Lord Is Tryna Tell You Something: How Charly Wingate Became Max B

Lord Is Tryna Tell You Something: How Charly Wingate Became Max BWritten by Finn Cohen (@Finn_Cohen); Photography by Shane McCauley; Lead art photography by Shane McCauley (left) and Alexander Richter (right).
How long after that did the incident with Gina and Kelvin happen? 
It was all in the mix. Everything was crumbling with Jim. That’s not an excuse for the situation, I'm just saying. That’s what made me drift, to where I wasn’t supposed to be. Because it was hard being around these dudes. Like, I can’t do what I love, what I'm here to do. I know that’s why God put me here. I'm here to make this music right here, to put this thing together. They was fucking it up for me. 

Who was?
Jim, all of them. They was just fucking it up. They was under this impression—I think they all adopted this from Cam’ron—they were all into this impression that the new guys must pay the dues, and they don’t deserve this, and when they go out on a show they only get $300. I'm like, "What the fuck, are you fucking kidding me?" I'm like, "Number one: I do all the fucking records around here. Number two: all the records we producing in the studio—these are fucking singles you puttin’ out, radio spins! Where’s my shit? Why when I go perform at a show, and you making excess amount of dollars, you making ten, fifteen grand, how the fuck is you giving me $300? I'm doing eight, nine fucking records! I'm out here sweatin’ too! When you got drama and beef in different cities, and motherfuckers is throwing chairs on the stage—they throwin’ them shits at me too! I want money." This is what all the beef start stemmin’ from. I always needed money. I'm like, "I need money. I can’t live off $300. Naw, man, you gotta pay me accordingly. Or let me make my own money. Let me get my own manager, or assistant. Let me book my own shit."

 

It’s just a sad situation. This whole ordeal, I'm just saddened by everything. Even the victim, the family, everything. Unfortunate events occurred. And you can’t change them. But I'm sad that I'm held liable.

 

There was arguments, there was disrespect every night in the studio. To where, I didn't want to go in. Some nights he had to call me: "Yo, come and work." "I don’t wanna go. I don’t like this shit no more."

I got out on bail in 2007, summertime. My bail was like $1.5 million. No way I think I'm gettin’ out. I'm thinking, "Who’s gonna come get me." But we found a way. My tangible songs, I was able to sell some publishing to those, for some money. When I got out of prison, my buzz got bigger, I became more recognized. People was runnin’ up on me in the street—"Yo Max, let me get a autograph." Soon as I got out of prison, my man Bruno said, "Yo Max, when you come home, you gonna be something special." So I see the buzz, I see the energy. And when I came home this time, it was the same thing with these guys in the studio. No recognition, like, "Come on, give me my proper due. Where’s the etiquette here?"

This time I was so flared up and angry. I had got some songs on the radio, and then waited 'till them songs got in rotation with [Funkmaster] Flex, and let everybody get a little glimpse of me this time, I put out another mixtape. And then once I knew I had the buzz, I went in the studio, stole a few more records, my records, and I started something I knew the city, the rap game, was gonna eat up. I started a beef. I had to. It was me against the world. 

One of the things you were saying is how you became Max, and Charly just got left behind. Do you feel that with all the pressure, especially with the legal troubles, that it got darker?
I think it did, because, my trial, to me, was unfair. Because any time the judge give you instructions not to go on the computer, when he’s giving instruction to the jury, "Don’t go on the Internet, don’t talk about it..." But who’s to stop that person from going home and clicking on his mouse? And look up the person that they’re either gonna convict or find innocent. 

When they click on me, they see rap beef. They see me smoking weed. They see me womanizing. They see me cursing on my records, throwing money in the air. Just real "niggery," real ignorant—but that’s what I do. That’s Max B. And like I said, it was hard to separate the two, which I should have done. Which was a necessity before I went to trial, and should have been done as soon as I got out. 

But it just seems like I got worse. Late night, booze, drunk binges, car crashes. You name it, I was involved. All out on bail—you know how many times I got arrested? I got arrested like five times, on five weed violations and DUIs—out on bail. It wasn’t like I was reinventing myself or trying to do something, some charity work or something—just something positive. It wasn’t nothing positive. It was back to the studio, back to the lifestyle. Back to the crazy life, and had I beat this case… I couldn’t even tell you what I’d be doin’. 

Do you feel like it was better for Charly that you didn’t? 
Naw, I ain't gonna say that because, people need me. I got kids; my kids need me. I just never knew how to separate the two. It’s like it just jumped in me and that was it. 

