Raaj Jones is a former Radio Jockey and a YouTuber. Music is his life, and he aims to bring light to hip-hop. He wants people to get inspired by music and the artists that create them. He wants to uplift the talent and give them a platform.
He has interviewed various artists, each with a story of their own. Artists like Badshah, Yo Yo Honey Singh, DIVINE, and many more. His words are inspiring, and we loved talking to him. Here’s what he had to say to Team Storiyaan.
Questions and answers
Let's start by asking about your early years in Nainital in Uttarakhand.
I was born in Bhowali; it’s a district 10 km away from Nainital. I studied there until 2nd grade. Growing up, I spent most of my time with my paternal uncle and a few friends. My dad used to work in Delhi, so I completed my schooling there. Every summer, we would return to Bhowali and Pithoragarh – also known as mini Kashmir of India. My maternal grandmother lives there. I have been busy due to work, but I still try to take some time and visit there at least once a year.
What is the story behind the phrase- "Delhi ka sabse filmy launda"?
During my childhood days, I rarely ever read books. I used to enjoy reading Film magazines like Filmy Kaliya or movie articles and columns in newspapers, etc. Also, long back, I used to work with OYE 104.8 FM. The tagline of the FM “All time sabse filmy” resonated with me and my personality. That’s where the idea of “Delhi ka sabse filmy launda” budded from. Later, when I started growing more, I changed it to “India ka sabse filmy launda.”
There is a considerable rise in the number of YouTubers. What are some of the low-budget equipment that you would recommend to the newbies?
Everybody has their preferences. I have just ventured into vlogging and vlog using my old phone. I also bought the MI Selfie stick stand. They work fine for me. Using a GoPro could be difficult, and not everyone can be comfortable with it. So it’s a personal choice, I’d say. You can use whatever you are comfortable with.
You have witnessed hip hop culture in Uttarakhand as well as Dehradun. What are the similarities and differences you noticed in the term of dialect and theme?
It’s almost the same. But if you ask me why I made that documentary, I wanted to make it for some time now. I started with Uttarakhand for obvious reasons. It is my birthplace and is very close to my heart. I had heard that there were many talented artists there who were underrated. I wanted to give them a platform and uplift hem. I honestly believe people should check their work because their work is too good to miss. But without these amazing artists, my documentary wouldn’t have been possible, and I am grateful for them.
Were you intimidated by any celebrity before conducting an interview? How do you manage to comfort yourself in such situations?
I have been through that phase. What I do is that I always reach early for the interview. We talk over tea and snacks. This helps me break the ice between us and eliminate any kind of awkwardness. I also avoid meals before an interview since it makes me feel lethargic. After the interview is over, we have food together and build a comforting environment.
On your YouTube channel, you have a separate playlist where you have interviewed Punjabi singers. Who are your favorite Punjabi icons amongst contemporary and yesteryear artists?
There are many. I listen to all Punjabi songs. My experience with everyone has been amazing. I did have a different experience with Parmish Verma. He was there to promote his movie “Rocky Mental.” We completed the interview within 10 minutes, therefore. While he was leaving, I asked him, “Where do you live in Chandigarh? Can I have your number? I’d love to do a full interview with you.” He said, let’s do it now. He canceled all his other interviews, and we did an entire 45 minutes interview. I was overwhelmed by his gestures. I want to interview Gurgaon Pratap. He has a very positive vibe in all of his interviews and songs and an exceptionally bright outlook.
It amazes me to see such an optimistic person.
Talking about your latest work, i.e., "Uttrakhand Hip Hop Series," what compelled you to document it in the form of a series, and can you tell us some interesting things you noticed about the culture?
Uttarakhand is filled with culture and talent. Their work is amazing. Whenever I am in Uttarakhand – be it my hometown or Dehradun – it always feels like home. There is this incredible amount of unity amongst us – as a family. I have never felt like an outsider. A lot of my memories are about Dehradun’s delicious street food like chicken burgers and momos.
What is the story behind conceptualizing your merchandise, and can you take us through the process of listing it on an e-commerce website?
Many ideas keep popping up in my head. Knowing that people admire my work makes me happy. Some of my fans make merchandise for me, and I wear them as well as my own. It makes me feel respected. Whenever I come across a quote I like, I print it on my merch. Collaborations lead to the generation of new ideas.
How do you manage your roles as a Radio Jockey and a YouTuber? When do you relax amidst all of this?
I enjoy it. I do not stress out. I believe whatever would happen, we can see to it later on. I enjoy myself with my friends. I do not drink or smoke or do unnecessary things. Nor does my friend. We go out on a drive at night. There’s this fantastic place in Lajpat Nagar near defense colony where we frequent to for chicken. Then we go to Naturals and have an ice-cream. Then we have some juice and head home. But you also need to work out.
You are associated with 104.8 OYE FM. How does a normal day at work look like? Were there days when it became hectic?
I have worked in Radio for more than eight years. I have been a radio jockey for 2-3 years. I used to interview celebrities. In this industry, you need to have a good voice and a sense of humor. You have to be spontaneous, knowledgeable, and updated. That’s it.
What are some of the Ideal Traits of an RJ? Can you give some tips on voice modulation, engagement with the audience, and presence of mind to people who want to get into the field?
Firstly, the improvisation is very important. For instance, if I ask an actor if they are single or not, most of them give a straightforward answer. Though some might get offended, I’d have to tell them it’s from the audience and not one of my questions. I also tell them their fans would be disappointed if they don’t get an answer. It’s all improvisation. You have to bring the conversation back onto that subject. Talent, wittiness, and being knowledgeable is important as well.
Being an RJ or a YouTuber, one has to interact a lot with the audience. Do you feel overwhelmed and tired while constantly engaging with them for a long time?
I used to work on the Radio, but I made sure I only did one interview per day. I have done 2 or 3 as well, and it gets chaotic. It’s a lot of effort. You have to work according to the celebrities’ schedules. But I enjoy doing an interview a day because then I can research properly and well. I pray I get an interview a day so I can nail it.
What are some of the Hip-Hop meets you have attended? Any memorable incident that will stay with you forever?
I have attended SO many hip-hop meets. Hip-hop and Raaj Jones are synonymous. I have attended every hip hop meet in Delhi. I had even hosted many of those when I went there as an artist to perform. I have even done many of them for free without taking a penny. It gives a real kick. I just love it.
Sometimes, we need people to urge us to follow our passions. Who encouraged you to do so?
I don’t have a plan A or B. I know it’s not exactly right, but I believe you should love what you do and do what you love. Initially, Radio was my passion, and I worked hard for that. Do what you are passionate about and work hard to achieve your dreams. If you want to be XYZ, do it properly. It’s important to learn and understand that craft. You need to give it some time. Kids these days ask me how much they would earn in an internship. I tell them to work and understand the process first. When I was in Radio, I used to hire such interns, and they used to ask me, “What’s the easiest job in the field?” I jokingly used to reply that it was to serve tea. There are many departments on the Radio. People know the radio jockey, but there’s a producer, a music manager and so many other people involved. And now it’s become digital. So open your mind and introspect. Find where you fit in, work in that field, and you’ll be successful.
From Rajendra Prasad (Birth Name) to 'Delhi Ka Sabse Filmy Launda,' how has your journey been so far?
It has been a great journey. People love me a lot. Wherever I go, I am treated very nicely. People ask me about hip-hop, and I love doing this. My aim is simple – Spread awareness about hip-hop across the nation. I want to inspire people with rap. That’s the best way to tell your story. You have the story; all you need is a beat. I just enjoy my work very much, and that’s why I do it.