Exclusive: Mack Wilds honored to be nominated for Best New Artist at this year’s BET Awards


Mack Wilds is determined to give you the best product that he possibly can, as he prepares to embark on a summer long tour alongside Wiz Khalifa, Jeezy, Sage the Gemini, Tyga and more.

Fresh off of the high of his performance at Summer Jam 2014, Rolling Out caught up with the BET Awards’ Best New Artist nominee to chop it up about his rise to fame, the music legends who influenced his promising career, the advice he’d give to up-and-coming artists today and more tantalizing tidbits.

Check out our exclusive chat with the “Henny” singer below. –ruthie hawkins/@ruubabie

Coming fresh off of your performance at Summer Jam, how was your experience and what did you take away from it?

It was probably one of the most amazing experiences of my life. You know, Summer Jam is a staple in New York, in hip-hop history, in hip-hop culture as a whole so honestly for them to even ask me to be a part of it, was amazing. I had to do it.

What did I take away from it? There are definitely things I take from each show. I go home, I listen to the different feeds and watch the videos because I’m critiquing myself so hard. No matter how many people are in the audience, whether it’s 10 or 10,000, I’m going to rock them out and give them a great show. That’s my main objective.

In other Summer Jam news, I’m not sure if you’ve had time to see it yet, but Jhene Aiko blasted some of her critics via Twitter after they dubbed her performance an epic fail. As a new artist yourself, how do you feel about fellow up-and-coming artists making such bold moves in the public eye?

I didn’t get a chance to see it, but that’s the thing I love about Jhene. She’s a real girl and when being a real girl, there are real feelings involved. It sounds like it came from a place of just pure emotion. As artists, that’s what we thrive on. Emotion is our life’s blood, so I think I could be mad at anyone, just going off of pure emotion.

When you first came into the game, most people knew you as an actor on CW’s “90210.” What inspired you to make the transition into music?

Actually, I’ve always wanted to jump into music. It was always just about finding the right time. There was so much I was already doing behind the scene — writing, jumping in the studio with some people we know and love today, but what I needed was a break to just focus on making the music I really wanted to make.

So once Simone [PR] and I sat down, we were very, very much nostalgic about our homes and missing it, the feeling of it and what it meant to us and those summer days, we came up with “New York: A Love Story” and everything else was history.

Who are the top three artists who have influenced your career?

It’s people like Kanye West, who dare to do something different. Or Lauryn Hill, Jay Z, Pharrell or even people that aren’t even in music like [artist] Jean-Michel Basquiat. These people who are known for being different and not being afraid of being different and stepping out.

I always tend to be a little shy so my heroes are very loud. I want to be like them one day.

Now, you’re nominated for Best New Artist at this year’s BET Awards. Congrats. How does that feel?

Thank you — thank you! I feel elated. It’s an honor and I’m just happy to be a part of it. It’s just a great feeling… to be noticed by everyone who is considered my peer. These are the people who have literally watched me since I was 16 years old. And now, they’re voting for me, for a Best New Artist category. It’s crazy. If you would have told me this last year, I wouldn’t have believed you!

You’re also about to embark on a massive tour this summer, the Under The Influence Music Tour, with Wiz Khalifa. How did that come about, working with him?

Wiz is actually somebody I’ve known for a while now from around and one of the guys I kept running into. We had the same agent and he had really listened to my songs so when they started putting the summer tour together, he approached me and I was like why not?

And it’s going to be a dope line up. You’ve got me, Wiz, Jeezy, Tyga, Pharrell, Rich Homie Quan, Ty Dolla $ign, Sage the Gemini, DJ Drama and IamSu, so it’s going to be a lot of people getting together and having fun. And it kicks off July 24.

Five years ago this month we lost the biggest icon in pop music, Michael Jackson, and you recently released a cover of his classic hit, “Remember the Time.” What influenced you to do that? Would you credit him for influencing your career?

Absolutely! I don’t think that there’s an artist that can possibly say right now, that Michael Jackson hasn’t influenced their sound, their look or the way they present themselves to the public in some shape or form.

But when it comes to the “Remember the Time” cover, I can’t take credit for that. That was all Salaam Remi’s doing. When we were first jumping in the studio, he was definitely testing me and while he could have given me something that Ne-Yo or Rico Love had referenced, it was MJ’s record and at that point it was show up or go home.

So that’s what I did. I showed up, sang a few verses and didn’t hear about it again until a few months later, when we were putting together the album. He said we’re going to put this song on and that song on and “Remember the Time” and I was like hold up, I don’t remember doing a song called “Remember the Time.”

But then Salaam reminded me of the cover and I immediately said, “Hold up, are you trying to set me up for failure? Because I know that most people wouldn’t dare do a Michael Jackson song.” But he assured me that it was going to be okay and it all worked out.

What advice would you give to young artists coming up who are a bit shy, like you said you are, who want to break into the music business?

I would definitely tell them to be persistent and not to let other people’s fears be your downfall. There are people who will put their fears on you. The one’s who were afraid to follow their dreams will put those fears on you to protect you, quote unquote. But you can’t let those fears keep you from pursuing your dreams 200%. You have to own it!

At the close of the interview, Mack Wilds also wanted to thank his fans for all of their support.

“Thank you for everything. I realized just a couple days ago, that this year is my 10th anniversary of being in entertainment and you guys are still riding with me. As long as you all are with me, I’m going to give you the best product that I possibly can.”

Looking to catch Mack Wilds this summer? Check out him out during the Under the Influence Tour alongside Wiz Khalifa and more. Dates below…

7/24 Scranton, Pennsylvania @ The Pavilion at Montage Mountain, 6 p.m.
7/25 Camden, New Jersey @ Susquehanna Bank Center, 6 p.m.
7/26 Virginia Beach, Virginia @ Farm Bureau Live at Virginia Beach, 6 p.m.
7/27 Bristow, Virginia @ Jiffy Lube Live, 6 p.m.
7/31 Wantagh, New York @ Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, 6 p.m.
8/1 Burgettstown, Pennsylvania @ First Niagara Pavilion, 6 p.m.
8/2 Mansfield, Massachusetts @ Xfinity Center, 6 p.m.
8/3 Holmdel, New Jersey @ PNC Bank Arts Center, 6 p.m.
8/5 Tinley Park, Illinois @ First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre, 6 p.m.
8/7 Noblesville, Indiana @ Klipsch Music Center, 6 p.m.
8/8 Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio @ Blossom Music Center, 6PM
8/9 Elkhorn, Wisconsin @ Alpine Valley Music Theatre, 6 p.m.
8/10 Clarkston, Michigan @ DTE Energy Music Theatre, 6 p.m.
8/12 Maryland Heights, Missouri @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheater St Louis, 6 p.m.
8/14 Dallas @ Gexa Energy Pavilion, 6 p.m.
8/15 Woodlands, Texas @ The Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion presented by Huntsman, 6:30 p.m.
8/17 Albuquerque, New Mexico @ Isleta Amphitheater, 6:30 p.m.
8/19 Morrison, Colorado @ Red Rocks Amphitheatre, 5 p.m.
8/22 Mountain View, California @ Shoreline Amphitheatre, 6 p.m.
8/23 Chula Vista, California @ Sleep Train Amphitheatre in Chula Vista, 6 p.m.
8/24 Irvine, California @ Verizon Wireless Amphitheatre Irvine, 6 p.m.

**7/29 Toronto @ Molson Canadian Amphitheatre, 6 p.m.

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