Q&A: Incarcerated Rapper Max B on His 40-Year Jail Sentence and His New Record Vigilante Season

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"They found me guilty as an accomplice to murder and a co-conspirator for felony murder and robbery, which they had no proof of whatsoever." Max B is talking on the phone from Bergen County Prison in New Jersey, where he's serving out a 40-year sentence for these charges. The offenses relate to an incident on September 22nd, 2006, when a man named David Taylor was shot and killed as Max B's fellow defendants Gina Conway and Kelvin Leerdam attempted to rob Taylor and his associate Allan Plowden of $30,000 at a Holiday Inn in Fort Lee, New Jersey. It's a spell of incarceration the rapper is appealing -- not least because he says he was back home in New York when the fatal robbery took place. Max B is confident his appeal will be approved, and estimates he could be a free man as early as this July.

In the interim, he's just released Vigilante Season, his debut album via the Amalgam Digital label. Recorded before he was locked up, the project sees Max, who came to prominence by helping one-time Dipset capo Jim Jones write 2006's summer smash single "We Fly High (Ballin')," teaming up with the producer Dame Grease, who crafted many of DMX's early hits. (According to Amalgam Digital's DJ Next, Jones sent out a cease and desist order when Max B attempted to sign to the label, claiming that he still owned rights to Max B's contract; following a lawsuit, a judge ruled against Jones's claim.) Unable to promote the album and its first single, "Money Make Me Feel Better," in person, Max B says, "We just got to ride on this one, hopefully it do good and I can come out and give you the next one and be behind it 100%."

In the days leading up to the album's release, Max B engaged in two phone calls from Bergen County Prison to speak about the rigors of his incarceration, anomalies in his trial, the perceived foulness of the New Jersey prison system, and the days when he held down a pre-rap nine-to-five at the World Trade Center.

How has today been for you?

Today's been alright, it was a cool day, nice outside, got a little fresh air. Now I'm back in the hole ready to get ready for the tournament, this NCAA game, UConn against Butler. CT, stand up! That my second home from home, Connecticut, I used to spend a lot of time there.

Can you remember what your first night in Bergen County Prison was like?

First night was horrible. After I blew trial, I had to come in fresh off the street, man. I blew trial, I was fresh at the table, the judges were telling me I'm guilty and reading me my counts, then I'm taking off my jewelry and getting ready to walk to a prison van. The weekend before that I was having a ball. It was my birthday weekend, I was in Connecticut -- I had a venue party sold-out show. Then coming to prison to hear a guilty verdict? First night was tough. But I got over it, I'm good.

Do you get treated differently in prison because you're a rapper?

Absolutely. It's a little overwhelming at times, 'cause some dudes, when I go out, some guys run up on me like, "You Max B?" They have that face on them -- some could be fans, some could be enemies, some could be like groupies -- and it's a little overwhelming. But in here, I just stay with my guys. I pray at night that every time I go out, it's not crazy, no violence, no rah-rah stuff. I pray for calm nights.

Do you get wannabe rappers trying to battle you in prison?

These guys respect me in here. I set the example for the guys in here. I already established myself, and looking at my career, I'm not a battle rapper. But just with me going to prison twice [Max B previously served eight years in prison for robbery charges] and accomplishing what I have accomplished, guys in prison truly respect what I've done. They try to find ways to get with me in the future and work together in the future. I don't battle.

Have any other rappers or artists been to visit you since you've been locked up?

French [Montana] came to see me. Shout out to Frenchy. But that's it, man. My visits are real exclusive, I keep it close, just family. But just 'cause they don't visit or write me don't mean they don't love me. I really don't want too much attention when I'm down on the visit -- I like to enjoy the company of my kids and my mother. I keep my business real exclusive.

What's the biggest rumor you've heard about yourself since you've been in prison?

The biggest rumor that I heard was that I was actually home. I heard that a couple of weeks ago. There are no real big rumors about me -- I put it all out there, people know about me. But yeah, a couple of weeks ago somebody said I was actually home. That's not true, as we can actually see.

What was your first reaction when you heard the guilty verdict?

I just wanted to cry, I ain't gonna even lie, man, I wanted to cry. That's probably the most hurtfullest disappointment ever in my life to hear that verdict. I was on the cover of Hip-Hop Weekly -- I don't know if you saw it or not -- but my eyes was like bloodshot red. I just couldn't believe it. It was unbelievable that I got caught up in this nonsense and my culpability was next to nothing and they still found a way to trap me in the system. It's horrific. It's indescribable. It's a painful feeling. But I was good in two days.

Was there a point in the trial when you started to realize that a guilty verdict might be coming?

