Thailand’s godfather of hip hop Daboyway on the scene’s evolution and his love for film | Yo! MTV Raps exclusive interview

30 August 2019

Interview conducted by Daniel Peters. Photo by All Is Amazing

Since the birth of Thai hip hop Daboyway has been an integral force in the scene. He's part of the chart-topping hip hop group Thaitanium, with countless hits over a career spanning 17 years. Daboyway has been featured on Beats 1 Radio with Ebro Darden, and has collaborated with international artists including Anarchy and Snoop Dogg. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, he's made Bangkok his base to build his empire.

Apart from music, he's also the founder of NeverSayCutz (NVSC) barber shops, with 24 stores and counting across Thailand. NVSC has grown into street culture hub, where communities meet to exchange ideas about street art, hip hop and fashion.

In 2019, 'Way is launching his solo self-titled project, the first-ever release under Def Jam Thailand. Two singles are already out ahead of the album's release – Won Arai and GangSh!t, in May and August respectively. Check out his performance of GangSh!t for MTV Asia Spotlight:

Daboyway also graced Yo! MTV Raps episode 3 as our special guest – catch his smoking-hot performance – on a train, of course – below!

MTV Asia: You've held the hip-hop banner high in Thailand for over a decade. How has Thai hip hop changed since you first broke into its scene?

Daboyway: There are a lot more artists and a lot more outlets, more media outlets at this present state in Thai hip hop. Hip hop is the biggest thing in Thailand right now – compared to when I first came out, when it was more underground.

How was your experience on Yo! MTV Raps? Any surprises?

It was good, it was a lot of fun being out in KL and seeing a whole bunch of artists that I worked with before, and also I got to meet a lot of new friends. It was dope and overall a dope experience. 

You've proudly grown under the influence of 90s hip hop, but what modern hip hop moves and inspires you?

The golden era of hip hop is definitely the 90s, and I rocked with the 2000 rappers too, so I like Dave East and Anderson Paak, Kendrick Lamar and Migos. DaBaby is dope and on fire right now. I listen and I still keep my interest in a lot of the new music that comes out to see where the game is at the moment; I love it all.

There's talk of you working on 16 Baris Thailand. How's that been going?

Working with 16 Baris Thailand has been dope. As I step into the executive position at Def Jam Thailand, it's good to keep my ears on the street and see the up-and-coming rappers and the new rappers get down, so yeah, it's been dope. They are shooting the first season and a lot of talent and a lot of heat are coming through with each episode, so shoutout to Flizzow!

Your professional experiences have taken you all over the world. If there was one city you could live in (other than Bangkok), which would it be and why?

I like Tokyo and Barcelona.

Which city is the most underrated, in your opinion?

I just recently went to Norway and I kinda like Oslo!

What's one piece of advice you received as a young rapper that still guides you to this day?

At the end of the day, if you're up, you can definitely go down. Don't think that you're invincible and that you're gonna be on top easily. You are going to have to work hard and there will be days where you feel like you're falling, but you gotta be humble. What goes up comes down really quick, so be humble, be on time, and be responsible.

You also love film, judging from your acting experience.

I've been on like 30–35 movie productions ranging from student films to full features, so yeah, acting is something I like. When I was younger I went to acting school at this studio in New York City with Susan Batson, it was real dope.

How was it on set at your first movie? Were there any nerves?

It was on a Thai set, it was a full feature and a thriller and I didn't really speak Thai all that well, which was evident on screen. But I had the most amazing time with the cast and the crew, and it made me fall in love with acting.

Would you ever want to direct a feature-length film?

I have! I have starred, directed, executive-produced and financed a film called Choice with my boy Ben Clash. First time and probably last time – I do not want to. If I'm directing, I don't want to be acting, or if I could direct and act, I don't want to be doing anything else but directing and acting.

Which film have you seen that you count as a life-changing experience? Why?

Off the top of my head, the Lion King! When Mufasa died, I don't know if it was life changing, but shout-out to the new version of Lion King! 

What does the future of hip hop look like to you? 

Hip hop is heavily influencing culture around the world at the moment – everything is hip hop. And it will continue to grow and have different sub-genres and variations; it's become this worldwide thing and hopefully will become this universal thing.

For more interviews with Daboyway, check out MTV Asia Spotlight

Catch the full episode 3 of Yo! MTV Raps featuring special guest Daboyway on YouTube

Subscribe to MTV Asia on YouTube for more Yo! MTV Raps

Wanna discover more rappers in Asia? Check out Yo! MTV Raps: Rapper Roundup and our Yo! Rappers series


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Thailand’s godfather of hip hop Daboyway on the scene’s evolution and his love for film | Yo! MTV Raps exclusive interview