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Alisha Shinde
Monday, 25 February 2019

In conversation with rapper MC Dodo who has won the Pune leg of Red Bull Spotlight — a search for the country’s next hip-hop star

By now most of you would know what the underground hip-hop scene looks like in India after the release of Gully Boy. However that’s not the only thing that the movie focused on. It also showed how passion and hard work can take you to your destination and help you realise your dream.

Ashutosh Rokde, aka MC Dodo, who relentlessly pursued his passion, became one of the finalists for season two of Red Bull Spotlight, after winning the Pune leg of the competition which was recently held at Wadia College. After a successful first edition, Red Bull Spotlight returns for season two this year — this time as a search for India’s next hip-hop star. Rokde will be joined by finalists from eight other cities including Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Hyderabad, Guwahati, Ahmedabad and Chandigarh — for the national finals in Mumbai.

Talking to our very own ‘gully boy’ we find out more about his journey and his passion for hip-hop.

“Coming from a humble background I obviously did not have anything easy in life, be it opportunities or even education. Whatever little exposure I had was from the people around me,” says Rokde adding that almost 6-7 years back he decided that he wanted to get into hip-hop. “Initially, I started listening to Yo Yo Honey Singh and was awed by the way he was so quick and swift with his lyrics and the way he rapped. Little did I understand what he was rapping about and hardly paid heed to what he really was saying. That’s when I decided that I too should try rapping and started rapping his songs,” Rokde shares. 

He, however, wasn’t very comfortable rapping in Hindi so he made the switch to his mother tongue — Marathi. “As I grew up, I realised what I was listening to was just glorifying a culture I did not want to be a part of. I wanted my rap to be clean and mostly of what I am and what my culture is and what the story of several others like me is. That’s when I started writing my own rap and started following the underground rap scene in Pune,” says Rokde.
   
Ask him if his parents were supportive of his decision of rapping and he says that it was a clear ‘no’ from them. “That is what happens when you belong to a country where the only profession looked up to is engineering and you are expected to do a 9-5 job, but I wasn’t cut out for that. Anything creative gave me a kick. I even did break dance for a while but now that has taken a backseat since I have started working with a private firm, so my mother is pretty happy about that and even supports my dreams now.”    

About getting selected in the Pune leg for the Red Bull Spotlight event, he says, “One day ahead of the audition a friend of mine mentioned it to me and since I had been writing my own lyrics I thought I should give it a shot. Little did I know I would be selected which is nothing less than a dream.” One thing that he really liked about the competition is, “People there don’t judge you on the basis of how you look or what you wear. They judge you on your skill and talent — it was an enriching experience if you ask me.” 

Talking about how he is preparing for the finals, he says, “I know the best of the best will be chosen from across the country and even though I have been in the scene for a long time now, I think I just need to polish off my lyrics and, most importantly, be confident when I perform. I know I have a spark in me and I will show it at the finals.” 
 
After the completion of the city rounds, one winner from each place will be flown to Mumbai for the finals, where, following a showcase by each of the finalists, one national champion will be crowned. The national champion will be given the opportunity to record a full-length album at a professional studio, plus other benefits including a full press kit — complete with a photo shoot and album art for the newly recorded album — and a music video. In addition, each of the city winners will be given studio time to record one song along with a video.

To participate and for details, log on to: www.redbull.in/spotlight

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