On December 6th, The Kid Daytona introduced a world of quality underground hip-hop from New York to partygoers at the Canopy Club for #SaveChampaign. The concert reached it’s climax when the Bronx emcee rocked the stage, delivering his smooth rap songs over beats by the likes of Harry Fraud, Chuck Inglish, 9th Wonder, and more. After his set, Daytona went into the crowd to show love and later invited UPC to kick it with him in the greenroom to answer some of our questions.

UPC: Being from the Bronx, who were some of your biggest inspirations out of New York?

Daytona: Just being from the Bronx, I got to see a lot. I definitely saw Big Pun roll through on the Grand Concourse, which is a block that I grew up on; [he] rolled through in a coupe, and it was supposed to be a two-seater, but he had it custom made as a one-seater. So he had a big ass seat, with the steering wheel in the middle of the coupe, driving through the concourse, just him in the fuckin’ car, shit looked crazy; mad jewelry. [He stopped] at the light, and everybody was like, “Yo, that’s Pun!” I was like, “That’s crazy,” that’s the type of shit that [inspired me].

As a little, little kid? Seeing Nice & Smooth, I don’t know if ya’ll familiar with them, Greg Nice and Smooth B were definitely pioneers of the rap game. And seeing Smooth B go through that routine at 5 years old, like being a kid, going to the numbers spot with my grandma, and seeing Greg Nice and Smooth B roll through and just kicking their routine. That’s something that I’ll never forget because when they blew up it was like, “Oh that’s those kids that I seen just randomly rapping out loud.” That’s like grassroots type of stuff, so being from the Bronx I was always influenced by hip-hop because that’s where they say it started. Shout out Kool Herc and all that.

UPC: How did you get started rapping and when did that happen?

Daytona: Shout out to Loaded Lux; I went to high school with Loaded Lux and we were actually a group, so everybody who’s familiar with Loaded Lux, he’s a battle cat, “You gon’ get this work!” That’s Loaded Lux, that’s my boy. Early on, Lux was rapping, and I was just a cat who always had the chicks; that’s all I cared about in high school, that’s what we were doing. He was like, “You got mad game talking to these joints, you probably would be ill at being a rapper.” So I just started writing my rhymes. I never wanted to be the nicest or the illest at that time.

Then one time Lord Tariq, from Lord Tariq and Peter Gunz, was outside of my block and he was just rapping. This was at the height of their fame and popularity, so me at 14 years old, they’re like, “Lord Tariq out here rhyming, you should just come down and hear it.” He was just rapping, there wasn’t nobody else [rapping]. It was a big cypher, 60, 70 people outside on the street and he was rapping. I came in, skinny kid, I was probably like 135 pounds, skinny neck, big head. Came in, “Yo!” I kicked a 16, then he came rapped at me, then I probably spit like a 30, and we kept going back and forth. But this is a superstar who’s got platinum records, songs with Mariah Carey and all that, and me, coming outside of my building in a tournament shirt. For ya’ll that don’t know, tournament shirts, that’s in the summer time when you’re playing ball, you got tournament shirts, we used to collect those. He was like, “Keep it going shorty, I really think one day you’re going to do your thing.” And to this day I got wild respect for Lord Tariq, forever.

UPC: Is that when you decided rap was a career you wanted to pursue?

Daytona: Yeah, because that’s when I knew I wasn’t whack. (laughing)

UPC:  So I had read a while back that you and Travie from Gym Class Heroes were supposed to do a collaborative project together.

Daytona:  Yeah, we’re doing the album. Shout out to Travie, that’s my big brother for real. We got like 4 songs in. After this Christmas, New Years break, I’m probably going to move into his crib for two weeks and we’re just going to finish the whole album. Travie is a dude that was a early believer in me, before anybody really ever heard of me. Cypha Sounds from Hot 97 introduced him to me, this was like ’08. So as I started progressing and being outside in the New York City nightlife, I was at a table and Travie came and he sat next to me. He was like, “Daytona, I just seen you on 106 & Park, I see you on the blogs, what’s up? We need to chill, I’m going to be here in New York for a minute.”

This was like early summer time, right before I went to Europe, and we chilled every single day for 3 weeks straight. From then, we did one record, and then he was like, “We just need to make this shit an album.” Then I go look on Twitter and he’s got three million followers, he’s living a crazy life, dating movie stars and shit like that. I’m like, “That’s where I want to be Trav, you know what I mean?” (laughing) I can’t say much more about him, he’s just a great dude. Look forward to that, it’s called Gypsy Cab Confessions and it’s coming out real soon.

UPC: Sometime in 2013?

Daytona: Yessir.

