After years of thinking that maybe, just maybe, it might remerge again, the wave officially came to a crushing, sad and abrupt end.
Yesterday, an appeals court upheld Harlem rapper Max B’s murder conviction and the 75-year sentence he was hit with for his role in a 2006 robbery that turned deadly. Max won’t be eligible for parole until he’s 64.
Personally, this is a tough L for me.
I was born and raised in Spanish Harlem, so I have a connection with Max B and his music; I’m gonna miss hearing new music from Biggaveli.
Max B first really hit the streets back in 2004. The rapper, who had just did a stretch in prison for robbery, was on a number of records with fellow Harlem rapper and friend Jim Jones.
The two became quite the team. In fact, Jim Jones, who had just segregated himself from Cam’ron, was building quite the team.
Byrdgang was the name of the crew and it was made up of Stack Bundles, who was unfortunately killed in 2007, Mel Matrix and Max B.
Max B was the star, though, and this was clear when the crew released their M.O.B. Members of Byrdgang mixtape, one of the hardest, most memorable rap hip-hop mixtapes over the last 10 years.
This might have just been a Harlem thing, but the effect this tape had on the streets was huge. It banged out of every car, every block party and every basketball tournament for that entire summer.
Each member stood out for their own individual trait: Jim Jones was the leader, Stack was the lyrical one, Max B had all the charisma and Mel was…well, he wasn’t very good, actually.
But Max — damn he was great. He sung-rap all of his verses and hooks, with this awesome croaky, frog-like voice.
That M.O.B. mixtape lead to Members Of Byrdgang 2, which wasn’t as good, and Jim’s third album, Hustler’s P.O.M.E. (Product of My Environment), and that album’s huge, huge first single “We Fly High,” a song Max B claims he wrote (something I believe.)
Once that album dropped, however, things between Max and Jim turned sour. Max got hit with the robbery charge, and Jim sat on his million-dollar bail for months. This, plus money issues between the two, lead to their split.
Even though Max would venture out on his own, the rapper kept his name buzzing. While fighting that robbery case, Max released a number of mixtapes, solo and some with the homie French Montana (on the low, Max got French hot first); he continued his beef with Jones, which lead to a number of physical altercations between the two and he filmed and released a number of entertaining videos on WorldstarHipHop.
The Boss Don was great, man (he had many names.) And unfortunately his greatness will never be fully reached. When I think of Max, I’ll always think of that M.O.B. tape, where everything hit perfect, where he was at his sharpest, most charismatic and wittiest.
I’ll also think of what could have been.
Max will be home in 2042.
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