If you’re ever walking down High Street, particularly in the Short North, and notice stickers reading “Offhigh” you may wonder about its meaning.
It means just what it says: “off High,” as in being off High Street. The sticker represents a growing culture of youth spending time on and around High Street, particularly in the Short North, and gaining a sense of what the city’s growing urban creativity center has to offer.
DJ Chris Mars B is the founder of Offhigh, but to fully understand it you have to flashback to 2008 when the DJ was simply Christopher Barrett, an Eastmoor Academy student roaming High Street, amazed by its creativity.
“I used to go to Gallery Hop back in high school, and there used to be a lot of kids that would play the violin, paint, break-dance, even rap on corners,” Barrett said.
It all plays into Barrett’s more recent endeavor, deejaying. A mainstay at Level’s Tuesday night party, For All Mankind, among many other gigs, Chris Mars B has become a DJ by night and cultural curator by day.
If that wasn’t enough, Mars B has been laying music to wax. Recently releasing his second mixtape Just Listen 2, he’s preparing to drop two more mixes, Goodbye Summer with Cleveland’s DJ Corey Grand, and Just Listen 3.
“I’m going to take a different approach for Just Listen 3. I want it to be something new, something original; I’m just trying to have fun with it,” Barrett said during a recent interview. “I’m trying to stay consistent and get better as a DJ.”
Chris Mars B’s desire to become a DJ came to him just like his zeal for being a cultural ambassador on High Street. Being around creativity birthed his own creativity.
“I used to travel around with King Vada a lot and I was like, ‘Why don’t I just deejay for him?’” Barrett said. “It just turned into me loving deejaying and I just wanted to do it more for me.”
Barrett is currently enrolled as a student at the newly formed Groove U, where he hopes to take his fresh and organic ideas and turn them into something nationally appealing. As for now, Columbus is a perfect launching pad and place to be.
“I’m just trying to take everything to a higher level,” Barrett said. “I’m trying to bring that culture back, bring that young entrepreneurial spirit back and showcase it. (High Street) is the Mecca of it all, man.”