UPC: So you’ve worked with legends like 9th Wonder, Rockwilder, and you’ve also worked with up and coming producers like Harry Fraud and Thelonius Martin from Chicago.

Daytona: And Million Dollar Mano, from Chicago.

UPC: You worked with Mano?

Daytona: Hell yeah, Treated, that’s my brother.

UPC: Damn, I got to check that out. I was wondering, who are some other producers you are looking to create with?

Daytona: Me and Cardo been linking up recently, like the past two weeks, we started doing joints together. I don’t really focus too much on names. I know people that’s proven; shout out my big brother, uncle, whatever you want to call him, Bink!, from Virginia. He’s got Grammys on his wall, he’s worked with Kanye West, Jay-Z, Rick Ross, you name it. Bink! is a legend, and that’s somebody who took me under his wing early on and showed me how to really start making records. Other than that, if you got heat, I want to work with you, it don’t matter what your name is.

UPC: You’ve also featured Bun-B and Jadakiss on your records, so again, those are some legends in the rap game. Is there any other emcees that you’re hoping to work with?

Daytona: Me and Curren$y have been talking about working for a long time, we’re going to get that popping. As far as new cats, my ears and eyes are always open to everything that’s going on, I don’t discriminate against nothing. I’ll listen to anybody, from like Lil Durk to Action Bronson. It’s that range, I just listen to people who got talent in different ways. You could be lyrical, you could have melodies, you could have swag; whatever you want to call it, I pay attention to all of that and I don’t take any of it for granted. I want to work with anybody who is a genuine person, because any collab that I’ve ever had, they always respected what I did. Like when I reached out to Bun-B and Jada, it was like, “No problem.” It was just always love and they respect what I did so, as long as it’s a mutual respect thing, I always want to work what whatever, or whoever.

UPC: In an era where there’s a lot of underground rappers trying to strive for commercial success, what do you bring to the table that separates you from those other rappers?

Daytona: Real talk, I could just say I bring me to the table. Just even in New York, I do a lot of things. You could ask anybody, from Bronson to DZA, and they’ll tell you what I do and who I do it with. Anything you hear in my raps is nothing fugazi or fake shit. I feel like people can see through whether [or not] you have some fraudulent in you. I just bring me to the table and that’s all I can give. As long as the people see that I’m a genuine person and they really, really mess with the music like that, there’s no telling [what could happen]. I got legends, like you said, working with me and wanting to work with me, so I know sooner or later it’s going to break through and be mainstream without me having to sacrifice who I really am.

UPC:  In your opinion, what needs to change about the music industry so that emcees, such as yourself, can have a wider audience?

Daytona: That’s a ill question, nobody’s ever asked me that before. Just with the music industry, there’s a lot of politics man. I know you’ve probably heard it before, but it’s really real. To really make it in the game, first of all, you have to love it. You can’t just be like “Imma get rich at being a rapper,” that’s not what it’s about. You’ve got to love the culture as a whole. Number two, the financial support and the team. If you ever see an artist blow, it’s not just him, it’s always a team around him. And for me, as far as wanting it to change, I can’t be that optimistic and even think about that, I just got to work hard and keep the movement going. I’m going to breakthrough regardless.

UPC: What’s the track or project you’re most proud of to date?

Daytona: Probably would be the “Low” record with Jadakiss, produced by Harry Fraud. Just cause Jadakiss was somebody who I could remember listening to in 6th and 7th grade. It was weird how it even worked out, because I did the record first. Peter Rosenberg was playing it on Hot 97.  Jadakiss hit Peter like, “What’s that record Harry Fraud did with that kid spittin’ over it?” Peter sent him the instrumental, next I thing I know, I had a 16 from Jadakiss. I restructured the song and made it into a real record. I put it out, then he hit me on Twitter, on direct message like, “We need to shoot this video, what’s good?” I felt pressure, calling Jamal [my manager] like, “J we need to get this vid poppin, what’s good?” Then we got sponsors involved, shout out to Grey Goose and Creative Recreation. It was a good time.

UPC: You just dropped the Lost Luggage EP, what’s coming up next?

Daytona: We got Gypsy Cab Confessions, me and Travie McCoy from Gym Class Heroes, that’s about to be finished at the top of the year. We’re just working on a lot of heat man. I got a lot of records that we’ve been working on, a lot of dope stuff that is going to surprise a lot of people and I’ll just leave it at that. Just look out for Gypsy Cab Confessions.

Below, check out the video for “Low,” and look out for Peter Rosenberg’s role in the video, which pretty much embodies the response he gave us above. Thanks to Daytona and Jamal for the opportunity.