Have you learned anything about yourself since you’ve been here?
I still act the same way, I'm still selfish in some ways. I don’t like to be that way but sometimes it’s just uncontrollable, like an uncontrollable beast. And I just be prayin’ on it, hoping that I can grow into being a man, just humble, just chilling out. Just being easy. Being Charly.

What you’re talking about is a character, who’s like a shield. And your family has been through a lot. Is this a way to shield yourself from dealing with a lot of that stuff? There’s been a lot of bad contracts, and things have gotten stalled, and a lot of "wrong place at the wrong time" situations on top of all this other stuff. 
[Long pause] You don’t want to, but… I don’t even know. It’s just sad, man, my whole life. Charly wasn’t nobody, he grew up in the ghetto, I was always in trouble. Charly is like, just Charly. Max is…Max makes the moves, Max do’s the do’s. Charly’s just like, "You stay over there."

It’s just a sad situation. This whole ordeal, I'm just saddened by everything. Even the victim, the family, everything. Unfortunate events occurred. And you can’t change them. But I'm sad that I'm held liable for something that I was limited, next to not even being really involved… It’s just crazy the way it unfolded. And the way that it unfolded—it gotta be something deep, something spiritual. Have you ever been in a situation where everything bad happens? It usually don’t happen like that. If four or five things bad happen, you gonna get one good thing outta that. 

One little thing could’ve been different and I wouldnt’ve been here. I always think about the way everything played out, I be like, "Damn, even if this one thing woulda been said, this woulda been different," but it wasn’t.

Maybe this place is meant for me to get back into who I am. Maybe it is. I don’t know. 

I think what you’re talking about is—you know your song title, "Lord Tryna Tell You Somethin"? Does that apply to this?
Absolutely. Indirectly, I'm saying the same thing. Absolutely God be talking to you, giving you the signs. You just gotta open up and see them. Sometimes I be so shut out, I don’t even see them. I be missing my blessings. They there, they still there. Out of all this I'm going through right now… I'm still not in an all-the-way-messed-up situation.

I'm still better off than most people. Even though I'm in here. There’s a positive. There’s a way out. I still got a lot of appeals left. I gotta keep it going man, ain’t no stoppin. I'm here, I'm on this earth, my eyes is open, my brain is working. I gotta keep going until God stops everything. French’s album just dropped, I got two joints on there. It could be rougher. My man could’ve been a sucker. Could’ve been like, “Fuck Max. I'm not puttin’ him on.” But, [he’s] on Hot 97, on promo shows, like “Free Max, free Max.’ They know I'm still here.

What do you tell your kids about your situation?
They too young to really understand the logistics. I just tell ‘em that I love ‘em. "Daddy was bad, Daddy got in trouble. That’s why you need to be good and listen to grandma, before you be in here like me. You won’t be with me, you’ll be like me."

They real little, they tiny. Them years are not to come yet. Hopefully I can be back in the mix before they get to that age.

At some point, they’re gonna get old enough—what are you gonna tell them about Max B? Not necessarily the case and the trial, but that character? Charly is a father and has other responsiblities; Max B is like this superhero who has no responsibilities and lives the lifestyle. How do you reconcile those two, and how are you going to talk to your kids about that?
I would just tell them, "Listen—don’t follow me, my way. You can pursue my profession, but don’t follow me." I never thought I was a role model of any sort. I was just reckless, irresponsible, and I loved very little things.

You know, I didn’t do things right. They can learn from me. They can use my life as a blueprint of what not to do and what to do what I’ve done and do it better. They do have an advantage—I can tell them, "This is where I went wrong, this is the wrong path I went down." 

That be like my worst nightmare sometimes, to figure out how can I tell them or how can I explain to them certain things about parenthood and responsibility, because I don’t really know these things. I didn’t like to play by rules, that’s the reason why I'm here. And that’s another thing I’d tell them: "Look, you gotta play by the rules, because society is built by rules. Whatever you do, there’s rules involved. Whenever you don’t follow rules, there’s consequences."

I'm gonna get back to the family, get back to just being Charly for a little while. Even if I was to get out, man, I might not even go right back into the studio. Spend some time with the family, get my head on straight, get back to just being me. 

How long do you think it’s been since you’ve been "you"?
[Sighs.] Man, I don’t even know…it’s been a long time. Been years. This character is not letting me go. And I want to let it go. Maybe it’s a fear, right? Like something you’re letting go, but you’re actually not letting anything go.

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Tags: max-b, french-montana, jim-jones
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