It was not a cricket match where the West Indies team was on the verge of a historic win. Neither was it a popular event that would generally galvanize the support and interest of the Barbadian people. It was a Dee Jay competition, and a Barbadian had the chance to win – a very slim chance. However, as the saying goes ‘against all odds’ the Barbadian DJ Puffy was crowned as the Red Bull 3style Champion in 2016. For the young entertainer, it was a life-changing catapult to stardom and a gateway to places on earth that some can only dream of seeing.
November 20, 1991, Andre Parris entered the world. As a product of a musical family, from a young age, the vibrant youngster’s fate was almost destined for a particular path. His mother, Denise Williams, a singer, performed on the hotel circuit and young Andre, could often be found behind the scenes, (sometimes even venturing onto stage and dancing while his mother performed).
His journey to the 2016 championship began in school (Combermere Secondary) – starting as a hobby to entertain friends. Fueled by a love of music and his popularity among peers, he soon ventured into playing for friends and at house parties. As his skills and presence improved, Andre took on the stage name “Puffy” – a nickname which stuck after attending a costume party dressed as American entertainer Puff Daddy. While still a teenager, house parties led to fundraisers, then fetes and eventually grew to a regular gig at the popular former nightclub the Ship Inn.
At School, his academic prowess and diligence resulted in him achieving the title of head boy. However, the seventeen-year-old’s focus was still on the turntables, as he would diligently visit the club after school, to set up returning hours later transforming from Andrew Parris the 17 year old Head Boy to DJ Puffy the party starter. His dedication and skill impressed the crowds, earning him the attention of the masses. Many became fans of the young jock and one person, in particular, began to take notice. Mathew Ashby, recognised the rich talent that DJ Puffy possessed – the two teamed up to form Dream Real Events and Management. Jumping headfirst into the entertainment business.
It wasn’t long before other major players in the entertainment and music scene began to take notice. One such person was DJ Simply Smooth – the programme manager for a news & radio station, who became impressed after a showcase of Puffys’ style and versatility while playing at Club Taboo. Smooth offered Puffy a job almost instantly and Puffy began on the airwaves with a shift called Club 101, it was the catalyst the young DJ needed to solidify his place among the major players. As such, promoters, locally, regionally and internationally began to request the young star.
The music industry was in his genes and his hard work and technique offered him tremendous opportunities. He was now one of the most sought after DJs – about to set off on a journey to the Red Bull 3Style World DJ Championships, where only the best from around the world compete. Winning the Red Bull 3style World DJ Competition is a life-changing event – The eventual winner becomes the world champion and reigns for one year while travelling to exotic places and exclusive events around the world. For Puffy, the competition was merely an event he followed on the Internet. Even if he was interested in entering, which was not on his to-do list, the rules of the competition at the time did not allow persons from the Caribbean region to enter.
Puffy had an active social media presence, where he would interact with, befriend and grab the attention of other international DJ’s. One of these acquaintances was DJ Trase, a top North American DJ about to visit the island. He reached out to Puffy and the two connected after he arrived on the island. Puffy showed the vacationing DJ and his wife around the entertainment scene and even had him sit in on his shift on Slam 101. Impressed with Puffy, DJ Trase suggested that he should enter the 3Style Competition. This would not be possible until 2016 when the rules were amended, giving Puffy a window to enter the competition, as a wild card. He submitted a 5-minute video of a DJ routine – The best three submissions would qualify for the finals. Nonchalantly, he submitted a video – It was a winner! With that, Puffy became the first entrant from the Caribbean to ever be in the finals of the Red Bull 3Style DJ Competition.
Puffy invested hours of practice into preparation for the competition, including two weeks at the Scratch DJ Academy in New York.
Puffy joined twenty-three other DJs from around the world at Velódromo del Estadio Nacional in Santiago, Chile – who were all eager to win. Conversely, Puffy was only interested in making a mark and learning as much as he could. Originality was a major criteria of the competition, which gave the Barbadian a distinctive advantage when he introduced the judges and the audience to Bajan and Caribbean rhythms. That’s all they needed – when the winner emerged – it was Dj Puffy. In Fact, he was the only one that was surprised at the outcome, as all who witnessed the competition – including the prelims – had the Barbadian DJ as a clear favourite to take the title.
As expected, life for Puffy was never the same again. He instantly catapulted from being a top DJ within a 166 square mile island to reigning supreme globally. His social media platforms became heavily trafficked by aspiring DJs, and general fans wanting a peep into his daily life – A life of jet setting from venue to venue, attending major music festivals and headlining at exclusive clubs. He was no longer a club or radio DJ – he was a global sensation – highly sought after throughout Europe, Asia and North America. Having DJ Puffy at a local, Barbadian event was now a rare occurrence. However, wherever he goes, he represents the Caribbean and Barbados through our music. Despite his tremendous success and demanding work schedule, DJ Puffy frequently finds time to give back to the industry in the form of workshops. Similar to his work, these workshops take him all over the world, as far as Singapore.
Barbados and the Caribbean had been making its mark on the global music scene for decades. Most recently, the rise of mega superstar Rihanna focused on the region’s talent. However, a local DJ has never been able to create the buzz that Puffy has generated for Barbados and the region. Since his rise to global acclaim, scores of young aspiring DJs have been given the opportunity to showcase their talent in major competitions. The story of Andre Parris, DJ Puffy, can be captured in the concept of encouraging individuals to ‘do what you love’ and in doing so with hard work and perseverance, when opportunities present themselves you can make the most of them.
1. He is the most streamed Red Bull 3Style Competitor.
2. He is an avid Gamer!
3. Performed at Fenty X Puma Pop-Up Show in New York.
4. His total airline miles travelled is equal to circling the globe 5.5 times.
5. Named as one of NBA Super Star Shaquille O’Neal’s top 10 DJs.