Dino james | James is the first Indian rapper to cross amillion subscribers on his YouTube channel. He speaks with Shalini Saksena about his latest video Bhokali and how the rap culture is changing fast in in the country
How does it feel to finally live your dream?
I can’t say that I am living my dream. I am happy that I am on it. It is great that God has given me a direction. Sometimes, people don’t get this direction. I am blessed in this regard.
Did you always want to be a singer-composer?
I never thought that I would be a rapper-singer. I have not learnt music or how to write professionally. It never crossed my mind to be a singer. But it just so happened that I was in a situation. A person came and sat next to me and started playing the guitar. This was probably God’s way of telling me that I had it in me to be a rapper.
You were in Mumbai earlier as well for seven years. What had brought you to the city back then?
I was in the city to explore. Eventually, I started acting. I did a lot of theatre. I did cameos in films. I stood behind the lines like a junior artist. I did everything that I could do back then. But then, I went back home and came back seven years later and joined Pradeep Sarkar and worked with him for three years before I did my own thing.
Did you want to be an actor then and bing s singer fell into your lap?
Yes, I wanted to be an actor. But I was not getting enough work. There was fear that this might not happen. I was 19 when I came to Mumbai in 2002. Stayed here for seven years. But then went back with my dad for two years and tried to get into his business. But came back to the city again in 2012.
How have these six years been?
These have been the best years of my life in terms of clarity — what I wanted to do — in terms of work that I have done and want to do. These years have been enlightenment; many of us die with many of our talent unexplored. But I am happy that I have been given this opportunity. I rap, write, sing and meet new people. These have been gifted years.
How has the rap culture changed in India?
It has changed in the last three years. A lot of things have changed when it comes to the digital platform. I was in a situation and wanted an outlet for my angst. Two of my songs on my channel were doing well. Yet, I didn’t want to tell people that I was a rapper. I wanted to make good videos and good music. I am grateful that people have accepted me and I have had so many views including my latest video.
Do you think that rap is something that Indians love?
Sound and music changes with each generation. You had rock that was popular. Now you have rap. There are artists like Badshah and Honey Singh who have been rapping commercially. But hardcore rap will gain popularity with Gully Boy. People will get to hear a different sound and realise that something like this also exists.
Does this mean that the Indians have a lot to learn?
I would not say that they have to learn. They just don’t know that hardcore rap involves storytelling and involves hard work when it comes to writing the song, that artists give out their experiences. But after the movie, I am hoping that it will open people to this kind of music as well.
Will the movie help open doors for hardcore rap in films?
There is scope for all kind of music. But yes, a lot of heads are going to turn. As long as you give good content, there will be plenty of opportunities. But because I have my own channel, I do have a sense of freedom. I don’t have to beg for work. People now know about my work but it will take time to for the shift to happen.