Remember back in the day? When Kangol hats and Adidas tracksuits were fresh and A Tribe Called Quest and Wu-Tang Clan cassettes were the soundtrack to life? Tonight (January 4), VH1 revisits the golden age of hip hop in The Breaks. The film centers around three friends trying to make it big in the music industry in New York City. Nikki Jones (Afton Williamson) ditches her "Harvard scholarship" to become an intern for a crazy label boss (Wood Harris), while boyfriend David Aaron (David Call) suffers at a one-note radio station job. The charismatic DeeVee (Tristan “Mack” Wilds) is an up-and-coming producer trying to find the next big rap star, while dodging his crazy dad (Method Man). BET spoke to Mack about his starring role and how he got into a throwback state of mind.
Without giving too much away, who is DeeVee?
My character is DeeVee, aka Darryl Van Putten Jr. He’s a very headstrong kid who drops out of college to pursue his love, his dream for music. He doesn’t really listen to anyone, his dad in particular, who tells him, “Go to school and get a regular job! Live life this way!” The music he hears in his head is the only thing that he follows, which can get him into trouble or out of it.
How did you come on board The Breaks?
The script came across my desk and I loved it. I knew [director] Seith Mann from The Wire. I think I was going out for something else at the same time, so I was honestly considering passing on it. Randomly I saw Seith at a Casey Veggies show and he cornered me on the storyline and what he wanted to do and like, “Yo. I really want you to do this with me.”
How did you prepare for the role of DeeVee? You were an infant when the film takes place.
[Laughs]. Exactly. It was a little bit of everything. Throwing myself all the way back. Listening to the music, even talking to people from the time and getting the stories and hearing what they were doing. Looking at videos. Watching movies. A lot of preparation.
What were you listening to?
DeeVee seems reminiscent of Puff Daddy. Was there any living person character that he was inspired by?
In the opening scene, you’re furiously making a beat in your dad’s garage. Did (Premo who also serves as executive music producer) help guide you on set?
That’s pretty much exactly how it was like. It’s the little things on how to make a beat. The executive producers and Premier were hands-on while I was doing it.
Method Man plays your angry dad in the movie. Coming from Staten Island, N.Y., what was it like to have him in this role?
It was fun. I’ve known Meth my whole life. To see him play the exact opposite of who he was in my life — he was such an inspiration like “Yo! follow your dream” — I was barely able to keep a straight face most of our scenes.
Are you an actor that likes to stay in character offset? Did you find yourself still wearing your Kangol hat or dropping ‘90s slang after shooting ended?
I mean, sometimes you get caught up in the character, but I always love being able to go home and decompress.
Like use an actual cell phone and not a pager?
What do you want fans to take away after watching The Breaks?
I want them to jump back in time and enjoy the music the way these characters do. I want them to fall in love with the people and the time. It was a great time. We just had fun making this. I want everyone to watch it and have fun with us.