GinoTheGhost’s Instagram bio reads: “multi-Platinum supervillain 💿📈,” which is exactly the energy he brings into the music industry. Hailing from Detroit, the rising star got his start rapping, but somehow songwriting fell into his lap. And not without good reason, Gino The Ghost has established himself as a hitmaker in the game, penning Saweetie’s viral smash hit “My Type,” along with many other songs on her ICY EP. Additionally, he co-wrote “Kills You Slowly” for The Chainsmokers, found on their #1 charting album World War Joy.
In describing himself, Gino states, I’m a perennial shittalker from Detroit, who happens to also make fire music.”
Now, Gino is focused on his own solo artistry, stepping into the limelight as a recording artist in his own right. With his previous single “Easy” featured in the soundtrack to Lionsgate/Hidden Empire’s film Fatale, Gino keeps his foot on the gas pedal by releasing his newest effort, “I’m Outside.” This holds fans over until his forthcoming 6-song EP, arriving sometime this year.
Flaunt caught up with Gino via FaceTime to discuss how he got his name, working with Timbaland, his roots in Detroit, moving to Los Angeles, co-writing Saweetie’s “My Type,” receiving plaques, what makes a hit record, studio essentials, his forthcoming EP, and more!
What was the inspiration behind your name?
My original name was Ghost, because I was a white guy and I was ghostwriting. When I was growing up, I also loved the Ghost pokemon (Gengar)— I’m actually getting him tatted on me. I was super early on Twitter but @ghost and @gino were taken, so I went with @GinoTheGhost. That became my Twitter handle, then I started poppin’ off on Twitter ‘cause I talk a lot of shit and everyone started knowing me as Gino The Ghost.
What’s funny, fast forward many years later, I was working with Timbaland on my artist stuff. I had changed my name to Gino, so I said “I’ma put out music as Gino. I told Timbaland and he says “what? Hell no, you gotta be Gino The Ghost. That shit is way cooler. Go back, change it back.” If Timbaland’s fuckin’ telling me.. it’s Gino The Ghost now.
You started as a rapper before songwriting, correct?
I did, I started as a rapper in Detroit. I was doing a lot of boom bap hip-hop stuff. I was battle rapping, so that’s another way I got started. I came out to LA as an artist, found my way in the industry through songwriting. But now I’m going full-fledged artist mode.
What was the household like growing up in Detroit?
I have a big Italian family and they’re hella supportive. I had to figure out a lot of lessons on my own. Obviously you can rap good, so what? There’s a lot of people that can rap well, so how do you break into the industry? I moved to LA, was humbled quickly by how difficult it is to break in and the way you need to reposition yourself.
You found a cool little family here with Adam [Woss] and everyone, how did that happen?
Me and Adam Small are both from Metro Detroit, but we met out here. He heard a record I did with this mutual friend of ours, a producer. He said “yo, this shit’s fire. You ever thought about songwriting? Because I can get you in the room as a songwriter. I can’t get you in the room as an artist yet, but if you’re down to write with other people, it can be a way for you to break in.” Me and Adam started working together, that’s how we started 3.5 years ago.
Do you remember your first big placement?
Definitely the Saweetie stuff. We started working with Saweetie in the beginning. I was doing a lot of co-writing stuff with her, “My Type” was the biggest record I had. 3x-Platinum, #1 on the radio. It was the first big “alright, I’m here” moment. It got me in a lot of rooms. It’s a big record for me, for sure.
Can you bring us back to that session?
It was a lot of sessions. [laughs] It started in a late session with London on da Track. I had to leave for a flight actually. Right before I left, we started this hook. It was me, her, another writer Alicia. We started on it, came back to it a bunch of times. Kept reworking it, tweaking it, working on it. It’s funny, you do a lot of hit records, and eventually it’s out of your hands what one’s going to go. You do a bunch of records that are dope, but the music gods decided that’d be the one.
How’s it feel to get them plaques?
It’s cool, little accolades. But they’re more so benchmarks than anything. I’m trying to get my own plaques for my own music soon. That’s my goal.
How does it feel now to be going into the limelight as your own artist?
It’s been good. Songwriting, I’m very blessed and grateful for it. I love doing it, but it allowed me to make the relationships and get in the rooms I needed to get into. Position myself so when I do refocus on the artist stuff right now, I’m obviously in a much better place. I learned a lot about songwriting, and what makes a hit record a hit record. Now that I’m shifting back to my own stuff, it’s allowed me to approach everything different. View myself as an artist instead of a guy who likes to rap. It’s been a lot of finding my sound, my style, what direction I want to go. As a writer, I can do a lot of different things. Alright, what’s my sound gonna be? What are Gino The Ghost records going to sound like?
How would you describe your sound?
l did a record recently with 94 Skrt and Jae Green called “Cough Drop,” which leans a little more pop-urban. It’s time I shifted back into rap though— how I started. At heart, I’m a shit talker. I’m a menace. I’m blowing up on TikTok right now as this supervillain shit-talking character. I’ve got 75,000 followers in 4 days, crazy.
