They say you never forget your first love and when Mack Wilds first fell in love, he fell hard. “The city is like a beautiful struggle, a place where roses grow through the concrete” the 24-year old singer says of his native New York City; the inspiration for his debut LP New York: A Love Story.
Tristan Paul Mack Wilds is best known for his acting roles as Michael Lee and Dixon Wilson on HBO’s “The Wire” and CW’s “90210” respectively, but before he hit Hollywood, Wilds dreamed of a career in music. “I don’t remember a time in my life when music wasn’t a factor in my life,” the Staten Island product says. “I was immersed in what music was in the ’90s. Everything we heard in hip-hop, I could look outside of my window in the projects and see it going on.”
Growing up, Mack saw his father sing in local bands. He looked to follow in his dad’s footsteps by practicing around their home in Stapleton housing projects, the same housing projects that produced numerous members of Wu-Tang Clan. Wilds’ earliest music influences were Stevie Wonder and Marvin Gaye, but he also took to hip-hop idolizing MCs like Jay-Z and Nas.
At around the age of 13, after puberty hit, Mack noticed his voice began to change and he then added rapping to his repertoire. “The music has always been my first love,” he says, even though his teenage years were spent acting on television and in films like 2008’s “The Secret Life of Bees” with Queen Latifah and Dakota Fanning and in 2012’s “Red Tails” alongside Cuba Gooding, Jr. and Terrence Howard.
“Even with all of the accomplishments, I still feel like I haven’t scratched the surface of where I’m supposed to be,” Mack says.
To further his career and dreams Mack released a free-seven song EP Remember Remember in 2011. The next year he hooked up with Grammy-nominated music producer Salaam Remi and signed with his Sony-distributed Remi Fa record label. Together the two recorded New York: A Love Story, a 1990s hip-hop-centered, R&B-laced tale of love and loss.
The album’s first single “Own It” is produced by Salaam and written by Mack and R&B superstar Ne-Yo. Backed by a kinetic drum track and a feel-good groove “Own It” is reminiscent of a throwback party when hip-hop was fresh, new and exciting. Mack complements the boom-bap with his whispers of sweet nothings to his dream girl, with promises of a lavish life.