Dimpie Dimpopo. Image courtesy of artist.

Interview: Dimpie Dimpopo on Channeling Online Clout into a Lucrative Career

We chat to Internet sensation Dimpie Dimpopo about his moves and music.

This interview is part of a series of interviews and profiles on amapiano artists and personalities sponsored by Corona. You can follow the rest of the series here.

Dimpie Dimpopo (real name Nadiem Poen) is an all-round entertainer. He became popular in South Africa after a series of gig guide videos he was consistently sharing on his Instagram account since 2018. His favorite catch phrase "Oh Nkosi Yami!" is now used by many South Africans, especially in the party scene. Dimpie is a staple in the country's dance scene which is dominated by the house subgenre amapiano at the moment.

This Internet fame has enabled the 23-year-old to share his other gifts with his growing fanbase. When he sits down for an interview with OkayAfrica, he is preparing for his first stand-up comedy show, and has just returned from a meeting to seal a partnership with an automobile brand that's collaborating with him for a campaign.

After appearing on the song "Ohh Nkosi Yami" alongside Moonchild Sanelly, DJ Maphorisa and Dlala Lazz in 2018, Dimpie released his solo EP in October of 2019. The album is titled I Am Still A Child and sees the artist recite children's lullabies and songs over gqom production.

Dimpie Dimpopo recently appeared on SHAYA!, a documentary detailing the amapiano scene, powered by Corona and directed by Thabang "Papercutt" Moloto. In the Q&A below, we chat to Dimpie Dimpopo about his childhood, luck, amapiano, gqom and his current projects and plans.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity

How did you come up with your name?

The name Dimpie itself, without Dimpopo being involved, came from my real name, which is Nadiem. So, it's just like a nickname, Nadiem, Dimpie. And the Dimpopo one came from the streets, from the hood. You know, the guys that are running after me claiming now they want invoices for the name that they've given me.

Before you got on the internet and became the Dimpie that everyone knows, what were you doing?

I was actually hustling, hey. We started putting the idea of the videos and stuff to the test. But at first it was just like a joke. You know how it is mos, you never know what the outcome will be. And then when stuff started getting interesting, it was crazy, and it just blew from there.

When you were starting out with the videos, what did you have in mind?

I've always wanted to be a public figure, like an internet sensation, and a motivational speaker. I always wanted to be on radio and TV, but I never knew at that point how it's going to work out and how I'm going to get there, because I know this industry is quite crazy. It's tough being there. So, when we started the videos on Facebook, and people started sharing them, I opened an Instagram account, which a friend helped me with, with his airtime and his data.

Then I uploaded the videos on Instagram and then before I knew it, someone shared the video on Twitter and it got retweeted a lot. And then TrendingSA came in and then people started taking me serious. And yeah, I've done a lot of stuff, but it was just amazing. It's crazy. It's still crazy at this point how it came to what it is, especially today. So, it's just God's work all through.

Maphorisa featured you in a song "Ohh Nkosi Yami." How did that feel and how did it come about?

Firstly, I'd like to say thanks for the opportunity to DJ Maphorisa. He's an international DJ, that guy is very good. And he's been in the game for years now. How we got to make a song together is I was doing the videos in the car, as you've seen, the promotion ones promoting the events. And then I think Maphorisa saw one of the videos, and I was vibing to one of his songs in the video. And then he hit me up on Instagram, which I thought, at first, was a joke. So, I was like to my manager, "Maphorisa sent a message." And then we had to go through that account in detail to make sure it's his account. Then he was like, "Here's my number, call me."

And then boom, I called him. He's like, "Dimpie, pull through, let's work something out together." I got there, got something to eat and something to sip on, and then we worked on music. It was quite hectic, but it took almost 30 minutes for the song to be done.

How long did you take making your EP I'm Still A Child?

All of those five songs on the EP took one day.

How has the response to the EP been?

It's just been crazy. Ever since the EP dropped [in October], it's been going viral. It's been doing crazy in the US and the UK. So, I have a few fans and people on Instagram and WhatsApp from the UK and The States.

You used a child photo of you in the cover and gave it a name about you being a child. Please break down the concept of the EP.

The story behind it, why actually it's called, I'm Still A Child and why we've used the picture that is on the cover picture, it's to let elderly people get those flashbacks, and so the small ones can learn something new.

So, what we did is we aimed to use lullabies. So, the songs on the EP are all those songs, like, "One, two, buckle my shoe…" So, my idea and the whole process behind it was to let the small kids be able to sing to it. It's like the catchy phrases, they can learn something new.

Dlala Lazz, DJ Maphorisa - Ohh Nkosi Yami ft. Dimpie Dimpopo, Moonchild

So, you are heavily into the amapiano lifestyle.

Most definitely. Most definitely. But on I'm Still A Child, all five songs are gqom. But amapiano itself is a good genre. It has created a lot of opportunities for people out there to elevate, especially in the music industry. But why I'm Still A Child is gqom is because I was planning on tapping not only into the Joburg market, but also places like Durban, Cape Town and PE where gqom is popular.

What do you make of the success of amapiano, especially for a person from Gauteng?

A lot of the time, it's felt like the dance culture is moving to Durban, because they started with kwaito back then, and then they came up with gqom, but now finally Gauteng has something that has everyone looking at it.

Amapiano has created a lot of opportunities and platforms for a lot of DJs; the likes of Kabza De Small, JazziDisciples, MFR Souls, who are very close friends of mine and introduced me to amapiano.

So, most of the songs I have on my phone are by the guys I just mentioned and other artists who are coming up. So, I think it's done a good job and it's still doing a good job. People are even creating dances for the songs.

What does a day in the life for you include?

On a day-to-day basis, if it's during the week, it's meetings in and out for endorsement and sponsorship deals. And shoots, whether it's photo shoots or music video shoots. Like, I just recently got back yesterday from doing a music video for some kwaito song. You see that's the type of stuff I'm more interested in because I know I've already gathered people of amapiano around me. So, I'm trying to elevate myself further.

Half of the time I'm on the road. And if I do get free time, I watch movies and play Xbox. I don't read much, though I have a lot of books at home. On weekends, ng'yajiva.

Stream Dimpie Dimpopo's latest EP I Am Still A Child below:

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