Life Isn’t Long Enough For Regrets

For the next few days, I’m in New York for what I have determined will be the concert of a lifetime. My favorite hip-hop group, The Diplomats, is performing in the city that I’ve adopted as my second home. I’ve been rocking with them for over half of my life. I’ve purchased (not stolen but PURCHASED) every album they’ve dropped. I have their apparel. I’m a fan’s fan. But, sadly, every time they’ve been in NC during my adult life, I’ve been out of the country or state. Most recently, I was in Thailand while they did not one but TWO shows in NC. 🤦🏿‍♂️😫
Know what? Tomorrow is not promised and so, in this moment, I decided I would be in NYC this weekend to see them close out the Dipset Forever tour in their hometown. As much as they break up and get back together, who knows which tour will be their last? So here I am, living my best life. I ain’t goin’ back and forth with you… well, y’all know the rest.
Oh, and, while we’re on the subject of being a fan, I couldn’t come to the city without getting a cut at the best barbershop on this side of the ozone layer: The Standard Grooming Company. If you’re in Brooklyn, make sure you rock with them. While all three of the groomers in the spot are exceptional, I sit in the chair of the man who has been cutting my hair for over a decade now, co-owner Vince Jamael. Definitely a fan not only of the work of Vince, Autumn, and Troy, but also love the decor in their spot. Make sure you follow D Squared Visuals on Instagram to see some of the dope shots I’ll be capturing here (I’m writing at the shop as I await my cut) and from around the City.
Ok. Now I have to figure out exactly what I’m doing with my hair. I haven’t gotten a cut since May! Here’s to a great weekend!
Ballin
Make living without regrets a priority.
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The Corporate Sauce

Vince: What kind of cut do you want, bro?
Me: I’m your canvas. You know where I work. Make it dope, but make it professional.
Vince: Cool. I’m gonna give you that corporate sauce.

The Thursday before last, I flew up to NYC for a haircut… Ok, I lied. I’m not at that point in my life yet. But I did fly up to NY for my younger cousin’s high school graduation and I can’t go to the city without hitting Adrian Fanus Grooming (AFG) in Brooklyn.

Ten years ago next month, I met a young man who will likely be my go to barber whenever we’re in the same city and will certainly be one of my best friends for life. Vince Jamael is the most talented grooming professional I’ve ever worked with. That’s not to negate the skills of my two go-to barbers in NC. But, in the decade that I’ve known him, the exponential growth I’ve seen Vince exhibit has me excited to see where he will be a decade from now. He went from cutting in the bathrooms of Phillips-Hawkins Residence Hall for something like $5 to charging a respectable $xx, before my tip (and my cut was on the lower end of the price scale). But back to the cut. 

Old Vince

Circa 2008

Now, before I tell you to go visit the shop next time you’re in NYC, know that AFG believes you get what you pay for. Because their grooming experiences aren’t cheap, their grooming experiences aren’t cheap. Their experiences are by appointment only and these professionals are on time. They know what they need to do, what they have time to do, and, while they will not rush through your cut, they will make sure that you look like you had an artist with a very detailed eye just work on your appearance. You walk into the inconspicuous shop and the receptionist shows you to the waiting room. But, before leaving you, she presents you with their beverage options and returns with something refreshing to sip on during your brief wait. Within a short time, your grooming professional comes to bring you to his/her chair and the work begins.

FullSizeRenderNow, this being my second time in the AFG shop since Vince started working there, I’ve been asked what type of cut I want and my request was followed to a T. They make sure you get what you want. But, knowing that Vince is a visionary, this trip, I told him to do what he wanted. I had let me hair grow for about four weeks so that he would have a very rough canvas to work with. I only gave him two instructions: work his magic and don’t get me fired.

