Tampa's Pusha Preme brings success story home to Gasparilla Music Festival

Tampa’s Pusha Preme is part of a stellar line-up performing at the Gasparilla Music Festival on Saturday, April 29. The Tampa-based international performing artist is rooted in his vibrant Afro-Caribbean heritage, weaving experiences of his formative years in the inner-city Bronx with high school awakenings in the vastly different environment of New Tampa’s suburbs. All of his experiences contribute nuance and texture to his energetic musical style. 

Pusha Preme produces lyrics that dance on the edge of the dark and gritty but are delivered with such energy it feels life-giving. They acknowledge the challenges of life and the capacity to transcend and reach for something greater. This mirrors his personality. He proudly preaches, “Tampa will win.”

“This is exactly why Tom Brady brought his talent and company here, TB12,” he says. “There is a market in Tampa. There is success here.” 

Preme is part of that success. He is signed with Symphonic Distribution, another Tampa-based business that is thriving internationally. 

Preme got his start in music at a young age. 

“I started writing poetry as a gateway to talking to females,” he chuckles. “It helped me overcome shyness. That evolved into holding my own with rap battles and finding my own style.” 

This includes exploring commercial and underground hip hop and street rap, which Preme defines as telling stories in location. 

“Rap is storytelling,” he says. “It allows a listener to transcend with it.” 

The awareness of music being able to inform the human process came early to the emcee. Preme is a first-generation American, a descendant of Sierra Leone. 

“I grew up in New York, Bronx and Queens,” he says. “I watched the struggles of my mother, who overcame the challenges of coming from a foreign country to the University of Alabama on scholarship and then worked to get a green card. America is a system to find your place in and a way out.” 

When he was a teen, his family relocated to New Tampa, where Preme attended high school. 

“Coming to Tampa was a gift for safety,” he says. “It was an investment in a different outlook of life that I wanted my children to have too. In New York, I grew up walking home after taking a train at 10 p.m. with my guard up, avoiding certain blocks. That trauma never goes away. I came to Tampa and saw these kids driving BMWs. It let me see what was possible.” 

He playfully recalls though, “Of course, I had to rebel a little and hang out in Rowlett Park.”

Preme’s connections in New York and in Tampa Bay helped him crack into the business and establish himself as a performer. Soon, he discovered a desire to maintain some anonymity and the freedom of personal identity. The creation of elaborate masks grants a boundary that both supports his freedom and enhances the audience's experience when he performs. 

Pusha Preme“That’s how Preme was created,” he says. “I knew how to sew so I started refurbishing clothes, basketball jerseys and crafting masks for performance. That way, I could still be a great dad and go to birthday parties and be myself. But when I step on stage I’m Pusha Preme.”

Preme says he is “big on sonnets and adding color to music.” Tracks like “Adam & Eve Can’t Let Go” often incorporate Afro and dancehall beats and layered lyrics. His musical collaborations like “Heaven at Night” have landed him on top of Billboard and iTunes charts. This success inspires Preme to keep reaching for more. 

“It takes time,” he says. “Consistency is key. Show up, appreciate the fans. It reminds me of a game I played growing up, SimCity. You could build a huge city but it takes time. The game won't let you cheat the process.”

While his songs have been streamed hundreds of thousands of times, what he most enjoys is creating unforgettable live experiences that uplift and inspire. He is filled with excitement to produce such an experience at Gasparilla Music Festival when he takes the stage on April 29th at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park. He is also passionate about the festival’s charitable mission. The Gasparilla Music Festival benefits Recycled Tunes, which provides Tampa youth with musical instruments.

You can follow Pusha Preme on Instagram @PushaPreme or search Pusha Preme on Apple Music, Tidal, YouTube, Spotify, Pandora, SoundCloud or any other major streaming service.
For more information on the concert, go to Gasparilla Music Festival
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Read more articles by Michele Smith.

Michele Smith is a writer based in Tampa since the ’90s. She has a degree in International Business & Fine Art from the University of Tampa and has contributed to numerous start-up ventures in the Tampa Bay area. Her writing is influenced by a local and global perspective. Topics of interest include arts leadership, business development, creativity and innovation and wellness. Michele is also the Executive Director of the nonprofit Tampa Arts Alliance.