Most of you know Tristan Wilds from his run as Michael from The Wire. Others may know him from his run on the latest incarnation of 90210. Either way, the Staten Island product has talent. What you may not know is that those talents extend to the music world. His first full length foray, under the moniker Mack Wilds is New York: A Love Story.
The album combines Wilds’ singing/rhyming with 90s Hip-Hop derived production. Although Wilds sings more than he rhymes, the album trends closer to the Hip-Hop side than R&B. New York: A Love Story plays like a score to a rap movie and perhaps that is a manifestation of Wilds’ thespian background. The beats bounce around but the narrative is fairly linear. We won’t spoil the story for you but it’s fairly clear.
Heavy strings, a Method Man cameo and the drum from Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta Fuck Wit starts the album off with a bang on Wild Things. Wild’s singing/rapping blend is closer in DNA to Terror Squad affiliate Tony Sunshine than Drake. While he doesn’t blow the doors off, these are not novelty actor raps but legitimate bars. The classic You Me Him and Her from The Dynasty album is interpolated for the backdrop for rendezvous ode My Crib.
Henny, a hood saccharine track is powered by Mobb Deep’s Burn and employs a hybrid melodic flow that straddles the crooning rap line. Eric B and Rakim’s classic Eric B For President is employed on Own It. The familiar beats gain 90’s novelty points but they hide Wilds limitations vocally and skill wise and move New York: A Love Story closer to mixtape territory than bar code ready material. His strained falsetto is masked by prime-era Primo beat The Realness on track Keepin It Real. Raekwon adds some Shaolin strength along with a Dougie Fresh assist on the very Weekndish U Can Cry To Me. The cape is flapping on this one.
The title track features original production with stirring strings and a score-like feel but the construction is loose with lackluster execution. The interplay between beat, his singling, talking and half rapping, interspersed with vocals from the shorty of the story isn’t as smooth in transition as it should be. There is a lackluster Hip-Hopped version of Mike’s Remember The Time with harp-stringed softness and a further mining Mobb Deep’s Burn serving as the musical backdrop. Wilds lacks the panache or the vocal talent to pull it off but the track feels like part of the album nonetheless.
Duck Sauce takes the album to bed on some strictly rap shit, courtesy of a couple KRS vocal samples and none of the melody from the rest of the album. The track is cute but his skill level at conventional rap music is average.
New York: A Love Story is a cool listen or too. Salaam Remi mans the boards and infuses the album with beats that breed smiles with familiarity. However, the novelties of the Golden Era production, the infusion of Staten Island cosigns and the hey-that’s the-kid-from-The Wire element are not enough to take this album over the top. But it’s a solid effort from someone whose principal business is something other than music and a work that stays consistent with its narrative. The production itself is a love story to the New York dominant era of Hip-Hop and perhaps that’s the allegory they were trying to accomplish.
Out of 5
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