Mack Wilds was about five years old when Craig Mack dropped his “Flava in Ya Ear (Remix)” music video in 1994. The classic clip featured Craig, the Notorious B.I.G., LL Cool J, Busta Rhymes, Rampage and Diddy rapping against a simple white backdrop. Even though Wilds was just a boy, the image had a lasting effect on the singer.
Now, 20 years later, Wilds is using “Flavor in Ya Ear” as inspiration for his upcoming “Henny (Remix)” video with French Montana, Busta Rhymes and Mobb Deep. “I remember being a kid watching that video and being like, ’That’s what hip-hop looks like,’ ” Mack told MTV News on Tuesday when we visited the set.
The original version of “Henny” appeared on Mack’s Grammy-nominated LP New York: A Love Story and sampled the beat from Mobb Deep’s classic 2001 single “The Learning (Burn).” Wilds put an R&B twist on the rap gem and won big, so for the remix he decided to add an all-star cast of MCs.
“From French to Mobb to Busta, it all just came together real naturally,” Wilds told us.
Prodigy from Mobb Deep laid an unforgettable verse on the original “The Learning,” focusing his energy on an old rap feud with Jay Z, but hearing Mack’s “Henny” piqued his interest and encouraged him to write something light-hearted to the familiar beat.
“When I heard what Mack did to it, it just inspired me to be like, ’Alright, let’s turn this into something new,’ ” Pee said. “It’s one of those songs that you put on in the middle of the night in the club. Let everybody get nice and get some drinks in their system and you throw this record on.”
Getting Mobb Deep on the new track was a no-brainer, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find a rapper hotter than French Montana at the moment. With most of the lineup already in place, Mack says Busta approached him about the collaboration. “Busta came up to me in the club one day and was like, ’Yo, I don’t care who’s on it, I’m on this record,’ ” Wilds recalled, using his best Busta Rhymes impression.
It also doesn’t hurt that Bus was in the original “Flava in Ya Ear” video. Just as he did 20 years ago, the Dungeon Dragon trucked around for the car, offering animated facial expressions and exciting rap growls. It’s all a testament to Mack’s vision.
“This the first n—a to really put the city on his back,” Busta said of Mack. “Not from a rapper’s perspective, even though the homey could rap too, but from an R&B perspective and a real music perspective.”