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With 1.7 million followers so far, Indian rapper Dino James has connected with the youth of the country through his songs that are deep and meaningful. He was in Goa recently and NT BUZZ caught up with the star

Taking rap culture to a new high



In recent times, rap as a genre has gained significant popularity in the country. The hit movie ‘Gully Boy’, has further boosted the interest to know more about it- the truth in lyrics, struggles, agony, etc.

Dino James, whose life to some extent resembles that of Murad in the film, initially struggled in life as an actor. His strength in writing lyrics helped him quit the world of acting and focus on rap. With 11 songs so far, he is a rage among his followers today.


Excerpts from an interview


  1. 1.7 million followers on YouTube with 11 songs. You definitely connect with people on a different level.

I try to put all my heart into my songs. Someone told me that one’s most private feelings are usually the ones that people relate to most. And I realised that the themes of my songs be it ‘Loser’, ‘Yaadein’, ‘Girlfriend’, ‘Acchi Maza Aayi’ or ‘Hancock’ are very common among people. I have never written lyrics wondering how many people will follow me. I just stay honest. It feels good to have 1 million subscribers on YouTube, with just nine or ten songs.


  1. For most rappers, their tracks are based on life. What is in it for you when you write rap songs?

I got into rapping to express myself. Writing songs is a divine experience. When you start a song, you don’t understand how the song comes to life, sometimes it’s the topic, sometimes the beat, or even a single word. In an interview, John Mayer said that you cannot write a song thinking you can. The songs come on their own. There are times when I just don’t find anything to write on. But, I try to have a beginning, a middle, and an end to my song. Till now most of my songs are influence from real life. I do want to write some fun songs too.


  1. You’ve not had an easy life before reaching this far.

Yes, there was a lot of struggle. Ten to 12 years ago when I was living in Mumbai, I didn’t understand why I was going through that rough phase. I couldn’t see any path forward. But now, when I think about that phase, God provides me with content for my songs. Of course the struggle hasn’t ended. I’m still struggling mentally, at times financially too, but my thoughts are sorted and at least I have a vision going forward. I wanted to act earlier, but knew I wasn’t going to do well, and wouldn’t think positively about my life ahead. When I started writing I knew where my power lies. I am thankful to God for giving me so much content and making me a deep and strong person. I’m not scared of any circumstance now.


  1. Tell us more about your earlier tryst with acting.

I came from a small town. I didn’t know what I was going to do. I had low esteem and thought I wasn’t that great looking. I never had the confidence to tell people I wanted to act. I lived in Andheri and a lot of actors lived around there. With the help of a friend I took up acting classes and did well, but I wasn’t the conventional looking face people would want. I didn’t get lead roles, just a few assignments. I stuck to it for a bit, as sometimes I would get appreciation for my work. But, eventually I gave that up. Now when I perform on my own videos I am able to provide inputs and improvise it because of all my failed attempts to be an actor


  1. Who do you look up to in the rap world as inspiration?

I listen to lots of melodies. In fact, rap came much later. Earlier it used to 90’s pop music, Malayalam songs, hymns, etc. I remember listening to Linkin Park first in the rap genre. When there is something within you, it starts to show slowly. When I was lonely I started listening to Eminem a lot, although at that time I didn’t think I would be a rapper.


  1. What’s more important to you, singing for Bollywood films or just cutting new singles on YouTube?

For me it has become a priority to do good work. Entering Bollywood can’t guarantee success. There’s much more I want to achieve than singing for films, releasing singles etc. Many a times an artist loses his identity because of money and insecurity. I don’t know what the future holds for me, but I wish to be sincere with my work. I do want to work with big names, but I also want to strive to ensure that 99 per cent of my concept becomes the end result. I want to be a pure artiste.


  1. What is your take on the rap scene in India?

I feel that a lot of rappers have emerged after the Gully Gang came into the picture. People are much more aware about rappers in India, especially with the release of the film ‘Gully Boy’. There are a lot of sample tracks circulated. Self boost is what most rap is about today. There is an element of being genuine among some of the rap artistes. But, I still feel the writing quality of rap needs to get better.

  1. Why is it that more youngsters enjoy rap as compared to any other age group?

Rap is a very aggressive genre and the sound doesn’t suit the elderly. Also the topics are of struggle, heart break, etc, which is common among the younger generation. You can’t expect your parents to dance or sing it. But, for the younger population, it’s about breaking away from the monotony of life. I don’t know if rap can be created for the older folk.


  1. It’s important to have a unique identity as a rapper, what’s your style quotient?

You cannot be forced into following a particular style. Each of us is unique and created differently, right from complexion and voice to looks and shape of the face and nose. If you wear purple and yellow sunglasses to show people around that you are unique, you could end up looking like a clown, if you don’t have the personality to carry it off. There shouldn’t be peer pressure, and you should be comfortable in what you wear. I personally do not like boots, shirts, and jeans that are fitting. You don’t have to get a tattoo to be a rapper. Focus on your work and then people will look up to you. Late APJ Kalam and Rajinikanth are among the stylish people that I like.

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