The Art of Virality | Understanding Jufu’s Transition From TikTok to Stardom

Photo Credit - @amandabfilms

By today’s standards, every artist aspires to go viral, and Jufu’s moment is finally here. After Vine’s untimely death, the content creator turned artist was subjected to the unwarranted pressures of starting over. 

There’s a need to create, but the desire to recoup momentum lost from migrating followers to a different platform outweighs the benefit of producing new content. For Jufu, this challenge meant displaying more personality. Over the years, his likability factor and selfless actions have afforded him the opportunity to connect with his fans on a more personal level. But this isn’t some misguided approach aimed towards boosting his influence, Jufu is naturally concerned with the needs of others. “…it’s more of a lifestyle choice and mindset, with being very genuine and understanding of all the people around you,” he shares. “When you understand people, you see the interconnectedness amongst us all.”

With his creativity, Jufu’s digital restart was seemingly trouble-free. He just had to recreate the magic of staying connected to his authentic self. And now, the Brooklyn-bred artist is signed and more self-aware, using his platform to promote positivity. At this stage in his young life, Jufu is geeked about learning. He’s been on a journey of self-discovery since 2018, accrediting his shift in focus to one of rap’s biggest influences, XXXTentacion. “After he passed away, I wanted to learn more and really look within myself. That sparked off my spiritual journey.” 

After successfully transitioning from social media to the recording booth, Jufu’s future in music is showing much promise. Today, he continues to broaden his sonic palette, delivering the accompanying visual to his TikTok-friendly single “KIWMB,” which stands for “kickin it with my bros.” 

Jufu has taught his supporters that there’s no such thing as an overnight success, as evident by his persistent grind. Although he’s just getting started, the 21-year-old artist has already mastered the art of virality, and he’s only getting better. 

How would you describe growing up in Brooklyn? 

Growing up in Brooklyn was pretty interesting. I went to a diverse middle school, so I got to see a lot of different perceptions and meet a lot of different people. Throughout middle school, I actually started to make videos on social media, on Vine specifically. That eventually led me to going to Edward R. Murrow High School, which is where I learned how to record myself. I grew up listening to a lot of Haitian music, Michael Jackson, and different r&b artists from the 90’s. 

Is there any correlation between your Haitian heritage and the music you create?

For me, I felt very disconnected from my culture growing up. It started to play much more of an influence on me after I started to create music. The influence it has on me is natural, in terms of percussion: I feel like that’s just naturally in my blood. Not necessarily with playing the drums or anything, but with having percussion skills and being able to drum with my hands. Haiti’s history, with gaining independence from the French – that plays into my blood, in terms of my relentless nature and being able to keep at something for as long as I can. 

What role has consistency played in your growth as an artist?

Everything, because there were countless times where I could have quit. Going all the way back to 2014, Vine’s death was one thing. To pick up the pieces and have to restart – I put all my eggs into one basket at that point, I didn’t build on any other platforms. My account has been hacked before, at like 600K followers: completely removing my videos, posting porn on my page, getting my page banned (laughs). It’s a lot of different things that I could’ve given up on over the past 6-7 years.

As a content creator, how did you work through that moment? I know that’s nerve wracking, especially considering how often you use social media. 

My account was probably banned for about a week or so. It was just consistently hitting up the team at (at the time) to get my account situated. Thankfully, we got through that. I definitely felt unmotivated at times. After getting your account hacked, you’re not going to get the same engagement as before. Numbers are something that I look past a lot. I feel like when you’re paying attention to the numbers you’ll cause yourself to lose motivation because your work isn’t being appreciated. I feel like when you’re not paying attention to the numbers and you’re focused on the passion behind creating, it allows you to be a lot more consistent. 

What has it been like with converting your fans into listeners?

