MAX B - Public Domain 6: Walking the Plank

By 1997, at the age of 19, Charly Wingate was sent to prison on thievery charges. He stayed there until 2005, and he returned to jail as soon as in 2009, supposedly for having ordered a murder. The case was somehow frail, but he was sentenced to a 75 years' imprisonment nonetheless. Needless to say, the Harlem rapper known as Max B had limited time to build his legend. And to make matters worse, this short period was troubled by his conflict with Jim Jones. Originally sponsored by the Dipset member - Charly had met him through his childhood friend Cam'Ron - he had been the creative force in his own ByrdGang collective. But afterwards, the two of them had started one of the most persistent beefs in hip-hop's history.

MAX B - Public Domain 6: Walking the Plank

Self-released :: 2009 :: download this mixtape

Under such circumstances, Max B had no latitude to release a proper album while he was free. His one and only, Vigilante Season, would be available in 2011 only, after two years of imprisonment. During this short period, though, he set fire to the mixtapes circuit, with his Public Domain and Million Dollar Baby series. And his last year was particularly rich, with two editions of Coke Wave, his collaboration with the most eminent Moroccan rapper in New-York, French Montana, and two new Public Domain releases, both supported by DJ Big Mike : Quarantine, and Walking the Plank, a project he delivered just after his judgment was rendered.

Before his forced silence, Biggaveli – that's what means the "B" in "Max B" – offered a last sample of his recipe: some kind of muttered but insolent raps, dedicated mostly to girls and his sexual prowess, with a strong appetite for sing-song. His art was reminiscent to the one popularized by 50 Cent a few years earlier, but it went deeper. And its melodic quality was strengthened by a soul music tint, with violins ("All In One Night", "Scream", "What You Want From Me"), lascivious ("Dirty South", "CT Bitches") or falsetto ("Moving On out the Door") songs, and languorous guitars ("Cheaper to Keep Her", "Letter to Stack Bundles").

This last piece of work from Max B added a handful of anthological tracks to his great repertoire: the threatening "Dead Solver", with Mack Mustard, and its dense and heavy chorus; some other great collaborations with French Montana, like "CT Bitches" and the "Cake Remix"; "Porno Muzik", a special kind of romance blurring the border between love and pornography; and the quite melodic "Letter to Stack Bundles", dedicated to the late rapper, a friend of his. The true highlight of Walking the Plank, though, was none of these. It was "I Never Wanna Go Back", a heartbreaking lament written one day before the sentence, about Max B's distress and his refusal to go back to jail. This sounded, retrospectively, like the perfect farewell from the rapper, who could have been one of the very best in the 2010's.

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