Max B: The Wavy Harlem Renaissance
With a sound that has yet to be duplicated -- he sounds like a cross between a modern day Lou Rawls and Bizzy Bone -- and with a name like "Biggaveli," Max certainly sets himself apart from his fellow emcees and singers. He is back at it, by himself this time, with a new label home at Amalgam Digital, a rising force in the world of Internet music suppliers; he's put out an incredible catalog of mixtapes, several guest appearances one of which include fellow New Yorker Jadakiss, and has co-signs from Cocaine City's French Montana and G-Unit's general 50 Cent.
We had several interruptions during the interview from what Max calls "People bringing money to my house every 10 minutes," and a direct request from his publicist to not ask any questions about an estranged onetime affiliate. Deterrences and all, Max found a unique way to generate interest outside of his former Byrdgang capo. Instead, he talked to HipHopDX about everything from his opinion on the Harlem Renaissance, to how no one on your corner has swagger like Max, and even his relationship with Cam'ron. Perhaps the potential tallest rising star of 2009, get wavy with Max B.
HipHopDX: What's been going on with Max B?
Max B : Well, what's this, '09? Yeah, this the wavy year! We wavy this year. This the year that everything is going to happen, like some real big stuff!
DX: How did the switch from Koch to Amalgam Digital come about?
Max B: Aw man, that was some quick shit, shout outs to Amalgam Digital. I got a three-album deal, and they got all three of the joints already. It's digital tied in, and we waiting on the signatures to let them go with the hammer. Once the hammer drops, everything's going to be ready. Just keep the question mark on there, coming soon, coming soon!
DX: I hear that they distribute all of their artists' records online. Do they work with iTunes and Amazon.com or are they their own distributor? How exactly does that work?
Max B: I mean you know...that's what they do. They distribute it and spend all kinds of money and promoting all over and doing stuff you know? That's what they do and they give you back half or whatever. I don't know man, you know me, I ain't really down with all them sexy numbers. It was an in and out deal with some upfront money and then when it comes back off the flip, that's when you see yours every month, know what I'm sayin'? It's a 60/40 [percent] split your way. That's after you get the upfront money you go 60/40, then y'all break even, and then it goes back up or something like that. It benefits you every way though, so you can't loose, especially when you a nigga like me!
DX: You have a very soulful side to your music. Are you influenced by the "Motown era" or any old school artists?
Max B: Man its like 50/50. When I say I'm motivated by three-in-one that's what it is, I'm three-in-one, so I got so many styles. I'm just trying to be creative and keep it musical and keep it soulful, because that's what music is. It's not about rapping it's about soul. So if you say I'm soulful, then I'm going to reach the people. The people is going to feel it in they spirit and you can't stop the spirit. How you going to stop the wave? It's impossible! All you got to do is make good music.
DX: So what do you enjoy more...Being an emcee or your R&B side?
Max B: I'm just a musician, man; I'm just a rocker. It's just a lifestyle, man, it's more than the music; the music is just there. But you know, I mix it up a little. I like to do both. I like to do just a little bit of everything with the beat. You know I can do both very exceptional, but its more than both because I got like twelve styles! I got so many I like to mix them up.
DX: Being that you're a musician from Harlem, what, in your opinion, did the Harlem Renaissance do for young artists such as yourself?
Max B: Well you know man, who you consider renaissance from Harlem? Bumpy Johnson? Rich Porter? Who you talking about? What kind of renaissance men you talking about?
DX: As far as the movement they had in Harlem with the black artists making a come-up and a name for themselves like Louis Armstrong and Billie Holiday.
Max B: That sounds political man, that sounds like some 125th Street shit, some black-power shit, my nigga. I ain't into all that. I just spent [$20,000] on a studio, I got two cribs, I'm about to get a new car and I'm about to put my shit in perspective for real. Shit's about to get crazy for '09, man. So I ain't really paying attention to the black power, 125th street shit, man. I only go over there to get $300 skullies. I don't know nothing about the politics.
DX: You've been in this business awhile now, so I'm sure that you've witnessed first hand how people operate. What can you tell us about separating your personal from business relationships?
Max B: Nah, I'm still working on it, man. It's still early. I just moved in and I'm just getting in cahoots with niggas, so you always going to bump into that shit; you just got to try and space it out as best as you can. 'Cause you got people you really like and you think they trying to help you and they fuck you around. You'll forgive them and they'll fuck you around again, so you know we all do that to each other as individuals. Just people in general that's how we are, so my advice to the people is just pray. Even if you don't get on your hands and knees just pray in your heart. You just got to go hard and do for you.
DX: You put your signature stamp on lingo such as "Wavy" and "Owww". What's your swagger like?
Max B: My swag is crazy man. The ladies love me, so you do the rest. The ladies love me, the niggas love me and the kids love me. I'm fly, make good music, I drive a good car, I'm sexy, and my swagger is impeccable! I'm one of the top 100 niggas out here. I ain't say 50, I said 100! Niggas got a lot of money out here, and I'm still up and coming you know? I'm realistic with mines.
DX: I know you have a few aliases with one of them being "Biggaveli". Where does that name come from?
Max B: It stands for Big, Jigga and 'Pac. It's something I made up when I was in the can before I [was released from prison]. At that time, all them niggas was hot so I said, ''Why not?'' I plan on being on top. But I ain't come out with the "Biggaveli" style, I was Max B first in the game, right? I had like 50 different styles then I transformed to the 'Vel. You smell me? I knew that the name was so complex that niggas would never come up with it. Jim [Jones] [click to read] grabbed on to Max B, and he ain't even know about 'Vel, 'Vel was some other type of nigga.
DX: You have been working very closely with multi-platinum producer Dame Grease. How did you make that connection with DMX's former hit-maker?
Max B: Yeah Grease [is] just my nigga from the hood. He came to the studio and had some records, I had some shit, I got locked back up, came home and went to the nigga's studio and started recording with him. I ain't have no studio and he was like, ''Just come to my joint whenever," and we came up with the PD-3 [Public Domain 3]. So you see how we got the swagger coming into the swagger?
DX: How were you effected by the death of Stack Bundles?
Max B: That was fucked up because the nigga Stacks was close to me, I ain't even gonna front. I was in jail at the time, so a nigga was sitting. A nigga learned to cope with that thing pretty well though, R.I.P to Stacks. Shout out to my nigga, he played me all the joints he had. Man, that was my nigga.
DX: 50 Cent has had you on G-Unit radio, and he even came between you and Papoose's altercation at Power 105.1. What's your relationship like with 50?
Max B: Oh he cool, shout out to 50 [click to read]. He on a whole other level, me I'm still in the street and 50 up in the palace. I guess he was just giving a brother an opportunity man. He got a nigga real wavy on the radio station. Shout out to 50 for that, he ain't have to call me up there he called me up there to talk about the wave. I gotta love him for that! Shout out to [Tony] Yayo [click read].
DX: Speaking of "Curtissss," why do you think Cam'ron has been out of the public eye for so long?
Max B: I don't really know, man. It might be his material, or maybe the nigga got so much money [that] he don't want to move. Maybe he just want to be tucked away. But I fucks with Cam, I just spoke to him like a month ago or something like that. Everything's good with him.
DX: So what can we expect from the "Boss Don" in '09?
Max B: It's a new year and new money, baby! Go log-on, go look online, go to YouTube, go to wavycrocket.com; go to my MySpace, and look at me on the French [Montana] joint pulling out that '09 money and how I started the year off. That's how I'm doing it for now!