In a sense, Max B is the most influential New York rapper of the past 10 years. Before him was 50 Cent, and though the success Curtis experienced has yet to be replicated by another New Yorker, Max had the same approach in the mid-to-late 2000s: flood the streets with mixtapes and hijack songs with a fresh new style.
The Harlem rapper’s name first rung bells when he started running with Jim Jones and his Byrd Gang circa 2005. Within a year, Jones had the biggest hit of his career with “Ballin,” which happened to be written by Max B, but in 2006, the rapper got picked up for a botched robbery that led to a homicide. He would end up spending 10 months in prison before getting out in July 2007. His bail was $2 million and to raise funds, he sold his publishing to Jim Jones. It would prove to be a fatal decision.
2008, tensions had arose in the camp and Max had distanced himself. Before long, he was dissing Jones on songs like “Paperwork,” “Picture Me Rolling” and “Lip Sing.” Max even repeatedly made references to Jones’ wife Chrissy “touching it in Miami,” but with his publishing signed over to the Dipset member, he couldn’t release any proper music.
So he adjusted. Max dropped mixtapes with DJ Whoo Kid and Big Mike. He jacked other people’s songs and made them his own. He combined three legendary rap monikers into one and called himself Biggavelli. He was a self-made icon. It’s no coincidence that rappers like Wiz Khalifa and A$AP Rocky have all absorbed elements of Max’s technique throughout the years.
But by 2009, the law caught up to Max and he was sentenced to up to 75 years in prison for murder conspiracy and robbery. As of right now, he’s serving his sentence at the New Jersey State Prison in Trenton.
Nonetheless, his wave has remained steady, so to celebrate his influence on the game, we take a look at Max B’s solo mixtape catalog and try to parse the great from the good. Spoiler: there is no bad.
A quick rundown of criteria: these are just solo tapes, hence why Coke Wave 1 and 2 aren’t included. We’re also not including retail projects like Domain Diego or the iTunes version of Quarantine, as they toe the line between mixtape and album.
So grab a bottle of Grand Cru and call your haze connect as supportmaxb.comk walks through Max B’s solo tapes.
01. ‘Million Dollar Baby’ (2006)
Max was still running with Jim Jones and Byrd Gang at the time of this 2006 tape, but his unique singing talent was already apparent. From the start, he was twisting established records in entirely new ways, and it was clear he was the shining start of the clan. Songs like “Grind For Me” and “Fuck Ya Butt” proved it was only a matter of time until he became a phenomenon.
02. ‘Million Dollar Baby Radio’ (2006)
Nothing but excellence, front to back. This was the original Public Domain, the one that started the entire series. It became a movement on its own thanks to amazing records like “Oow Oow” and “Bang Bang Boogie.”
03. ‘Public Domain 1: The Prequel’ (2007)
Any time Max and Big Mike hooked up, it was something special. This was a lowkey affair for the Wavy one, but freestyling over classics like Hov’s “Politics as Usual” and Young Buck’s “Prices on My Head” didn’t hurt his case at all. His freestyles transformed old songs into brand new creations.
04. Public Domain 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer’ (2007)
A seminal turning point in Max’s career, this tape was an instant classic. “Flash Dance” is a crazy intro, “Harlem Bomb” sounds like a bright summer day with those keys and that “De La Soul” track is straight jamming. This one stays in rotation.
05. ‘Million Dollar Baby 2’ (2008)
From the opener “Umma Do Me” to “Don’t Take It Personal,” this found Max feeling himself in the aftermath of the Jim Jones beef. He was getting hot and he knew it, so he released records with Alchemist and Styles P while he was on the way up. With a chock full of timeless records, Million Dollar Baby 2 is always a good listen.
06. ‘Million Dollar Baby 2.5: Da Appetizer’ (2008)
Max had so many records he made in-between versions of his tapes, but this one was a little too weighed down by the homies. Al Pac had a bunch of guest features, but solo tracks like “No Questions” and “See Me Style” stood out from an otherwise solid collection of crew cuts. French Montana managed to blow up, but the other rappers under Max haven’t fared quite as well.
07. ‘Wavie Crockett’ (2008)
Everything about this tape is classic, from the name to the image of Max wearing that hat. He was hitting a certain sound on this tape too with classics like “Gotta Have It,” “West Coast Wave” and “I Don’t Wanna.” He was making mature mood music that still had a hint of the struggle in it. He was on his way to bigger things.]
08. ‘Quarantine’ (2009)
Max’s last great solo tape came in two versions: a free version with DJ drops and a rare iTunes version with an alternate tracklist. Each version has its pros and cons, but this one included the incredible intro, “I Ain’t Tryna” and “Won’t Go Back.” Still, go find the proper retail version for “Quarantine” and “Take a Look at Me,” two must-have Max tracks for any diehard fan.
09. ‘Public Domain 6: Walk the Plank’ (2009)
Despite having some dope artwork, PD6 reflected the downward turn that Max’s fortune had taken in the wake of his guilty verdict. The tape was subtitled Walking the Plank, and despite a couple good tracks like “Dead Solver” and “Everything,” it also included a couple older loosies that had already been widely available like “Never Wanna Go Back” and “Letter to Stack Bundles.” Overall, the tape was the inadequate audible accompaniment to Max’s downfall.
10. ‘Million Dollar Baby 3: The Wave Never Ends’ (2009)
The last of the MDB trilogy wasn’t necessarily bad, it just had already well-known records like “Wake Up Every Morning” and “Which Way Did He Go” all over it. It still showcased Max having fun over other beats and managed to resist the encroaching shadow on his career.