“Max leave the streets? Please, they don’t need that.”
I used to hate Max B once upon a time. I was one of those “that’s not real hip-hop blah blah blah blah.” I didn’t think he was a good rapper, and arguably, he isn’t. I’m willing to admit that. It doesn’t matter, though, because I love him now. I started fucking with Wavy Crockett around the time of his incarceration. That saying “you don't know what you've got till it's gone” applies here. I felt like such an uppity lame when I first heard “I Never Wanna Go Back.”
The pain in his voice gave me chills; it still does. Charly Wingate was fresh off a seven-year bid when he linked up with Jim Jones. Biggavel wrote a bunch of songs for Jimmy and his Byrd Gang collective, most notably “We Fly High.” It’s hard to believe he was able to produce so much music in such a short period of time. Between 2006 and 2009, Max was one of the most prolific artists the rap game had ever seen. Hundreds of songs and about 20 mixtapes flooded the streets. Most of the music is sonically horrible because the tracks aren’t mixed right, leading to a low-quality product. But like always, the streets make due, and the streets recognize talent when they see it.
Max was more about a feeling. He was the East Coast’s Nate Dogg, a ghetto harmonizer with an ability to pen incredible hooks. Blasphemous? Whatever. The streets have and always will love the Boss Don Biggavel. It really doesn’t matter how you feel about it. He represented the struggle. We love to floss because we never had shit growing up. For better or worse, we looked up to these tragic figures. There’s something poetic about watching someone who lived a life of crime ascend to great heights.
He was the East Coast’s Nate Dogg, a ghetto harmonizer with an ability to pen incredible hooks. Blasphemous? Whatever.
Max was one of us. And he was a game changer. He rode a beat like the Silver Surfer and then would float right into charismatic raps about his waviness. Like Roc Marciano once said: “In my opinion, he was the street version of what Drake is—the fans can have Drake, but the streets have Max.”
What makes him a star and hood legend is his personality. Not only was he flashy, he was witty. He invented the wave. His interviews were the best; Max was always good for a quote. Case in point? This Fader interview by Felipe Delerme (Part 1 and Part 2), in which he just lets Max ramble on about $2,000 wave packages, Grand Cru, and snacks for Beanie Sigel. Max was built for the Hollywood lifestyle. The time he and French tried to step to Jim Jones on Cocaine City still gets talked about on blocks and in barbershops across the Tri-state.
Lines like "'Every 10 years niggas like you pop up, you a blast from the past/Your music feel good like waking up, scratching your ass'" are still as funny now as they were when he first released “De La Soul.” He and Pete Rock made Jim Jones’ “G’s Up” a classic record, and if you still want to front on the wave, listen to that track and try to be real with yourself for once. Rap is like wrestling, and Max was the baby-faced heel the streets needed.
The Silver Surfer was the bad guy you felt good rooting for. Even now with all the details of his case coming to light, people still scream, “Free Max B!” It’s hard to feel bad for someone who was involved in a robbery-murder, but, in my opinion, 75 years is a long time for someone who wasn’t physically at the scene of the crime. However, the law is the law, and all we can do is hope he can win an appeal and be out by 2016.
Until then, all the streets can do is keep the wave alive by playing his music and reminding people that he’s a legend. Free Da Wave.
Angel Diaz is a staff writer for Complex Media. Follow him @ADiaz456.