By Paul de Revere

Get the 24-year-old New York rapper Mack Wilds talking about his music and he’ll likely throw the word “cadence” at you, an essential concept for someone that traffics in the sung, recited, rapped and spoken word like Wilds does. In 30 minutes, he’ll drop it no fewer than three times, repeating it almost like a mantra.

“With everything that you do, with every word that you speak, with every way that you move, there’s a cadence and there’s rhythm to it,” Wilds told

You may know Mack Wilds by his acting name, Tristan, speaking in actor’s—not rapper’s—rhythms in film, television and on stage. Wilds has played supporting roles in Red Tails, The Secret Life of Bees and The CW’s Beverly Hills: 90210  spinoff. The role he’s best known for though is Michael Lee, the quiet, brave teenage protagonist in seasons four and five of The Wire. From the ages of 16 to 18, Wilds showed a depth of performance beyond his years, gaining critical notoriety in the worlds of drama and hip-hop. His debut even earned him a GRAMMY nomination for Best Urban Contemporary Album putting him up against the likes of Tamar Braxton, FantasiaRihanna and his own producer, Salaam Remi.

“Although the players change [The Wire], the game remains the same,” Wilds said, summarizing the moral of the acclaimed HBO drama. “It’s still those archetypes that create what you see every day.”

Wilds’ Grammy-nominated New York: A Love Story  hints a similar depth of street poetry. And if his debut is at all akin to The Wire, it’s in both their nuanced portraits of urban life. But where The Wire could be harsh and starkly realistic, New York: A Love Story it is a double love letter: for his hometown and an unnamed female love interest, their flirtatious phone conversations dramatized in skits throughout the record.

Read more about Mack Wilds on


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