Interview: Mack Wilds on Staten Island Artist Having Something to Prove and More

mack-wildsMack Wilds (aka Tristan Wilds) has come along way from when he arrived on the scene as Michael Lee in HBO’s The Wire, and has appeared in four films including Red Tails, and four television series including 90210. Now at age 24, Mack who first ventured into the music scene back in 2011 with his Remember Remember EP, has made his returned this focus to music after focusing on his film career for nearly two years after the release of Remember Remember. Mack’s new single off his upcoming debut New York: A Love Story which was co-written by Ne-Yo has already started creating buzz and anticipation for the album. Mack chatted with us about the single, being apart of Salaam Remi’s Louder Than Life, label imprint and more

NNG: Hey Mack, thanks for chatting with us today. When we hear about New York based artist so many people automatically think about artist representing boroughs like Brooklyn, Queens, The Bronx and Harlem, yet you represent state Island, a borough which is not often thought about when we think of hip hop. What do you think is specifically different and unique about artist representing Staten Island when compared to artist representing other boroughs in the city?

MW: You know I feel like artist from Staten Island, personally I feel like we have a point to prove, so it’s kind of extra hard for us. Not even just extra hard, but we have to work two times as hard just to be noticed. With artist such as Wu-Tang Clan making the strides that they’ve made, we have really big footsteps to I guess follow, or to come behind. So to even be acknowledged without necessarily having the Wu-Tang stamp behind you, you need to work four times harder.

NNG:So now OWN It is the lead single off of your upcoming album New York: A Love Story, in which Ne-Yo, co-wrote the single with you. What were some challenges you came across in writing your verse in the song?

MW:Of course, it’s trying to come behind someone as prolific and just amazing. He’s just an amazing writer as Ne-Yo. You’re gonna come to some type of obstacles. You know you wanna make sure that the verse is as good as his. So it definitely was a lot of trial and error with me, and Salaam [Remi] just being in there hyping it up, and just trying to make it feel good as much as Ne-Yo’s verse had felt. So it took time, as any great thing does. At the end of the day it really came together. I feel like all of us together we knocked it out the park.

NNG: So now if you were to make a remix of Own It, who would you want to include on it?

MW:Ah man honestly I couldn’t say. I think it’s such a track with such a dope feeling behind it that I would like to see for lack of a better term who has the balls to jump on it. I would want to see who could really just kill it, just own it.

NNG: Now with the video for OWN It which you shot in New York, the art graffiti imagery really stood out in the video, what was the significance of featuring the graffiti artistry that heavily in the video?

MW:It’s basically to pay homage to the time the music is referencing. It’s not necessarily the 90’s or the 80’s. I think it’s moreso the golden age of hip hop, the New York sound. I grew up around that. My uncle was a Five City King, which means he was known in every borough, my uncle Gano. Just seeing that my whole life and growing up in the same neighborhood as a Wu-Tang and being such a hip hop head, it was only right to pay homage to what I feel birthed the sound of my music.

NNG: From the video it is definitely clear that you have a love for art, especially eighties art, also I recall you revealed you like the art of Basquiat. Interestingly most recently there has been a slight resurgence in interest in Basquiat due to Jay-Z making reference to him in new tracks off his recent Magna Carta like Picasso Baby. How do you feel about Jay and other artist referencing artist like Basquiat in their music, and music videos?

MW:I think it was amazing. I love that something as home grown as hip hop or rap or rap as a whole has gotten to a place where we’re referencing fine art pieces, or just different artistry, has become commonplace. We’re definitely getting to a different place of not only music, but of enlightenment as we grow as a generation.

NNG: I want to talk a little bit about you being signed to Salaam Remi’s label imprint Louder than Life. Now we are always hearing about artist being offered 360 deals by labels to sign with them. How do you feel about such a deal, with you being a new artist?

MW:I guess I understand it. Seeing how the industry is now and how much they put out versus how much they get back. You know back in the days maybe ten maybe even fifteen years ago the industry was in a completely different place, to where the money they get back they were definitely making back no matter what, no matter if it was a single they were putting out or a entire album. But now with how viral everything and how the internet has changed the face of music, I guess I understand where they’re coming from. As an artist do I like it, it is what it is but coming from a business standpoint I understand it.

NNG: Do you think you will ever take on a larger role beyond just songwriter and artist at Louder than Life?

MW: You know who can predict the future. As of right now, I’m just gonna focus on the thing that I love and that’s creating. If there comes a time, the time is for me to help in creating and helping other artists I’ll take it in stride. But as for right now main thing the focus is the music.

NNG: Is there anything else you would like to add?

MW: Yea man just get the album it’s called New York: A Love Story. It comes out September 17th.

Check out the video to OWN IT below, and be sure to purchase and download on iTunes

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