I’ve been struggling for years to write this letter. Your music has touched me in ways I never expected it to, but how do I bridge the connection between a white Jewish kid from the Upper West Side and an ‘80s baby from Harlem? How do I justify reaching out? Where’s the connection?
I was a junior in high school when I discovered your music. It was 2008 and a certain message board had a thread called The Wavement that stretched for thousands of pages. The thread was dedicated to you and your music, but more immediately, the long-delayed release of Coke Wave, which finally came in February 2009. (Thank you for making that happen.)
When I discovered the Wavement, I’d only seen your name here and there without peeping your music. So I downloaded Public Domain 3 to see what all the hype was about. I was sober, and I didn’t get it. I was listening to a lot of Kid Cudi at the time. Please forgive me.
But something about PD3 stuck with me, and a couple days later I spun it again, this time with a bag of haze (we didn’t have a sour connect at the time). I’ll never forget hearing “I walk the streets alone…” and then that beat drop on “Picture Me Rollin.” You and Young Los made magic together. By the time the chorus hit I was hanging out of my apartment window, singing my heart out to the streets. I was converted in an instant.
I put my best friend onto your music, and you immediately replaced Curren$y as our favorite rapper at the time. We used to speed up the West Side Highway to school, blasting “Stake Sause” with all four windows down. We didn’t even care if we crashed. Your music took us to another place, above the clouds. It made us happy to be alive. It made us very aware of being alive.
You made a song for every mood. We had girls in school who wanted to fuck, but we weren’t with it, so we played “Friends.” We woke up and puffed every single morning before class, so we played “Every Morning.” When I think back on things I’ve done in my life that I never want to repeat, I play “I Never Wanna Go Back,” but that song makes me so blue when I think about where you are now.
I’m writing because I want to tell you how important your music was to me, how important it continues to be. When I feel like shit, I play your songs, and my troubles fade into the background for awhile. My children will grow up with your music, your humor, your charm. Your whole aura could never be duplicated.
New York misses you more than ever. Your influence is as embedded as the potholes in the street. Now throwaway artists are jacking your style and trying to ride the wave you created so many years ago. Real ones see through it. You are the last great rap artist to come out of New York. That’s not an opinion; that’s known fact.
I’m writing this to you on your birthday, and though you’ll read it days after, maybe you can celebrate a “birthday week” like some women I know. I hope it’s not too hard for you in prison. I listened to your phone interview about Chinx. I’m sorry for your loss. I don’t know that words can remedy the death of a close friend, but I pray you aren’t suffering too badly.
I know what it’s like to feel like a king, and I know what it’s like to be depressed. I think I connected to your music because you painted the whole range of human emotions in your work. Listening to you is like talking with a friend. You make me feel at ease with life when everything around me goes to shit. I could never thank you enough for that.
You are a legend in modern music. Your influence stretches beyond the five boroughs. Today, and every day, I thank you for your work. I wouldn’t be the same person without it. The music you’ve made will never die. Stay strong.
Check out these official Max B playlists on Spotify for a comprehensive look at his catalog:
Max B Best Of (Greatest Solo Hits) (103 songs)
Max B Best Of (Gain Greene Coke Wave) (136 songs)
Max B Best Of (Byrd Gang Edition) (89 songs)