It’s been sad to see Max B’s reputation reduced to the Silver Surfer Intermission on The Life of Pablo because I knew he was a talented and beloved rapper, but I only really knew this because I’d been told by people who know much more than I do. I knew he had his own sound but I could never quite get into that sound. That was until I heard Wave Pack, a new compilation of some of his best songs with cleaner mixing and mastering.
His songs and hooks have the magical quality of 50 Cent’s best but with more exuberance and way more range (and are sung by a mouth that can actually open properly). Pre-trap Harlem club ballads and anthems that make you wanna sing along. He’s a slick talker, gifted flexer and loveable asshole. The way he fuses singing and rapping has been hugely influential for less exciting but much more successful artists like Wiz, A Boogie With A Hoodie & Drake. He’s about as far from a traditionally-trained singer as one can be, but once you accept the ‘amateurishness’ of his voice, the places he goes with his high-pitched melodies are incredibly dope & immensely rewarding. A classic Harlem baritone in directions you never expected. It’s like at age 6, the doctors said he’d never sing high again but he set out to prove them wrong.
He’s spent a sad amount of his life incarcerated, currently about a decade through a bid that will hopefully end next year. But the wave don’t stop, he seems to stay in remarkably good spirits and continues to record genuinely hot music through prison phones.
This compilation starts with two of those songs (not a good place to start) and then it’s basically a greatest hits of his solo stuff. He has a few classic mixtapes with French Montana which I found harder to get into (UPDATE: Nah it’s fire). If you’ve ever wondered which act of magic carried the generally unremarkable French Montana to superstardom, it was basically Max B (UPDATE: Nah French used to be fire).
I almost feel scared sharing this cause it’s not what anybody is used to but then I’m like, how can you not fuck with this? You could easily laugh and dismiss it but after a few songs you won’t be able to deny the talent. Preferences are fine but it’s important not to dismiss things immediately lest you miss out on something you thought was goofy or amateur at first. It’s important with all art but particularly hip-hop where a lot of it – a lot of the best stuff – is made on a shoestring budget. There are so many different styles and flows on this tape; it’s proved a good tape entry for me if you’re looking to hear more. This shit is so enjoyable.
Should also warn he has an unfortunate proclivity for the F word if you’re not trynna hear that.
See this shit here was made in the sluuums
Here the popo cooooome
Run homeboy ruuuuuun
Time to go get loooooose
I should be sitting with my name at the toooopBigavelli, 2020.
I just want me a spoooot
That I can call my oooown
So I can go get looooose