Gino October is the promising hip-hop artist you need to hear

South African born, Auckland-based rapper Gino October releases an impressive new EP shaped by his family’s immigration story, writes Sarah Downs

South African born, Auckland-based rapper Gino October found refuge in hip-hop music when he immigrated at age 12 to New Zealand with his family.

Now 26, Gino’s new EP Look How Far We’ve Come, shares his journey to a new country in the way he’s come to express himself best: rapping out his emotionally-charged memory bank to some slick, melodic beats.

The impressive seven-track project follows Gino’s earlier Spotify releases, festival slots, and being signed to major label last year.

“Moving to New Zealand was such a culture shock. I didn’t see hardly anyone that looked like me. I was this little kid that stuck out with an afro,” says Gino, speaking to The 13th Floor.

“The only thing that I could relate too were the music videos of African American rappers I would watch on T.V. I remember thinking that’s who I am, and I wanted to do what they did. I found my identity through hip-hop music.”

On the EP’s jolting debut single, Better For Ya Gino paints a vivid image of the dangerous Mitchells Plain area of Cape Town his family once called home – “The streets are dangerous / Stay in your parent’s sight or get kidnap by strangers,” goes the first verse, and later he spits out “Wondering who’s trying to steal shit, kill shit, real shit that my parents always had to deal with.”

Gino recalls falling asleep to the sound of gunshots in his neighbourhood – something his family “didn’t want me growing up in,” he says, “but when we got to NZ my brother and I had no idea what they were thinking.”

Complex in its narrative, the stand out track captures the feelings of confusion, isolation, and vulnerability, children of immigrant families go through.

The mood ultimately shifts to uplifting, reflecting Gino’s appreciation for the foresight of his parents, and his realisation “they did just wanted ‘something better for us,” he says.

First raised on the Motown classics of his parent’s vinyl collection like The Stylistics, and the Temptations, it was Gino’s older brother who got him hooked on hip hop. The title track Look How Far We’ve Come is a nod to their brotherly bond, made inseparable by the move. To this day, his biggest fans remain his family.

Much like the rest of Look How Far We’ve Come – unfolding with trap-heavy party tracks and the breezy Enjoy The Ride – Gino has travelled from his upbringing to his current reality as an artist on the cusp and is making his mark on the local music scene.

He admits he’s come a long way since he first started flipping words, and is now “trying to make songs that tell a story.”

“I don’t think I could have made something like Better For Ya back then. If my younger self could look at me now, he would be really proud.”

Auckland rapper Gino October’s new EP Look How Far We’ve Come is out this month.

Sitting on a bunch of new songs written in lockdown, Gino’s dream of music is still cut with the reality of a part-time job, he says.

“I’m trying hard to follow my dreams but I also have to deal with reality. Music doesn’t pay the bills – at least not at the start.”

He’s edging closer to his goals though, with a performance at The Tuning Fork on November 13, alongside other rising local talents. This will be Gino’s first gig in months and has been a long time coming.

“I used to work in a building just across Spark Arena. I would look over at it almost every day and tell myself I’m going to perform there. This is like a little stepping stone.”


  • Buy tickets for Gino’s performance at Phoenix Summit: After Dark at The Tuning Fork, November 13, at