To start off 2016, VH1 is taking audiences back to 1990. The cable network is set to air the original movie The Breaks tonight (January 4). The Hip Hop themed film follows the journey of three young New Yorkers as they navigate their way through the music industry.
Tristan Mack Wilds (The Wire, 90210) makes his return to the small screen as a young record producer known as DeeVee. Wilds plays the Fort Greene projects native on the hunt to discover a new talent to help bring his musical vision to fruition.
The Breaks was inspired by Dan Charnas’ 2011 book The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip Hop. Seith Mann (The Wire, The Walking Dead) wrote and directed the movie. The rest of the cast includes Afton Williamson, David Call, Antoine Harris, Wood Harris, and Method Man.
Mack Wilds spoke with AllHipHop.com about his latest acting gig. The creator of 2013’s Grammy-nominated album New York: A Love Story also provides some details about his upcoming sophomore LP, and he recalls his time working with the legendary DJ Premier on the music for The Breaks.
Can you talk about your character in the movie?
My character is named Darryl Van Putten Jr aka DeeVee. He’s a young DJ and producer looking for the right artists to make the legendary music that he wants to make. His dad wants him to go to school and get a regular job, but he drops out of college that his dad has paid for.
He’s going back to his old neighborhood deep in the hood. This is 1990, so it’s still the crack era. It’s gritty and grimy, so he’s going to the end of the Earth – in a metaphorical sense – to make his music exactly how he wants to make it.
Did you go back and do any research about that time for the role?
Absolutely, it’s necessary. No matter what role I do, I think it’s necessary to do research. You never know what kind of information you may miss out on. You can run into anything thinking you’re a know-it-all. So there was immense research and crate digging that I went through.
Was there any real life person you used as inspiration for the character?
I guess the people I used the most for inspiration would be DJ Premier or Pete Rock. I watched tapes of them and read up on them. I even got a little tutelage from both of them to make sure the character was portrayed authentically.
Isn’t Premier working as the music director?
How involved was he on the musical contribution to the movie? Did he provide any music to the soundtrack?
He was all hands in. He scored the movie, so all the music beds that you hear during the different scenes in the movie are Premier tracks. That’s him in the studio getting in making sure everything sounds crisp, clean, and exactly what that time felt like.
Hip Hop themed movies and TV shows became really popular over the last year. Do you think Hollywood has finally embraced the idea the culture’s stories are marketable?
I absolutely think so. Honestly, I don’t think it was too much of a problem before. I’m glad that with shows like Power or Empire it leaves room for all of our stories to be told, whether it’s something like The Breaks or anything else on the rise. It’s amazing.
I always felt like The Wire had a Hip Hop sensibility to it. I found it interesting how The Breaks kind of feels like a mini-reunion. There are several people from The Wire in the movie – you, Wood Harris, and Method Man. Even the director Seith Mann worked on The Wire. It was kind of a throwback to the series.
It was. I think it made the set that much more comfortable. When you have people that you’ve worked with for so long around you, it feels good. You don’t have to be nervous about anything. It was great.
You’ve dropped a couple of freestyles over the last few months. Is there another album in the works?
We’re working on the album now. We’re actually almost finished. We’re trying to push for somewhere in the first quarter to drop it for the people.
Is Salaam [Remi] doing most of the production again?
He looks out and makes sure the music sounds as A-1 as possible, but I think for this album he’s letting me venture out a little more, meet with different producers, and gather the sound I love the most. He’s really dope in that sense.
Since the Adele video came out, what has been the impact for you? Have you been able to connect with a different fan base?
I think I’ve been able to connect with more of a fan base on social media. I don’t really leave the house that much. I stay in the shadows, so I wouldn’t know what it’s like on the outside that much. [laughs]
With this role in The Breaks, is there any interest in going back to TV for a regular series role?
You never know. I missed acting so much. Taking a year off and then coming back made me realize how much I missed it. Who knows what’s in the cards. It could be another movie. It could be another series regular role. Just wait and see, it’s going to be an interesting 2016.
[ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Mack Wilds Discusses Remaking A Michael Jackson Classic & Weird “The Wire” Stalkers]
The Breaks premieres Monday, January 4th at 9 PM ET on VH1.
Follow The Breaks on Twitter @TheBreaksVH1.
Watch the trailer for The Breaks below.