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Hot! Max B does jailhouse interview with Complex Magazine

The section of Trenton that lies in the shadow of New Jersey State Prison looks like the area around a poisoned tree where nothing grows. Stained mattresses lie in front of shuttered storefronts; broken glass from windows and bottles emits a dull luster across the street from a boarded-up bank; and large Budweiser banners hang outside bars that meet alleys full of rowhouses.

More than 1,850 inmates call the massive prison their home, but there’s probably only one that has been on MTV and recorded with some of New York City’s biggest names in 21st-century hip-hop. A quick Google search for this inmate will reveal stories of rap beef, different interpretations of the crime that put him in prison, and a huge trove of videos and photographs, all of which find him in the same uniform, like a superhero from the streets: a N.Y. fitted cap over braids, tight white T-shirt, designer belt barely holding up a pair of jeans, eyes masked by wraparound shades.

Cloaked in the lifestyle’s trappings—clouds of smoke, bottles of brown liquor, doe-eyed women—he appears in various settings: smoking a blunt on a stoop in Harlem; in a dimly lit studio, far from sobriety, with disparaging words for a former colleague; at the center of a frenzied crowd in a packed club; and always flaunting huge wads of cash, the material that was a blessing and a curse, the reason for his current incarceration.

In this context, he is known as Max B, or “Biggavelli,” a play on the nicknames of three rap legends: “Biggie” (Smalls), “Jigga” (Jay-Z), and “Makaveli” (Tupac). But in the current reality, his white tees and designer jeans have been replaced by the prison system’s khaki uniforms for the incarcerated. He won’t be eligible for parole until November 9, 2042.

Even the Public Information officer from New Jersey’s Department of Corrections knows there’s something about this inmate: in a grey, windowless visiting room early one morning in May, he mentions that there have been numerous requests from the press for an interview, but this is the only one that has been granted.

An hour has been allotted, after a lengthy period of no private visits at all. There’s a cage on one side of the room, which prison officials initially offered to put the inmate behind. Instead, an empty plastic chair sits under the harsh fluorescent lights, waiting for hip-hop’s unsung hero: Charly Wingate, 35 years old, a son of Harlem, a father of four. Inmate 000904278D.

Full Interview

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