Grime star Gino Bonazzi may have achieved over three million views on YouTube but he still lives in the house he grew up in with his mum, Donna.
“There’s a lot of people that don’t love their mums or their family but family are the key,” he says. “If your family don’t love you how are your viewers going to love you?”
He is also known for handing out clothes to homeless people on the streets and paying his old school, Mellers Primary, a visit to give an inspirational talks to the pupils.
But on the music front he’s known for such songs as Now That I’m Out, Turn It Up and #OK and has been around grime collective Boy Better Know since he was a teenager.
He recently featured in Big Narstie and Craig David’s music video for When the Bassline Drops but his current success is a far cry from where he started; getting the train to gigs and freestyling with friends at his local barbers aged 13.
“I’m not a guy who’s had everything growing up, nor am I a guy who’s had nothing. I’ve always been alright. I was looked after,” says Bonazzi, now 23, who is from the inner-city area of Radford, Nottingham.
“A lot of people will say that Eminem was their inspiration but I’ve always had good people around me and good family, they were the people I was looking up to.”
2013 July –Now That I’m Out is released on YouTube and watched more than 1,250,000 times. December –#OK is released on YouTube, which has attracted over 750,000 views
2014 October – appears on stage with Skepta at the MOBOs as the Boy Better Know artist picks up an award for Best Video. Turn It Up is released on YouTube, gaining almost 600,000 views.
2015 November – spotted at the MOBOs wearing a Vivienne Westwood suit when Stormzy accepted an award for Best Grime Act on stage. Switches on Christmas lights at Canning Circus, Nottingham
2016 January – appears in Craig David and Big Narstie’s When the Bassline Drops music video
Gino is one of a wave of artists who have broken through since Grime as a style of music emerged around 2000, championed by Dizzee Rascal, Wiley and Lethal Bizzle.
Today, the genre continues to rise through two men: Skepta, whose track Shutdown was singled out by many as the track of 2015, and Stormzy, who in the same year won Best Male Act at the MOBOs (Music of Black Origin awards), so much so that grime is now taking off in the US.
Gino’s most successful release on YouTube, Now That I’m Out, has reached over one million views and is about his six-month spell in prison.
He’s extremely proud of the reaction it sparked.
“When I did the video, it was like, wow. It hit a million hits straight away.
“People were like ‘Woah, Gi, this is going crazy. This isn’t like normal music no more. This is like serious stuff. You’re getting 100,000 hits in a week. Who’s getting that in Nottingham? No one.’
“It is a big achievement. The average guy couldn’t do that. You need something about you to get those hits on YouTube. Something that the people get attached to.”
As well as a summer single with Wiley to release this year, he will also be making his film debut as a criminal kingpin in Dark Angels, a Take 1 Studio production and a rare crime film from the female perspective.
“There are three women, all girlfriends to these gangsters, and it gets to the point where they’re like ‘we don’t want to take this shit no more, we know everything about these guys: where they put the drugs, where all the money is, let’s just take the money and go.’
“I got the call when the film was nearly finished because the guy that was meant to play the role couldn’t.
“They gave me a script but I just freestyled with it, it’s the best way. It only took a couple of takes.”
This year the grime star is also seeking an unusual collaboration with a fellow Nottingham talent, indie singer Jake Bugg.
“He’s a good lad. I want to get hold of him. A collaboration would be crazy. We could take Nottingham to a different level.”