inside the ride. You’ll notice the steering well is now the same design as the CX-9 and includes heating functions for those chilly winter nights. The driver info display screen and the flip-up dash design both have been upgraded to color screens from their preciously unimpressive black and white scheme. The real killer in appearance is when you step up to the Grand Tour Premium package. You get the choice of black or almond-colored nappa leather seats with titanium-gray piping and stitching! Not to mention the extra black trimming. Mazda never hands back on luxury interior design options.

As great as that is, now having my son in the ride with me, safety is as high on the priority scale as ever. I raved about the Mazda 6 safety features in my 2016 review. This time around the i-Activsense powered anti-collision sensors are able to identify pedestrians and  smaller moving objects in addition to other vehicles. The auto brake emergency features now is active in a 9mph to 99mph range. That’s up 9mph on the high-end. Mazda has also tightened up steering reactions on corner with their G-Vectoring control system. I definitely felt it and with these other improvements Mazda driver can continue to feel safe on the road.

A photo posted by nightfall914 (@nightfall914) on

Yes, yes all this sounds great but nothing beats that hands on, real road riding. Smooth handling on the 95 north as I head from Philadelphia on Thanksgiving eve set the pace for me. During a very active traffic period the Mazda 6 had me feeling I was in a different place. Heated seats for the backed up Black Friday traffic kept me in comfort. Christmas tunes played on XM radio, setting the holiday mood on BOSE speakers. I had no complaints.

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Max and I had a little photo shoot and the Mazda 6 let Max nap on the way to the studio and back which made things that much easier for me.

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The Holidays get stressful for many people. Crowds, lines and traffic statistically send the road rage incidents up but while some folks lose their minds, I’m moving about with 100% peace of mind in the Mazda 6. Mazda has found a great balance between power, style and luxury. What’s more is that they have done so in pretty affordable fashion. You can hop over to the Mazda website for an even deeper look into the 6. I’m sure you’ll see something you like.

**Check Out My Previous Auto Reviews**

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