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TONI THORNE: Hats off to you, Puffy


TONI THORNE: Hats off to you, Puffy

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SIX YEARS AGO in 2010, I used to produce a live show that was also filmed and streamed live with Barbadian rapper Teff Hinkson in St Lawrence Gap. 

One night I remember being told that our house DJ for the night would have been a young DJ, who was still at Combermere, called DJ Puffy. I laughed and thought the name was super cute.

I met the young man at the end of the night as he was lifting his equipment into the trunk of a car. As he politely said goodnight, it was intriguing that he was doing this on a school night when I am sure he had CAPE exams during this period.

Fast forward six years and Barbados has a REDBULL Thre3Style World Champion, DJ Puffy. Those of us who are now being acquainted with the name have asked “What separates Puffy from everyone else?” Here are a few things.

Firstly, Puffy is talented. Any misguided notion that his success is solely just the result of luck or great marketing is very flawed. DJ-ing is an art. It is not solely about rotating a play list of the most popular singers in a fete.

Fewwture, Puffy’s longtime manager who carefully worked with him over the years, told me that he first approached him to manage his modelling career. Realising that Puffy also had the talent of being a DJ, he and Puffy entered into an agreement where his company, Dream Real, would manage Puffy as a complete artiste.

This was not without its challenges. Initially, many promoters saw Fewwture’s role as unnecessary and constantly questioned why a DJ would need a manager.

 In my opinion, Puffy is the first DJ who really took the marketing of himself to an entirely different level. His Instagram boasts of over 40 000 followers and that is owed largely to his impeccable image, which is constantly caught by Barbadian photographer Alexander James.

I was recently told that when Puffy first arrived on the scene with a personal photographer capturing all of his movements, many Barbadians viewed it as a highly narcissistic move. Such Bajans fail to understand the creation of greatness and are sadly short-sighted.

As Fewwture said, “Puffy was always a star to me. I was always simply waiting for the world to recognise it. Since he was a star, we treated him like a star and knew that the universe would align.”

Puffy is an extremely handsome young man with great style and an even greater image. He appeals to the aspirational millennial and is a perfect fit for sponsors who want to attract that demographic. Designers throughout the region sponsor his clothing and want him to be seen in their attire. We have most recently seen our tourism agencies working with him.

His vlog; having been the (according to many) star of Slam 101.1FM roster of DJs; having slots on regional radio shows, and working at the majority of the diaspora’s major events has without a doubt crafted this champion.

Puffy is a classic example of why parents should invest in their children’s dreams. I have managed to interact with his mother over the years and her commitment to him is worth watching. She is his number one cheerleader (girlfriend Shantal Martin runs a close second) and has chauffeured him to many of his events to play at all kinds of ridiculous times.

I can only imagine that he has also been chided for making the choice to be a DJ. The career choice is one that is only now getting some respect. Like many other fields in the creative industry, it has not been taken seriously as a path of employment. Many parents ought to stop forcing their children to pursue what they believe are the “proper career paths”. Encourage your children to monetise their passions.

As I type this article, Puffy arrives home and is greeted by Minister Stephen Lashley. Good move. I can trust that the minister will make every effort to ensure his ministry (which all tie heavily into the work that Puffy does) supports and invests in this young man.

Speaking of support, the amount of support Barbadians and the wider Caribbean diaspora gave this young man was amazing. One of the best things is when your success speaks so much for itself that it silences your critics. I saw one man in a Facebook comment say that he still doesn’t like Puffy’s style. That is his right. Not even a clown, everyone likes.

I believe that what Puffy did is exactly what any artiste who wants to achieve international recognition within the creative industries should do.  Take yourself seriously; surround yourself with hard-working people who believe in the dream and work hard even when people are not watching. We are having a front row seat to The Puffy Show, ladies and gentlemen. This is like the sequel to the success show we first watched when a young Barbadian girl appeared in the Nation newspaper after inking a deal with Jay-Z. So let’s grab our popcorn and pompoms (bandwagonists are welcomed) and support this young man to the fullest.

We have a world champion. Let us make him a global champion!

Toni Thorne is a young entrepreneur and World Economic Forum Global Shaper who loves global youth culture, a great debate and living in paradise. Email: [email protected]