It’s still something that I’m working on today, but I have successfully converted a lot of my followers into listeners of my music. The way that I was able to do that is by showcasing my personality. When people are invested in your personality, more than the content you’re actually creating, I think that makes them a lot more interested in everything that you’re doing. Last year, I was doing a lot of meet-up content, where I was meeting a lot of my followers. Through that, I showcased a lot of my personality. I was able to do a few million streams on a song called “What’s The Vibe?” and that was solely through consistent videos of me showing my personality and talking to people. The theme song behind all of my videos was “What’s The Vibe?” And, the music will speak for itself, too (laughs). 

You seem selfless, like you’re creating content for the enjoyment of other people. 

You said selfless, and that’s funny because I’m not sure if you know, but the Jufu logo, under it (in Korean) it reads “selfless.” I created that in 2018. 

That’s crazy. I had no idea. When you think about that word (selfless), how does that identify with who you are?

I can’t be 100% selfless, because then I wouldn’t be alive. I guess it’s more of a lifestyle choice and mindset, with being very genuine and understanding of all the people around you. Because of that understanding, you become more understanding of others. When you understand people, you see the interconnectedness amongst us all. It makes you more inclined to be giving, and that’s how I perceive being selfless.

Have you always retained this positive outlook on life or is that something developed overtime? 

I’m gonna be real, I don’t remember too much of the way I was feeling before 2017, and I don’t know why. I didn’t always have this outlook on life, and I feel like developing this perspective started with my self-growth journey, looking inward. That journey started around 2018, and it contributes to a lot of who I am today. I do have my down moments, that aren’t on social media, but even during those moments, I usually find every way possible to turn it into light.

I couldn’t help but notice that you referenced a specific time period, 2017-18. Was that an important time in your life? 

I have a lot of different influences, X (XXXTentacion) being one of ‘em. He would talk about certain things, in terms of self-awareness and things of that nature. After he passed away, I wanted to learn more and really look within myself. That sparked off my spiritual journey. From there, I became obsessed with learning more. The more I’m learning, I feel it’s helping me become a more positive person and influence the people around me.

Talk to me about “KIWMB.”

The intention for the record is all out positivity. A lot of states are opening back up again and I feel like people should spend some time with their friends. The pandemic has definitely been a major barrier, especially when you’re talking to people digitally. Originally, we had a song called “Comfy” that was supposed to come out prior to “KIWMB.” For legal reasons, we couldn’t put that song out anymore, so we had to think of something else. I feel like everything  happens for a reason. We made “KIWMB” the day we found out we couldn’t release “Comfy”, and we had to put out something else. I was talking to a girl at the time of making the song, and the lyrics come from me speaking to the girl. She had some nights where she was out doing her thing and when I had my nights of literally being in the studio, with my producer – who I consider my bro because we’re just close like that. And we’re just in the studio, the words started coming to me after I heard the beat due to getting texts from the girl I was talking to. She was living in another state. Overall, I’m just kickin’ it with my bros and she thinks I’m out doing whatever. What I love about it is that a lot of people can relate to that, from both sides of the spectrum. It’s like an anthem of spending time with the people you love. Through posting it on social media, people are naturally perceiving it that way. I didn’t have to tell anyone to make a video with their friends or anything. Like with one video, it’s a daughter and her mom. I love the effect that it’s having and I’m looking forward to seeing it continue. 

How do you intend on living beyond your viral moment and pivoting into a more creative space as an artist? 

I was actually watching a few videos recently on viral moments, just to get other people’s perspective after going viral. It took me a long time to finally go viral. Right now, I’m at the stage of helping people that know me for my viral moments get a better idea on who I am as a person. I feel like that is what’s going to make people be invested in what’s happening with me. Keeping good communication with the people that support me. I try to not be so distant. Just continuously showcasing personality through BTS (behind-the-scenes) videos and vlogs on YouTube. I plan to release more visuals this year. I’m going to be making a lot of noise by remixing some top artists’ songs and releasing my own content in addition to that. I’m trying to notch myself into a XXL freestyle for next year.

About the Author

Derrius Edwards
Derrius is a music industry professional with experience in content strategy and editorial writing, sharing relevant and resonating stories as a conduit for hip-hop culture advancement.

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