Introducing Dino Smokes

June 15, 201813 min read

Dino is a young producer from Newport News, Virginia and attends an HBCU called Norfolk State University where he is studying Mass Communications.

I got the chance to catch up with Dino and interview him and talk about his new album “Since 98” and talk about his humble beginnings in music. Dino was very excited to do this interview. You can see the passion in his eyes when he talks about his art.

J: Dino how did you begin making music?

D:Actually I started in church. A member of this family I was close to in the church named Manny was really into making music and sound production. I was young and I was really inspired so I started sitting and watching him. I loved it. At the time I was in middle school just writing raps. Eventually he began to teach me the ins an outs of music production. From there, I just started doing my own thing and that was that. around the age of 13 is when I really got deeply involved in my music.

J: That;s honestly one of the dopest stories about musical beginnings that I’ve ever heard. You don’t hear everyday that everyday. It’s good that you had someone in your life that inspired you, rather than a musical figure. That’s cool too, but being taught by someone close to you is a more cherish-able memory. By the way, which artists would you say you listened to the most growing up?

D: Man that’s a long time ago, but from what I can remember it was basically what my mother was playing in the car. Artists like Jay-Z, Mase, Da Brat, Biggie, Diddy, and then you got Jermaine Dupri, Drew Hill, 112, you know. My mother was heavily playing music. Now when I was in middle school and started to figure out what music I really liked I would say I started to spend a lot of time listening to Odd Future. They were such a unique group, especially at the time they came out. They weren’t considered be like the usual mainstream rappers and they were comfortable with being themselves. Of course I listened to Kendrick around the time he dropped “Swimming Pools”. Then it was Childish Gambino, SZA during her “See SZA Run” days, Drake, Jay Cole, etc. Out of all of them Odd Future was definitely my favorite. Nowadays it varies one minute i’m listening to Lil Yatchy and the next minute I can be listening to Erykah Badu.

J: You really have a good foundation for music there. You also don’t limit yourself to listening to only one style of rap. You don’t put yourself in a box. So, what would you say your purpose for making music is?

D: That’s a really good question and i’m glad you asked me that. I would have to say it’s to inspire those to be themselves. There are a lot of faces out here, but at the same time there are a lot of masks. It kinds of makes you wonder, where a re the real people at? I feel as if you can inspire people through music you can inspire people to be themselves. If it wasn’t for Tyler The Creator I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. He influenced me to be like yo just be yourself bro and don’t put up a facade. There’s no point in trying to be something that you’re not. That’s just what I did. So I feel as if that’s what i’m supposed to do in my music as well. That’s the same thing I try to show in my music.

J: I can see that you’re very passionate about that. It’s good to have an artist that doesn’t put up a facade. There might be a young boy who is out there listening to the music or who will listen to your music in the future who’s going to be inspired by you, just lie you were when you were his age. Too many artist nowadays promote unrealistic lives and have kids out here thinking that they’re a loser if they don’t live that type of life. Now when you release a song, what emotions do you intend your audience to feel?

D: It really depends on the song. My song “Popstar”, when I was recording it in the summertime I was listening to the beat and it sounded real sweet, chill, and kind of turnt. More of a turnt type of chill beat. When I hopped on the beat I wanted to sound real chill. I really wanted everyone to feel like you in your jam, you’re groove, or whatever, but at the same time you’re kind of lit. Basically to feel like you’re at a kickback. A i’m on my steez type of vibe. Now my song “Patent Leather Coach” is more of i’m tryna turn up song. When the beat drops you get lit. Basically whatever i’m feeling in that moment is how I want my listeners to feel.

J: I’ve listening to those two songs and i’d definitely say you hit it right on the nail. “Popstar” feels like a summer chill and carefree vibe. When I listen to that song I feel like i/ have no cares in the wordl. “Patent Leather coach” just makes me want to dance and be wild. It feels like a party, maybe project x type party. Now who would say are your greatest inspirations?

D: Tyler the Creator definitely, Erykah Badu, J. Cole, Pharrell, Timbaland, and Playboi Carti because of his energy. I tske different aspects from everybody. Playboi Carti has the ability to get any crowd turnt with the snap of a finger, which influences me to create energy through my songs. Drake because of how versatile he is. He is able to get on any song. That’s what ‘i feel like i’m able to do. I feel as if you can put me on any song no matter what song you put me on, no matter the genre, i’ll body it. I feel like I can go in any lane. Not to sound cocky, but i’m very confident in myself.

J: I like that. You sound like you have a whole method to it. You truly have  passion for music and look at not only music style, but the personality as well. Last question Dino. Where do you see you music career in the next three years and where do you intend to be?

D: Well that’s a tough one. Let me start off with where I intend to be. I intend to just have my name out there, doing shows, whether it’s local or in another state. Even if it isn’t tour. Now where I want to be is on tour. That’s really where I want to be. I want to at least be doing a couple cities tours. I also see myself in Cali, Texas, or ATL working on music for big name artists or at least starting to get to that point. Honestly at the end of the day i just want to be making music. Fame and fortune would be nice, but if I don’t get those things then that’s okay too.

J: I can definitely see you making a lot of progression Dino. You sound driven and I cans see you have your attainable goals mapped out. You put in a lot of work. I loved the album. I can see you want to do music for you and not for the fame. Last question, on average how long would you say it takes you to work on a song. Would you say perfection is important to you?

D: No funny it really is. Believe it or not there were like four different versions of Patent Leather Coach. I was changing the hook and I added another hook and i was changing around where the verse was going to be and where the hook was gonna come in at because I felt like I was repeating myself and the song was too long I had the beginning repeating itself and I decided I didn’t want to do that. If it doesn’t sound like how I picture it in my head I won’t even finish the project. I’ll leave the song long and come back to it later. As far as average for me to do a song that i’ll legitimately put out it would be one or two weeks because i’ll work on it, record it, and listen to it be like this is sweet, but I wanna add something to it. Then i go back add it, listen again, and see what I like.

J: I really love your creative process. You are your own biggest critic and that’s how it should be. You want nothing but the best and there’s nothing wrong with that. Do you have any new projects in the works?

D: I have so many actually. I have so much to get done. I would say probably at least five. On top of the album I just put out.

J: You are a busy man Dino and I don’t want to hold you up. Before I get out of your hair, what would you say is your favorite song off your album?

D: I caught what you did there, but that’s a hard question I would say it’s Speed because speed has a real story behind it. Every time I hear that song i’m reliving the story and I can remember exactly how it happened. Speed takes me to other places that the rest of the songs don’t.

J: Wow that’s amazing. Thank you for interviewing with me Dino. It’s been a pleasure and good luck to you.

D: No problem. Thank you for having me.


Make sure y’all check out Dino’s album “Since 98” on spotify and soundcloud. The soundcloud link is below


Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/theom3ga/sets/since-98

Spotify: Dino Smokes




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Jamie Turner

I am a young black female currently enrolled at Norfolk State University earning a B.A. in Political Science. I am 19 going on 20 and I am very pro-black and pro-women's rights. Originally I am from the 412(Pittsburgh, PA) but I grew up mostly in the DMV area, Northern Virginia to be exact. I love poetry. That's my strongest style of writing. I am also a gym rat and I'm into health, especially body and skin health.