Max B was only on the music scene for a brief four-year period in the late 2000s, but he had a meteoric impact.
In 1997, one year after the passing of Tupac and the same year as the killing of Notorious B.I.G., Max B went to jail, and would serve an eight year sentence on robbery charges.
When he emerged in 2005, he began recording with fellow Harlemites the Diplomats, giving a grungy mystique to Cam'ron's Jay-Z diss "You Gotta Love It" and becoming a member of Jim Jones's ByrdGang, with local luminaries Stack Bundles and Mel Matrix.
Soon after writing Jones's super-awesome megasmash "We Fly High (Ballin')," Max embarked on a solo career—one that gained momentum, oddy, after a falling-out with Jones. (This is described in detail in today's exclusive feature story.) He created "The Wave"—a catchphrase, a movement, and a distinct aesthetic of catchy, melodic, lo-fi rap music—and released a flurry of mixtapes and singles. He built buzz by hopping on unexpected instrumentals and reinventing them in his own distinctive style, as well as recording originals, delivering his gorgeous, melodic hooks with a laid-back nonchalance.
We could easily have made this a list of 50 more songs—apologies to "Eye for an Eye," "Situations," "Live Comfortable," and many, many more—packed with rapid-fire lyrics that alternated between humor and humanity, and delivered with effortless, gritty panache. Strangely, sadly (we think) Max remains a largely unknown entity to the world beyond hardcore rap heads. An undersung folk hero.
So without further ado, here is the newbie's introduction to the Wavy One: The 25 Best Max B Songs.