Named after the protagonist in Brazilian crime epic City of God, Gué Pequeno has been an instrumental figure in the success of Italian hip-hop culture's two biggest collectives. Born Cosimo Fini, he started out in urban crew Le Sacre Scuole before joining two of its members, Jake La Furia and Joe Dan, to form Club Dogo, and later the 17-member-strong outfit Dogo Gang. With eight official releases in five years between them, the two acts became the dominant force on Italy's rap scene. Like most of his bandmates, Pequeno still found time to pursue other projects. He teamed up with producer Deleterio for the Hashishinz Sound, Vol. 1 compilation, and DJ Harsh for two Fastlife Mixtapes, wrote a book with La Furia entitled La Legge del Cane, and co-hosted the Un Giorno Da Cani show on Radio Deejay before unleashing his Top Five debut solo album, Il Ragazzo D'oro, in 2011.
Two years later, his second album, Bravo Ragazzo, did even better on the Italian charts, eventually reaching platinum status thanks in part to three Top Ten singles: "Business," "Rose Nere," and the title track. (And despite the success, he continued to keep his schedule very busy, performing with Club Dogo on two best-selling albums, Noi Siamo il Club in 2012 and Non Siamo Più Quelli Di Mi Fist in 2014.) Pequeno promptly signed to Def Jam, one of the most prestigious labels in rap music, for 2015's Vero, and watched the album hit the top of the Italian charts. One year later, Santeria, a collaboration LP with Marracash, spent three weeks at number one in Italy; it was led by the Top 20 single "Nulla Accade." The pair also released an accompanying mixtape, Double Dragon. ~ Jon O'Brien