Many Central Florida hip-hop fans will flock to the CFE Arena on Oct. 3 to see popular rap artist Future hit the stage. However, it may come as a surprise that the opening act, Derrick Milano, isn't much different than the students who frequent campus.
In fact, Milano plans to transfer to UCF from Valencia College in January through the DirectConnect program upon completing his associate's degree. Milano was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania but raised in Delaware, and is excited to cross another venue off his list of goals.
The Central Florida Future caught up with the "That Ain't Ya Chick" rapper to preview the upcoming show.
CFF: Opening for Future is a pretty big opportunity for you, how exactly did that come about?
I recently opened up for Young Thug at Firestone, and I was the headlining opener, and I have a record out right now that's called "That Ain't Ya Chick." People have been hearing it; it's been on the radio. I think it has 87,000 downloads now. When I performed it at the Young Thug show, one of the promoters for the Future show was there. He witnessed the crowd that I brought out and the reactions, and he did the research on who I was and checked out my following on Instagram and Twitter and he hit me up and said, "We're bringing Future to the CFE Arena and we're interested in you being the headlining opener." I thought it was a scam at first, I'm not going to lie, because people come up to me saying all kinds of stuff. I did my research and we went over the paperwork, and I saw it was real and it just kind of happened. It was definitely dope.
CFF: You have quite the following on social media. How did you build that fan base?
Milano: I had this one song back when I was back home up north, and it was just some kind of Wiz Khalifa type of track. Juicy J had tweeted me and was like "Yo let's smoke, come join the trippy life." It was kind of like "I heard the song, it's dope, let's smoke." That was when he was on his rise, and he dropped a mixtape. I'm not a Juicy J fan 100 percent. I like his music now, but I didn't like it at first. So I got a lot of followers from that because a lot of people thought I was like the new signee to Taylor Gang, but it wasn't even like that.
I am just a marketing person; I like to network myself. I have wristbands, CDs and stickers. When I go out and meet people I'm the type of person that is telling them to check out my website. When I was doing the hosting, I would travel to different areas or I'd be in the club and I would bring it up all the time. And then just being around the different parties, they would put the [social media handles] on the flier. And then when I put out my recent record, it was Vine-known. Everybody on Vine was posting my song with them doing a skit. When they would mention me, they would come to Twitter and people would ask me what the song was called. The followers just kept going up from there. It happened over time.
CFF: When did you realize that music was going to be a big part of your future?
Milano: I'm a singer as well. I did All-State, we had this thing called "Academy Singers" at the school that I was at. It was basically for seventh and eighth graders. I actually auditioned in the sixth grade because my music teacher took an interest in my voice. I actually passed the audition. I had all the solos for that. I knew I had to take it seriously. I started auditioning for different things — the All-State choir for five years in a row, I placed second in the state as a tenor and I was still doing my music on the side because I rap as well.
I kind of incorporated everything together because my passion has always been music. If you ask my mom, she'll tell you. I would come home, do my homework and I had my own little studio that I built that everybody had in their closet. I would just work every day. It wasn't the best quality of music, but it showed my mom that I was driven to try and make it.
CFF: Where do you draw inspiration from?
Milano: Really just life experiences and things that I go through. It's just like funny situations that my friends and I laugh about. Like the song I have out right now is just a funny situation where this girl was talking to me, but she had a boyfriend. So it was just like, "How are you going to talk to me, when you have a boyfriend?" The boyfriend got mad at me and made the issue on Twitter and all of this other stuff. Me and my friends were just sitting around and it was just like, "That's not your chick." Then we realized it would be catchy for a song because everybody can relate to it.
CFF: What do you think that moment is going to be like for you when you walk on the stage at the CFE Arena?
Milano: It's definitely going to be exciting because I set goals for myself. My goal was to come out here and to get into the clubs. I've performed at Vain, Tier, Beacham, Firestone, and the UCF Arena, the Amway Center and the House of Blues are the only places that I haven't been yet. I'm just proud of myself to come out here and really market my goals and target my goals so that I can cross them off. I think it's going to be really exciting because it's going to show me the next step and it is going to be like in the future.
CFF: What's next for you?
Milano: I have some management contracts. What we're starting to work on is my next project. We're supposed to be getting the visuals for the music video that I have. I have a couple of other music videos I have that will be coming out, and a couple of other songs that I am on as well. Right now, we're starting to handle the marketing campaign, when it comes down to fliers, more stickers, Internet promotion, traveling, T-shirts and really getting out there and having movement. That's the next step from that aspect. My 21st birthday is on Dec. 24, and I am going to be dropping my mixtape. I'm not going to say the name, but it's pretty cool. And I am trying to get DJ Drama to host it. I'm trying to target the industry and I want to drop something that people will remember.