Jufu, who boasts 2.7 million TikTok followers, launched a music career right from his room. The multi-genre artist explains how he utilized comedy content on social media to eventually branch out with his ‘very diverse’ debut EP.
More than 500,000 TikToks have been filmed to the catchy tune of “Who R U” — with Will Smith and Steve Harvey’s videos among this batch — but that question isn’t actually being asked about Jufu. His fans on Omegle prove this, who immediately scream upon sight after the 20-year-old musical artist’s face pops up on the video chat screen (Jufu has now shared 90 of these reactions to his Instagram, which is his out-of-the-box method of fan outreach). Or, you can take a look at the Brooklyn-based artist’s TikTok following itself, which currently stands at 2.7 million users. This isn’t the result of luck. Jufu, previously known as Julian Fulian, is a social media maven who just needs his imagination, smart wordplay and prowess at editing to put out content — even during a pandemic.
“I haven’t really needed to adapt [to quarantining], because most of my content — like throughout my life — has always been done at home from my room…even my music career started in my room. So it kind of worked out for me,” Jufu EXCLUSIVELY told HollywoodLife. He later added, “I feel like I’m very, very good just coming up with content…I usually see the content before I make the song.” This is evident in the music video for “What’s The Vibe,” a track that Jufu produced himself and dropped with the May 7 release of his debut EP Get Used To Me through Island Records. The video, which is animated, is like a Zoom group call transformed into a party in the Hollywood Hills.
Jufu has been building towards this EP after a long track record in social media, which actually began with comedy. He started with “funny videos” on Vine in 2013, and after its death in late 2016, Jufu switched gears to Musical.ly (TikTok’s predecessor). He then made his foray into recording music by making parodies while still doing comedy skits for about two years. One of these parodies was his take on Lil Yachty’s 2016 hit “Broccoli,” which Jufu estimated led to the creation of 400,000 videos on Musical.ly. However, there was a downfall to this type of music.
“My parodies were like really huge, but I never really got credit for it,” Jufu admitted. He eventually took a break from Musical.ly in search of a “different” audience. “And then I came back in 2019 and released the song called ‘Woahh’,” Jufu explained, which also has a music video (directed and edited by Jufu himself) that has amassed more than half a million views on YouTube. Given that this was inspired by the “Woah” challenge that overtook TikTok in 2019, “ it was kind of a comedic song in a way,” Jufu said. “So I didn’t really like take a giant jump from comedy straight into music.”
This is true. On Jufu’s new EP, there are songs like “Chicken Sandwich,” reminding you of his cheeky humor that has made him a hit on every video-based social media platform: “Oh my gosh, dude this song is fire bro / Like, like yo, it’s like the chicken sandwich fire / Like, you know the Popeye’s chicken sandwich bro?,” Jufu raps in the chorus. And then, there’s “Ca$h App,” which is “completely from a fictional story of like the point of view of a sugar daddy,” Jufu explained. It’s also a smart way to capitalize on the running joke among Gen Z to “drop your Cashapp” — Jufu has an eye for such trends.
The EP is also balanced with songs that wouldn’t necessarily be used for the audio of a funny TikTok clip. Jufu observed that his listeners could “actually be confused” due to the project’s “very, very versatile” style. One track that especially proves how Jufu can seamlessly jump between laugh-out-loud lines to serious flow is “Surreal,” which was inspired by the “technique” Jufu has used to manifest his own desires. “I’ve made affirmations in the past. About two years ago, I wrote into a notebook — ‘I am a successful musical artist and entrepreneur,’ etc. And I feel like I wrote that and spoke it into existence. And it’s something that like, [I] was able to visualize and then naturally I just work towards it every day and kind of brought it to life…And that’s why I made the song ‘Surreal’ on the project,” Jufu said.
Jufu’s well-roundedness is also a result of his training outside of social media. He’s a 2018 graduate of Edward R. Murrow High School in Brooklyn, where he studied at the school’s state of the art “Music x Technology” program that Joey Bada$$ once studied at, which Grammy-winning legend Alicia Keys has donated to. Beyond high school, Jufu also revealed that he went to college for film, where he learned “a lot” of editing skills.
Going forward, fans are going to hear Jufu experiment even more with his sound, which won’t necessarily always involve comedy as he prepares for his debut album. “The album is going to be elegant. The only thing I can say about it, is that it’s going to be a lot more related to me and a lot more artistic,” he teased.
Jufu is full of surprises, so “artistic” can mean many things — after all, a fun fact about himself is that he can sing opera, thanks to a love for the antiquated genre instilled by his dad’s fondness for Italian opera singing legend Andrea Bocelli. Perhaps we will actually have to ask Jufu “Who R U” in the near future, as he continues to keep his fans on their toes (and on their phones).