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The moment the clippers hit my head, my spirits were lifted. There are very few things that make a man feel better than a fresh cut, especially after going a few weeks without one. Thanks to Vince’s low cost cuts in college, I’d grown accustomed to a touch up every week and a cut every other week so I was beginning to feel like Pookie from New Jack City. After getting the length right, he took care of my hairline, which begins looking rough when it’s gone two weeks with no attention. Finally, he put a classic blade to my hairline and my facial hair, adding that literal razor sharp look to my cut. The cut concluded with a warm towel, a smile, and a handshake.

IMG_8063Now, sadly, I’m not flying back and forth to BK to get a cut every other week but I do have another close friend who lives in Brooklyn, works in Manhattan, and goes to AFG regularly. We’ve compared notes and he says that his experiences are as good as mine are. To me, that says that each of their grooming professionals pays the same attention to detail and treats clients with the same respect as one of my closest friends does for me. You can be the best dressed, most articulate person in the world, but without a great haircut and facial hair that looks intentional, you run the risk of not getting a job or even losing the one you have.

 

While you may not be able to make it to AFG, that is the type of service all young professionals should look for in a grooming professional, be it a barber or a beautician. You need someone who knows what you do for a living, what you’re looking to do in the future, who can make your hair look like it’s a part of your personality, and still make you look great for a night on the town. Your grooming professional should be your friend who you just happen to pay (and tip well) to make you look awesome. Someone who, if you’re looking for it, can hook you up with the corporate sauce.

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“Spread love. It’s the Brooklyn way.”

Make looking good a priority.

What’s Better Than One Billionaire? Two.

“I’ll be damned if I drink some Belvedere while Puff got Ciroc.” — Sean “Jay Z

Do you know what I took from “4:44”? (Well, I took a lot but this is my favorite lesson.) That I must support those in my circle so that we can grow and build together. Is that always going to be supporting by buying? No way. If your product is garbage, I’m going to tell you your product is garbage but I’m going to tell you how you can improve it.

Example: Desirée had some idea for menswear the other day that just wasn’t appealing. I told her that I, as a man and therefore a part of her target market, didn’t find that idea to be worth my money. But I said, “What if you adjust it this way? I’m sure more brothers would willingly pay for this as opposed to that.”

Support isn’t always found in the form of dollars but also in critiques that lead to dollars. If I love you, I’m going to do one of two things: critique you or spend money with you/bring you customers. I want to keep my dollars in my circle, in my community, and in my family. “Nobody wins when the family feuds,” so why not get on the same page and support one another? Stop competing. Start working together, building, and watch what can come if, as opposed to a two way street, everyone’s lane builds a highway.

 

Make commUNITY building a priority.

I’m From Marcy, Son!

Ok, so the title was a complete lie. I was born in Durham, North Carolina. But this week, I’m a resident of Brooklyn, New York so #TheReader is going to have a bit of a different feel to it. It’s going to be about my experiences around the city. Sure, I’ve been here before but now I’m out of college, I’m not up here with my ex-girlfriend, and there is nothing keeping me from just going out and doing anything. But anyway, back to Marcy.

If you’re a fan of Jay-Z, you know he was raised in the housing projects off Marcy Avenue in Brooklyn, New York. And even if you aren’t a fan, you know the name or you’re living under a rock. Interestingly enough, I’m living right around the corner from there at this moment. One of my fraternity brothers, Alexander, lives right here and I though “Cool. I’ve seen this place in music videos before.”

Around midnight, I got hungry so Alex and I went to this chicken spot around the corner because it was late Sunday night/early Monday morning and nothing else was open. In the place, I saw a few pictures of a young Jay-Z (probably Big Pimpin’ Era Hov) and the owner if the establishment. Then I looked around and saw the impoverished conditions and the drug addicts and I thought, “This man made it out of here and became one of the wealthiest MCs in hip-hop history. Why can’t I be equally successful?” And why can’t you be? I’m sure you have the tools or, if you dont, you find them. He did and, even though it’s not all about money, it is about believing God put you here for something bigger than just getting by.

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Who’s going to beg to take your pic?