I always thought that was a possibility from the day I was arrested, from like how the police even racked me up in this joint. I always kept it 50-50: if I beat it, I beat it; if I don't, I don't. I left it in God's hands. I guess he got a plan for me to go through this and see what I got to see before I get out. It's crazy.

Some reports say you were sentenced to 75 years in prison. Was it hard to process such a high number of years?

Well it's actually 40, but it's the same thing to me, 'cause I'm 30 so I'll be an old man anyway. First thing I thought was, " It is what it is -- now let me get up out this joint." I mean I already knew what my time was gonna be two years prior if I was found guilty -- I was out on the street knowing what I would be facing. But I ain't lose yet, I'm in the appellate courts. And if I lose that I can go to he Supreme Court, all the way up. As much time as they make me spend in here, I'll spend it fighting.

Do you ever replay the events of the day the robbery happened in your head?

Actually, yeah, I replay it, but it's hard to replay it 'cause when it happened I wasn't there! You know what I'm saying? I was in New York as the crime occurred, so I mean... I go back and replay things I could have done different that day. It was just so delicate, and the universe is so screwed up it's probably something I could have said or one little call that could have changed the whole course of events. But it didn't work that way.


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23 comments
Bigaveli_*
Bigaveli_*

fuck everyone free max b bigaveli to the death of me<3

Bigkev Kb39
Bigkev Kb39

yo dis niga is my dude I fuks wit him hard. fuk a hater. free Max b. coke boys .l..

Mrz.moola martin
Mrz.moola martin

Max hold ya head up n neva let em c fear or get da feelin u have been defeated.they may take ur freedom but 40 yrs can neva take ur pride,dignity,self respect nor spirit.becuz dats how dey work anything to make u seem lower den dirt...i am 1 of ur biggest fans n I pray for u,i hope ur appeal goes thru so all da ppl dat did u wrong will suffer beneath ur victory... Free MAX B!

JJoanuh
JJoanuh

He acts like he is doing ok, but we all know he is devastated about being locked up....

He is one of the most original musicians I have ever heard....

I really hope he gets out.... I want to see him keep winning... I think he has a good soul...

Innocence project candidate !!!!

Gorilla Ish
Gorilla Ish

FREE THE SURFER GAIN GREENE STILL ON DECK RISE OF THE FOOT SOILDERS

Aobmed
Aobmed

Just have a GOOOOOOOOOD lawyer this time around.

Guest
Guest

"They found me guilty as an accomplice to murder and a co-conspirator for felony murder and robbery, which they had no proof of whatsoever." I almost stopped there because "they had no proof" is not "I am innocent." But then he says he wasn't there. Then he says that maybe a phone call could have changed things. Then he says..."All they proved was conspiracy to a death -- nothing else they proved, nothing."and he's worried about technical issues like the judge's instructions.

It sounds like he's saying that he's guilty of conspiracy to commit a crime, possibly robbery, that turned into murder. I think that might be what he means by "conspiracy (that led) to a death."

I have no idea what happened and it's not fair to him to publish this really, though it would have been a great platform for someone who didn't come across as a jailhouse lawyer and didn't make statements that sound like confessions. If he admits they proved conspiracy, he's admitting he engaged in a criminal conspiracy, and if someone was murdered in the commission of the crime, he didn't have to be there or have the same intentions as them.

It's sad that he may grow old in prison and he seems like a mostly decent person, but he's done 8 years for robbery already. That is probably a huge factor in his 40 year sentence, because that's a long sentence for this crime, as he sort of says, "but according to the law you're supposed to be served and convicted according to your culpability and charges," which, again, sounds like, "I'm guilty but I don't think I'm guilty of what I was charged with."

My only source of information on any of this is in this story and all I'm doing is trying to read between the lines, but I don't know whether he's actually guilty of anything.

Robrainey35
Robrainey35

We b ridin that wave ova here London man Keep wavy my Guy.

MacMurf
MacMurf

hold ya head, sounds like he's surviving it

Elisabecky
Elisabecky

I am just a bit curious..the magazine HOLLYWOOD GOSSIP reported his profile was found on the famous rich men seeking affairs site !!!(blackwhitepassion.сοм) last week and

he was seeking his sugar woman there. wow!!

Willz_berry
Willz_berry

I agree with you completely took the words rite out of my mouth

Jesus
Jesus

like u said a gossip website... anyway real shit... best interview i herd from him regarding his case

FrankNitty2000
FrankNitty2000

max b taking it to the streets of freedom - fight on my soldier, fight the power until your free..

Joehayes7414
Joehayes7414

@ scared of murderers!! You're a fucking idiot!!

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