Listen up: The Kid Daytona (Flash, Oct/Nov ’08) is one of NYC’s best unsigned rappers. We would say to give this dude a record deal, but he seems to be doing just fine on his own. Hailing from the Bronx, the Cipha Sounds protégé turned heads with his mixtape A Tribe Called Fresh, which reinvented seminal Tribe cuts with a clever, obsessive and laugh-out-loud hilarious attention to detail. Daytona spoke with GIANT about style, swagger and why he’s not into the Olsen Twins.
GIANT: How did growing up in the Bronx shape you as an artist?
Around the time when I grew up, you went through eras. The David Dinkins era was really fucked up. A lot of crime was happening. Giuliani came and shaped things up. Back then the slogan was “Fuck Giuliani” because all the hustlers, it was harder for them to do what they was doing. But in all reality, he shaped everything up. I came up in my high school years in the South Bronx. I went to a catholic school. But it was like a catholic school in the ’hood. You dealt with all the same negativities. Single-parent homes, my boy’s mom used to be working, and we’d go in his crib and do all sorts of crazy shit. You ever seen that movie Kids? Imagine being like sixteen years old. Yeah. It was crazy. Then you have to pick which way you’re gonna go. I come from a good family, so my grades always had to always be on point. My friends, they were doing they thing. I fucked around, but I always made sure I was straight. I knew where I was going. Most of my friends I grew up with, honestly, the majority of them are in jail. They never finished high school, none of that stuff. I come back around the way, and I chill, and it fells kinda weird sometimes because they look at me like I’m on the radio, but in all reality, I’m still trying to make it, too.
How did you get into performing?
In high school, we used to battle. I came up with Jae Millz, JR Writer. We’re all kids battling each other, listening to each other. We came up around each other. That’s basically how I got my whole swag in performing and stuff like that, from performing early on.
You’re look is very put-together. How important is that to you?
It’s important, but it makes me late.
There are a whole bunch of mirrors in my crib. Before I go to sleep, I try to say, “OK, I’m gonna wear this tomorrow.” But sometimes you put that on and it don’t really look right. Then you gotta change.
How would you describe your style?
I never want to follow anybody else in what they’re doing. I always want to look like an individual. Right now, I’ve got high-top Guccis on and a Versace button-up shirt, but like rolled up, just to look different. When I’m walking down the street, you know it’s Daytona.
Is there anyone you admire for style cues?
I like the way Kanye dresses, Pharrell. If you look at it, them two start trends. You see kids in the ’hood wearing fuckin’ tight pants and skateboarding, and you see kids wearing scarves in the summer time. You just look at what they’re doing, and kids try to emulate that.
In one of your tracks, you say, “You can have on all the fly gear. / But it’s all about how you wear it.” What do you mean by that?
You look fly. But if I put that shirt on, I probably wouldn’t look hot. If we switched outfits, we probably wouldn’t look right. How are you wearing it? It’s you. You bring out the clothes. You could have on $5000 worth of clothes and still look wack.
What’s your hustle like right now?
I never really realized how powerful the Internet was until we put out this [A Tribe Called Fresh] tape. Before, when I was younger, I was like, “I want to get a deal tomorrow. I shoulda got a deal yesterday.” But right now, I’m gaining fans without that. When I come, my album is gonna be done, and we’re gonna put it out, and all they gotta do is distribute it. I’m not thirsty for a deal right now. Whenever it comes is when it’s gonna come, and it has to be the right deal.
Do you have an album in the works?
Yeah. I already got a bunch of people on it. I did a joint with Travis from Gym Class Heroes. He heard the tape and actually reached out to Cipha Sounds like, “Yo, I wanna work with this kid.” So we put that together. I got a joint with Busta that’s crazy. It’s actually Cassie and Busta. Crazy, crazy, crazy. So there’s a lot of things in the works right now. All the people that fit my mode are all the people I want to work with.
Where does your income come from right now?
Mixtapes is free. I got my own hustles. It’s New York City. You can get money. I just get money being me. What I do right now is basically, I’ve always had girls, so it’s like, “Alright, you got girls and we need somebody to fill this table.” We go and they give us bottles, and we just have chicks around us, and they pay us for it. It’s like, “Fuck it. Why not? I’m not starving for nothing.
What can a major offer you that you couldn’t do on your own?
Basically, a major label can just market you and get you out there. They have that money to put your face everywhere. The Internet is cool. You can get so far just being on the net, but when you’re constantly in somebody’s face and on the radio… Politics is crazy. Some of these kids is big on the Internet, and you never heard them on the radio. Not everybody knows about blogs and underground stuff. You gotta search for that. The major helps you just take it there. That extra step.
Where would you want to go right now?
Right now, it’s just so crazy. Like I said, it just has to be the right situation. Everything is wack right now. Even through Busta, Interscope was dope two years ago. And now look at what’s happening. Everybody’s complaining. I don’t understand the game. I don’t understand how some of these people get jobs. It’s like, what are you really doing? Ciph always says, “I wish you were older and you came in the game in like ’97. You would be poppin’ right now.” But I was born when I was born and this is what it is.
I’ve heard you name-check the Olsen Twins more than once. What’s up with that?
That was around the time when I used to see them a lot in the clubs. I always wondered why people thought they were hot because they looked wack in person. Like for real. They’re like four-eight, no ass, nothing. I just didn’t understand.
What’s something I don’t know about the Kid Daytona?
I’m into all nationalities of women, right? But I have a curly-hair fetish. That means you can be any skin complexion, just as long as you have the ability to grow curly hair, I’m with it all day.