The 25 Realest Rap Songs About Prison

Max B "Never Wanna Go Back" (2009)

Producer: Young Los
Album: Goon Music 2.0
Label: None

As prison rates spike, it reinforces a permanent underclass of professional criminals, a growing population of felons unable to vote and unable to secure steady employment, which leads to high recidivism rates. What does this mean? Whether they want to or not, a lot of rappers are gonna go back. Max B was one of them. After eight years spent behind bars on robbery charges, Max was released in 2005, and had a brief, four-year period of incredibly fertile creativity.

Recorded towards the tail end of this era, when it looked like he might be returning to prison, he recorded "Never Wanna Go Back." The lyrics find Max pleading for leniency, in between rapping matter-of-fact-ly about flipping kilos and how his infrared never misses: "Got talent, family back home, for structure and balance." This contradiction—bragging about criminal exploits while lamenting these tragic circumstances—perfectly encapsulates hip-hop's conflicted, schizophrenic relationship with a rigged deck. —David Drake

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