Actor-turned-singer Tristan 'Mack' Wilds talks debut album and advice from Jay-Z

theGRIO REPORT - From the movie screen to the recording booth, Tristan Wilds is now re-introducing himself as singer ‘Mack Wilds’...

Luther Vandross was outed as gay after his death.

Actor Tristan Wilds, made his debut back in 2005 starring in the Spike Lee production, Miracle Boys

From there, the now 23-year-old actor was cast in two critically acclaimed television series, The Wire and Beverly Hills 90210, before finally transitioned to the big screen with the drama The Secret Life of Bees and period piece Red Tails. Needless to say, Wilds profile is on the rise.

From the movie screen to the recording booth, Wilds is now re-introducing himself as singer ‘Mack Wilds’. The New York native is ready to show a more personal and vulnerable side of himself through his music.

Music is my passion

“Music has always come first for me. Growing up in the Staten Island projects, I view the music industry like the streets or the drug game. You got to get in and get it,” Wilds told theGrio at Sony records in New York City.

After signing with music producer, Salaam Remi, whose catalog includes Nas and Amy Winehouse, Mack caught the attention of Grammy award winning artist, Ne-Yo, who collaborated on his latest single, “Own It.

“When I was working with Salaam back in December, Ne-Yo had already written the first verse to that song and a chorus to the skeleton of the beat that you hear today,” shares the former 90210 star.

“Salaam threw it at me to test me on how well I can sing. I knocked it out of the park and when Ne-Yo heard it, I received his blessings to write the rest.”

Advice from “Uncle Jay”

Supported by iconic industry figures, Wilds is no novice to working with top tier musicians.

As an actor, he’s appeared in music videos for Wale, Alicia Keys and Lil Wayne. His spotlight grew brighter after his featured cameo in Jay-Z’s, “Roc Boys” video in 2008.

Wilds has a special relationship with the Magna Carta rapper, whom he refers to as “Uncle Jay”.

“We are extremely close. I hit Jay up for advice often, and he always has amazing one-liners that just stick,” admits the singer.

During a private New York listening session, the actor-turned-singer is belting out vocals comparable to the R&B elites that are on the top 40.

Bringing his own unique flare and rawness to the music industry, his self-debut album entitled; New York: A Love Story (slated to be released this fall) presents melodic soul music combined with hypnotic hip-hop beats. The album has guest features from emcees, Method Man and Raekwon of Wu-Tang Clan fame, along with collaborative tracks from singer-songwriter, Rico Love and Ne-Yo.

Man on a mission

The crooning heartthrob has one main mission; to revive and save the sound of New York City.

“I miss the sound of New York and what it felt like, especially in the summer time. Fire hydrants opened, being on the fire escape, walking down the block and seeing everybody out, we kept that idea and used that emotion to fuel the whole album,” confesses the singer.

Check out his newest single off of the debut album, “Own It” below:

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Nicole Breeden is a young journalist reporting on current news in entertainment, beauty trends, lifestyle and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @coca_colee and hear her voice at