Picture a standard TikTok celebrity. Now, picture that same individual going a day without his or her phone. You probably can’t. We all know too well the addictive nature of social media, and it’s sometimes discouraging to watch it hijack the malleable minds of the future. Furthermore, we consume so much negative content daily that mental health issues are more prevalent than ever worldwide. In the words of B.o.B, “the kids don’t stand a chance.”
20-year-old Jufu changed my mind during a 45 minute Zoom call.
As soon we started speaking, I was a little surprised that his 3.1 million TikTok followers hadn’t fogged his view of the world. Jufu started his content creation career on Vine in 8th grade before transitioning to TikTok. His contagious smile has since propelled him into a leadership role for his young audience. But don’t be fooled: he’s not hungry for views and streams and world domination.
“I’m always trying to figure out how to formulate my words to get people on the path of finding themselves and becoming their best selves,” he tells me. He named Kanye West, Childish Gambino, XXXTENTACION, and Will Smith as some of his role models. None of these names came as a surprise because he senses his own opportunity to be a “stepping stone to show people they don’t have to be boxed to a certain [genre of art].” Whether it be via rapping, singing, comedy, acting, or producing, Jufu wants to push boundaries like his idols.
After receiving such positive feedback on 15-second song clips on TikTok, Jufu began making full songs. Luckily, he had the means to properly create after learning how to use Logic in his Brooklyn high school’s music technology program (the same high school that Joey Bada$$ attended.) In May, Jufu released his debut mixtape with Island Records titled Get Used To Me. These six tracks showcased his lyrical ability, setting him apart from the rest of the TikTok rappers.
“Throughout the majority of my life, I’ve had a disconnect with lyrics in songs. I’ve been attracted to the sonics of the song. When I finally started to reacknowledge the importance of lyrics and related to lyrics myself it definitely changed the way I write music.”
Jufu’s latest musical release arrives in the form of “Just Do It.” He and his team created it with the imagination of it being picked up by Nike. That dream came to life months later, as it was also featured in a Madden 21 campaign. His flow improves with every release.
“I learned that the very first cadence that I come up with is always the freshest and resonates best with people,” Jufu says. “I believe the very first cadence comes from the inner self.”
“I want the whole world to be on a good vibe. My definition of vibing is being at peace with yourself.”
I can’t recall the last conversation I had with someone born in the year 2000 or later that blossomed this many insights. Typically, leaders thrive most when they are comfortable with themselves. Jufu undeniably seeks success, but he pairs such a voyage with a quest for self-fulfillment. After studying successful predecessors, he changed his routine. He consciously works on listening more and interrupting less, goes outside daily before logging on to his computer, indulges in spiritual literature, and now sticks to a vegetarian diet. I’d like to remind you that this is a 20-year-old TikTok star we’re talking about!
Last week, Jufu participated in TikTokFashionMonth’s Runway Odyssey show with PUMA. The apparel brand partnered with Black TikTok creators and designers for an exclusive collection, and $10,000 in proceeds from the sales will go directly to the Equal Justice Initiative. To contribute, Jufu designed this hoodie for PUMA. He’s wearing it in this post.
Sudden climbs to fame startle the unprepared. It’s a good thing Jufu has his next ten ideas loaded in the chamber. He tells me he’s working on several different content series, including live studio sessions, connecting with more fans on Omegle (not a joke), a fitness series, and even a podcast down the road.
“Fun Fact: I love being behind the camera and I plan to get into production and directing five years from now,” he mentions. His respect for Childish Gambino suddenly makes twice as much sense. The sky might not even be the limit for this budding star. Watch his journey unfold and inspire the youth. Of course, Jufu isn’t conceited when it comes to his success.
“If what you’re doing doesn’t require a team, it’s not big enough.”
The kids shall stand a chance.
(Note: Jufu’s song “Chicken Sandwich” was made before he adopted a vegetarian diet.)