‘Wire’ Actor Tray Chaney Drops His First Mixtape

'I been surrounded by hip-hop all my life,' he tells Mixtape Daily.

Celebrity Favorites: Tray Chaney

During the heyday of “The Wire,” when the Baltimore-based HBO series earned critical praise and fan love (but no hardware from the Emmys?!?), Tray Chaney, who played the character Poot, could barely take a trip anywhere without being recognized.

Now that the gritty urban drama is re-airing on DirecTV, it’s as if things never changed. Case in point: While visiting the MTV News offices, Chaney was stopped in his tracks by Busta Rhymes, who shared his appreciation for the Washington, D.C., native.

“At the time, we didn’t really know how big the show would eventually become,” Chaney told Mixtape Daily. “We had an idea that it was big. But how big, nah, no one could really tell. And now, for us to have a new generation of fans recognizing us and stopping us about things that happened in season one, it’s great.”

Since Chaney’s departure from the show, he’s ventured into other arenas of entertainment, mainly writing and rapping. He co-wrote and self-published an autobiographical book called “The Truth You Can’t Betray” with Yolanda D. Coleman, and he released a video for his track “Dilemma,” which featured Dru Hill crooner Jazz.

The multimedia plan of attack was always in the cards for the actor, who just this week put out his first mixtape, appropriately titled Jack of all Trays.

“I started in this business at the age of 8 years old [as a dancer who appeared on 'Showtime at the Apollo'], and I been surrounded by hip-hop all my life,” he explained. “And I always did hip-hop music, but I never got a chance to showcase it, because my schedule was so busy with acting and ‘The Wire’ and doing other things as far as the acting world. I just wanted to showcase the ability of Tray Chaney to have the potential to make a hit song. When I started out a couple years ago, I was like, ‘I’m gonna get in the studio and do a couple of records.’ ”

After the reception to “Dilemma” was mostly positive, Chaney put together his own team, Fire Drop Music, and put in motion his plans to release a project. So far, he has three songs on iTunes: “Make This Money,” “Watch, Learn, Listen,” and “Money in My Walk.” He’s still trying to get a gauge on fans’ reactions to his music, but according to Chaney, everything has been positive.

“Things are going well, and I don’t know if it’s people are like, ‘Yo, it’s dude from “The Wire,” ‘ ” he admitted. “But with all the e-mails and comments I get on the records, I’m not trying to jinx myself, but there hasn’t been a bad comment.”

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