What are you saying on there?
What I do best—running my slick mouth, being myself. The music that most aligns with that is that in your face, Italian from Detroit style. That’s what I’m shifting to next. My next record is a song called “I’m Outside” with TrapMoneyBenny. I’m excited about that one.
You have a song called “Quarantine,” what’s the inspiration behind “I’m Outside”?
The term “I’m outside” I think is a New York term originally. I’m outside, I’m out here. Come see me. Detroit has adapted it into its own thing as well. Growing up, there’s a record by an artist named Dusty McFly called “I’m Out Here.” It was a local fucking anthem, the hottest song for a while in Detroit. “I’m out here. I’m out here. I’m out here.” [sings song] It means everything: I’m in the streets, come fuck with me. A lot of people are going to think it’s about the pandemic being finally over, so we’re outside again. It is that, but it just worked out that way. The record’s really me talking shit about I’m that dude. I’m out here. I’m outside, come see me. It’s not that deep. [laughs]
Can we expect a visual?
Oh yeah, for sure. We’re going to have a video. I want it to feel like home, but in LA. That’s the direction of the video: being back home in Detroit, but shooting it in LA. Because now I’m in LA, I don’t want to go back home and do it there because it wouldn’t be authentic to me right now. Right now I’m outside in LA.
What is the key to a hit record?
There’s no real blueprint. The key is don’t over complicate it. It is a formula, but you need to be able to break rules if it feels right. Simplicity, repetition, the stuff you’d think. There’s no key, you have to be fucking good at making music really. You know what’s interesting? A lot of hit records are hit records, and they’re not really good music. It doesn’t matter, that’s the thing that’s funny about it. At the end of the day, it’s out of your hands. You make something and you put it out. The bottom line is if you don’t put it out, who knows if it’ll ever be… it can’t be a hit record if it’s sitting on your computer. The key to a hit record is to put it out. [laughs]
What is your take on the music industry? Do you feel songwriters and producers are being credited enough?
Definitely not, I think all creatives are getting the short end of the stick, especially songwriters and producers. The songwriters get the shortest end of the short stick. It all comes out to pay outs. It comes down to songwriters not getting points on records. Songwriters don’t get fees, unless you’re really poppin’ or you demand it, like I do. There has to be a shift in the way everyone’s paid. The labels are taking all the money. The labels are making more money than they’ve ever made, and no one else is.
Back in the day, if I wrote an album cut on B’Day for example. I wrote track 9. You know how you have a CD back in the day with a bunch of songs, there’s the one song you don’t really give a fuck about? You skip through it 30 seconds in. If I wrote that song, I’d have made a million dollars on it. Probably more. Today, if I write an album cut on Beerbongs & Bentley, if I had an album cut that was 30 million, 50 million streams on Spotify, I’m not really seeing any money off that. It’s not like it used to be. If you don’t have a single, you’re fucked. If you don’t hit the radio, you’re fucked. They gotta figure it out.
Essential items you need in the studio?
Coffee, one. I need my Carti’s [Cartier]. A lot of people know me for my glasses. I have several pairs of Carti’s, it’s like my superhero cape. My costume. If I don’t have them on, I’m Super Man with Kryptonite. I don’t quite have all my superpowers. That’s all I need: coffee and Carti’s. I don’t need anything else honestly.
What do you like doing when you’re not creating music? I know you’re into crypto.
I’m big into crypto. I’m really into investing, both in crypto and stocks. I’m really into video games. I play a disgusting amount of Warzone, I’m very nasty. I like doing TikTok. I like being funny. I like being entertaining, so anyway I can do that.
Talk about your love for crypto & stock. How much have you made?
I’ve been in crypto since 2017. I gained and lost—then made back a small fortune, learned a lot of lessons in that. I’m very bullish on Ethereum, Cardano, and a lot of other coins built on the Ethereum network. I’ve been really into investing for a little while. I’ve been very fortunate and made some good decisions. I encourage everybody to get into investing, it’s super important.
Especially artists in the industry, people that work in music, the music industry is very uncertain. You get large amounts of money at once, then there’s long lulls where you don’t really see money. It’s very important to let your money make money for you. A lot of artists are focused on buying jewelry, which I also buy, don’t get me wrong. I’m buying hella ice too, but you also should be investing your money. Wisely, don’t do whatever you see in a fucking video on YouTube or what your homie tells you. Do you research, be diligent.
Anything else you want to let us know?
I’m coming crazy at the end of the year. I’m dropping an EP, and you can expect a lot of bars. Me talking a lot of shit, a lot of bangers. I’m fortunate to be able to work with the best writers, producers, and artists in the game. Now I get to use all those superpowers on myself. I’m really excited to drop that collection of music for everybody. I’ma be flooding the streets.