Meet the first Indian rapper to cross one million followers on YouTube: Dino James
We speak to the rapper about his journey, Indian hip-hop and the Gully Boy film
Dino James never thought he would be a rapper while growing up in Sarni in Madhya Pradesh in a Malayali Catholic family. After struggling for many years in the Mumbai film industry, a chance encounter with a guitarist changed his path. The rapper is known for his songs Unstoppable, Yaadein and Girlfriend. We speak to him about his journey, Indian hip-hop and the new movie about hip-hop, Gully Boy:
How did you start with hip-hop?
Well, I did not start it, it started me. It came out of nowhere. One day, back in 2014, when I was sitting on a beach in Mumbai, admittedly disheartened by life, and a boy with a guitar sat next to me and started playing songs. We began randomly jamming and I somehow instantly composed and rapped some songs and it stuck me that perhaps this is my my way forward. I was an ordinary person going through the ordinary day to day struggles of finding my place in this world.
Tell us about the themes in your songs. What inspire you to come up with it.
My writing is inspired solely from life and the raw human emotions that we all go through. Different days, different state of minds. We all feel it. From the messages I get, I can tell how my listeners relate to my lyrics. My compositions are solely focused around the lyrics.
How is your work different from others in Indian hip-hop?
My topics are real. I work without any filters, without thinking how long the songs are going to be, or how commercially successful they will be. Also I have noticed that when my focus is on one individual subject and I do not digress, which is rare.
You are the first rapper in India to cross 1 million subscribers on your YouTube Channel. How do you feel about it.
It makes me feel encouraged to put more content and to connect to millions more. It is like a community that likes you, hates you, loves you, forgives you, shares feedback, expects from you. It is like any other emotional exchange. I am immensely happy that I have a loyal audience that supports me and comes to my channel to hear me rap. I just want to translate all my emotions into songs, rest will follow.
What are your thoughts on acceptance of hip-hop as a genre in India. And the upcoming Gully Boy movie?
I feel thrilled to see the rise of hip-hop in India. With the coming of Gully Boy, the appreciation of this art form will be able to reach out to every household. After all Bollywood's impact that way cannot be undermined. So I am happy about the slow and steady growth of the genre.
What projects are you working on next?
There’s a lot of hip-hop songs, melodies, stories and videos coming up. I don’t want to reveal any of the titles at this point of time, but I'm just warming up for a marathon.