Having spent the last 10 months behind bars, Dipset Byrdgang member Max B is anxious to make up for lost time. Born Charles Wingate, Max made a name for himself through his catchy, rhythmic hooks on both of Jim Jones’ albums—2005’s Harlem: Diary of a Summer and 2006’s Hustler’s P.O.M.E. (Product of My Environment). Max’s promising career hit a major roadblock last September when he was arrested in Bergen County, NJ for allegedly masterminding the botched robbery and murder of 29-year-old David Taylor from Florida. Although not believed to be the actual shooter or present during the incident, police accuse the Harlem native of having his girlfriend and another women pose as prostitutes to lure Taylor and an acquaintance to a Holiday Inn hotel room where they were to be robbed. Things went awry and Taylor wound up shot to death. Bail was rumored to be set as high as $2 million and Max is looking at a life sentence if found guilty of felony murder, robbery and conspiracy to commit robbery. Fortunately, Jim Jones came through with the $100,000 bail and Max was released from New Jersey’s Bergen County Jail on July 10. Still awaiting a firm trial date, the 28-year-old rapper is using his time home to finish up his debut album, Reaping the Benefits. Two days after becoming a free man, Max B spoke with XXLMag.com about his trying prison sentence, new LP and relationship with Jim Jones.
Last September you were accused of masterminding a murder in New Jersey. Is there anything you can say regarding the case?
Case is still pending. Can’t talk about that, baby. You already know that.
You were facing life in prison with a early reports saying you had a $2 million bail over your head. Did you think you’d ever see the outside world again?
It looked bleak all the way to the end. I was supposed to get out on Monday [July 9] and they did some bullshit. The county went crazy. They had my people running around going crazy. [We] thought they had a vendetta against me. They acted like they ain’t want me to leave the spot. It was looking bleak [but] I made it to the end of tunnel. I’m feeling good, baby.
That must have been the most frustrating time in your life, right?
Hell yeah I was frustrated. I was locked in 21 hours a day. At the end of the day, I had to pray [and] get my mind right. Everything happens for a reason. My name got caught up in some shit [that] had nothing to do with me. But unfortunately, bad things happen when you surround yourself around the wrong type of people.
Are you still associated with some of those wrong people?
No, no, no… this is the new Bigavelli. The new Max B. I’m out taking care of this business and doing the damn thing. I’m around lawyers and corporate people now.
Were you upset Jim Jones didn’t bail you out sooner?
Jim came through. My family came through. My new manager came through. Everything worked out. Everybody came through; it was just a long process. But I’m back [and] it’s all love. We back family again. The Silver Surfer is back. The wave is mine.
During your incarceration, OnSmash.com showed DVD footage of you in a car with another individual who was degrading Jim Jones and The Diplomats. Was there ever any friction between you and Jim because of that?
I ain’t have nothing to do with that. I ain’t say nothing on that shit. That’s some shit that came out without my permission. [I] ain’t put that shit out. I ain’t put no stamp on that shit. Me and Jim ain’t got no problems. I’m letting the world know right now. Me and Jim do not have no problems. That’s my big brother. We about to get this money and get rich. I never shitted on Jim. You never heard nothing come out my mouth about that boy. That’s my nigga, B. You already know.
What the most valuable lesson you learned while serving your time?
One thing I learned is that everything [that] happens is predestined. God got it set up. I don’t control nothing, man. The man upstairs controls everything. I put God in my life. I pray a lot now [and] shit started happening for me, baby. Like I said, I learned to surround myself around the right type of people. If you around a bunch of niggas that ain’t about nothin’, that’s standing on the corner smoking sour [diesel] all day and you got a talent and you not utilizing it, you gon’ get caught up in the bullshit. I’m ’bout to really utilize the gift God gave me and make it happen. I’m ’bout to really go hard with this rap shit.
Did it ever sink in that your opportunity for stardom was nearly lost?
Hell yeah, it almost got took. They still trying to take it, but they ain’t gon’ do that. They tried to take it. God gave me another chance, dawg. I’m at three balls and two strikes. Bases are loaded. I gotta hit this homerun. The team needs me.
Were you separated from other inmates during your time?
I don’t PC [protective custody] it up. You can ask niggas about me. When I was in the three building [on Rikers Island] I was running through blowing sour [diesel] and making moves. I had the C.O. bitches bringing me booze and all that. I was doing my shit. I’ma street nigga to the end, but it’s time to make the transition.
Did you experience any jealously on the inside?
Niggas gon’ hate on me anyway. Yeah, I heard [there] was a lot of hate, like, “Why Jim ain’t getting you out?” I went through that shit my whole time. But I didn’t get caught up. That was the first couple months I was caught up in that shit. I don’t care about the hate. I ignore the hate. Hate me or love me, I don’t give a damn.
What was the first thing you did when you came home?
I held my baby boy and I was with the family for a lil’ minute. I went to work that night and I put it in. You already know I did about four joints that night, fresh out the can. Like I said, I wasn’t going hard, I wasn’t even taking my career serious before. Now I’m about to go take this serious.
So what steps are you taking now to further your career?
I got a single coming up, “Why You Do That.” I’m about to put some shit out. The album coming out in October, Reaping the Benefits. I’m about to do a mixtape, Out On Bail With a Story to Tell. We about to do another M.O.B. [Members of Byrdgang] mixtape—rest in peace to Stack Bundles.
Stack was murdered a few weeks before you were released and you weren’t able to make his funeral. How did you react when you heard of his passing?
That kid was a gift, man. We get caught up in this shit, man. It’s fucked up we had to lose one of the young brothers. That’s a sensitive topic with me. That was my boy. Like I said, rest in peace to Stack Bundles, God bless. I’ma keep his name alive as long as I’m on this Earth; as long as I’m riding this Byrdgang wave.