We catch up with actor and musician Tray Chaney – AKA ‘Poot’ from hit TV series ‘The Wire’ about why he decided to write his track “LIVE” about HIV
First up – we’re really psyched about your track “LIVE” dubbed the “World AIDS Anthem” but how did it come about? What inspired you to do a track about HIV and AIDS?
“LIVE” came about because I wanted to create a song that could uplift anyone who’s been affected by HIV.
I was invited to perform “Mike Bully” – an anti-bullying track at the AIDS march in Atlanta in August 2012 but when I saw the passion everybody had for HIV and AIDS it made me realise that the purpose of being there was to save lives and I felt to an extent that I had found my calling and decided to write a track about it.
Being around everyone from the AIDS Healthcare Foundation was inspiring and the support I have received from everyone including you guys at MTV Staying Alive so far has been great.
Could you talk a little about your track “LIVE”? What do you hope this song will achieve?
The ideal outcome/message of “LIVE” is to practice safe sex, share knowledge with your friends and family and take this virus seriously. I hope “LIVE” becomes an anthem for HIV and AIDS around the world.
You starred in the smash series “The Wire” as low level gangster “Poot”, what kind of platform do you feel this has given you to talk on issues such as HIV to young people?
Being in The Wire was one of the greatest experiences of my life – and I am proud to be one of the few guys not to die throughout the 5 series!
My character “Poot” was a negative character in the show, so when I decided to get into music I said to myself that I have to have a positive message and that started with my track “Fatherhood” which calls out on young fathers to be there for their kids.
Do you think celebrities such as yourself have a responsibility to talk on these issues?
That’s something I’m fighting for – I think other artists have a responsibility too – they have a lot of people looking up to them as role models so why not put out something positive.
But I’m an independent artist using these messages for my own idea of success, whereas when you look at the biggest names in hip hop; Kanye West, Jay Z, 50 Cent, Eminem – they are all successful and already great – whereas the messages that I put across in my music is what I believe will make me great.
You grew up in DC – where HIV is a big issue is particularly widespread – how have you been affected by HIV?
I have a cousin who is battling with AIDS as we speak and I have lost people close to me to the virus – so I’ve seen the effects that it has had and it’s sad to see.
Growing up my family were supportive of me and always warning me about the dangers out there – that’s not to say I didn’t slip up along the way just as anyone can.
Do you have a final message you would like to give to everyone watching your track “LIVE”?
It’s hard for me not to say I just want you to “LIVE” but that’s exactly it – watch this video, learn and no matter what happens know there are people like myself who are there for you and organisations like the AIDS Healthcare Foundation and MTV Staying Alive there to support you.