Mack Wilds on Reppin’ NYC on His Debut Album and Why ‘The Wire’ Will Never Become a Movie

Tristan Wilds in New York City, July 2013. Photo; Rob Kim/Getty Images

From playing a terrifying drug dealer on The Wire to a tween heartthrob on 90210, Tristan Wilds is a proven chameleon. Now, he’s trading in acting for R&B and preparing his first album (under the nom de guerre “Mack Wilds”) with revered producer Salaam Remi. The charming Mack spoke with Hive about his career transition, the ending of The Wire and the inevitable Drake comparisons.

I was surprised that your stage name “Mack” is actually a part of your government name. I sort of wish it was inspired by Mark Morrison’s “Return of The Mack.”

That’s a pretty great song. Honestly, for me, it’s so funny. A lot of my friends used to joke with me about that. They would sing the song when I came around.

Next time you see Mark Morrison, you should punch him in the face for that.

If I hit him, I’d have to hit Usher too. Remember, his very first song was “Call Me a Mack”? I can’t hit Usher; he’d hit me back. He has a lot of muscles.

Absolutely. You have a slew of vintage NY hip-hop collaborators on your album from Raekwon and Havoc to Method Man and Pete Rock. Being that you’re only 24, what’s with the nostalgia?

I think it was intentional. It was to showcase the original sound of New York. That’s the sound of New York that I remember, that I love the most. Being a New Yorker, that’s the way our hearts beats. That boom bap? That rhythm flows through our veins. To be in time where there’s a bunch of New York kids who never seen anything that sounds like us or looks like us on television, that’s kind of disappointing. Either we have to reach elsewhere for our New York sounds or we have to get New York rappers who sound like they’re from elsewhere. There hasn’t been anything that’s been authentic to our sound.

Your fans run the gamut from The Wire junkies to 90210 tweens. Who is your audience for your music? Do you worry about alienating your acting fans?

I didn’t even think about it. When me and Salaam started planning the album, it was more so, let’s make something that feels good to us and where we come from. When we were in L.A., we would always talk about things we would miss from New York, like how no one in L.A. knows what duck sauce is or um, how you can’t even get on a train in L.A.

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