Hey, not past it listeners this week.
We’ve got a special episode for you from the new season of conviction.
And this time around, they’re telling the story of a harlem rapper Max B, who’s on the cusp of stardom.
But his life changes when he hears about an irresistible score worth forty thousand dollars.
Now, Max like many other rappers of the time wrote songs about a life of luxury that he didn’t yet have but was determined to get Get through Max B’s story, conviction, examines the US justice system and questions, who the system works for and who it works against all episodes are out now.
So, go take a listen.
If you haven’t already not passed, it will be back next week with a brand new episode.
And until then, here’s conviction.
Episode one who’s 40 Grand, not tempting to.
The story I’m about to tell you is full of fucked up.
Decisions, cause-effect, chaos, and it starts here at the Lincoln playground.
Lincoln playground lies in New York City between Fifth Avenue in Madison Ave 135th Street.
It’s right in the heart of Harlem overlooked by housing projects on each side back in the mid-2000s.
A guy named Max became here a lot.
Max grew up in the neighborhood and he comes to the park to drink.
Talk shit and watch a local kids play basketball.
But in the summer of 2006, People had their eyes on Max be C-Max, was a rapper and in Harlem, he’d become a hood.
Celebrity, his face was on thousands of bootleg CDs that were bought and sold and they were passed around in barber shops.
And on street corners, I was in college.
At the time, I remember, buying Max’s tapes falling in love with this sound.
We all thought Max B was the next big thing that he was going to be a star.
But that’s not what happened because a different kind of opportunity was headed Max’s way something that persuaded him to risk his music career and his freedom to plan a robbery on the night of September 21st 2006.
Max was hanging out at the Lincoln playground and he heard about a score the way things lined up, it all seemed too easy.
Max was told that inside an empty hotel room in New Jersey.
There is a Louis Vuitton bag stuffed with cash.
It’s a simple robbery in and out.
No one needs to get hurt and there was something else that made the score seemed perfect.
Max wouldn’t even need to do anything himself instead.
He sent someone else to go and get the bag form.
The plan was Flawless on Max had to do.
Was sit back wait for the money to arrive, but of course it didn’t go down like that.
What did go down was a night of mayo and a plan that wasn’t meant to turn violent got badly out of hand and left a man dead, inside a New Jersey hotel room.
The first count of the indictment alleges, the crime of murder and specific.
Max be wasn’t anywhere near the robbery when it happened, but it was his plan and he was held accountable, did murder David Taylor, and I think more specifically, the he was charged with conspiracy to commit robbery, kidnapping, and Felony murder.
And at the end of the trial that grabbed headlines and went down in hip-hop history, Max be was sentenced to 75 years in prison.
He was 28 years old at the time of the verdict, and it looked like the that he died Behind Bars, you know, like, when your heart just go like this and his sinks inside of your chest.
So here, that he put 75 years, it was just like somebody saying, You don’t have nothing now, you know, like they, they try to own your coffin.
They don’t want to, they don’t want to see you die in jail.
They want to, they want to have your tombstone in there.
Let’s see 70 years or whatever it was, I my God.
But the smoke my boy, boots.
I remember this whole thing in folding I read about it online, talked about it in groups, X dissected with my friends.
No one seemed to know how so much could go so wrong.
I’ve been a hip-hop journalist for about 10 years now.
And in that time I thought about Max B story a lot.
I’ve always wanted to know what really happened that night.
Why does someone with so much talent, so much potential risk it all for a bag, full of cash and if Max wasn’t there, the night of the robbery Free.
How the fuck did he get 75 years?
my name is Brandon Jenkins and this is a conviction of Max B part one, who is 40 Grand, not tempting to Yo, hey Charlie, what’s up?
This is my producer.
David Fox talking to Charlie Wingate.
Thanks, Big, Valley, Hall a harlem bread.
Born and raised doing through.
Max is calling from Bayside State, Prison in New Jersey conversation with Max.
He took us back to the start.
Before that Louis Vuitton bag stuffed with cash change everything.
To when he was a kid growing up in the Lincoln projects, I grew up on a real rough Street.
A block was rough?
I grew up in that crack.
I will pass, I seen a lot, my mom’s a drug addicted to drugs.
There’s no doubt Max came apart.
But he still talks about his childhood with fondness as a kid.
He loved comic books and superheroes.
He loved music to and sang the local Boys Choir when he got a little older he started to develop other interests.
I was just a typical young through coming up me.
I like girls I like going out I like getting fly like smoking weed and shit.
That last Max bees laughs is kind of his signature talk to anyone about Max and they’ll tell you about his laughs.
He loved them.
As loves the laughs.
Everything just made him laugh.
He was just so full of laughter.
This is Lisa.
Overton Max’s, Auntie when he was growing up.
Max’s Mother wasn’t always around.
So he and Lisa were close.
She tried to look out for him, at least he remembers his conversation.
They had when he was a teenager She worried that her nephew lack Direction and she wanted to know what he was going to do with his life.
We had a big round table and we were all sitting there eating dinner and it was like okay boy what you going to do with yourself now, you just want to be all over the place.
Tell me what you want to do.
You got a plan?
He said, plain and simple.
Yes, I’m going to be a wrap on the be, a famous rapper, and I was like, oh, here we go with this silliness again.
He says, I’m going to bring it, I’m going to bring a new type of rap that is going.
To match the culture and was like, okay, if you say so son?
I mean, no, not at all.
I didn’t I didn’t at all because it’s like, you know, your kids tell you one minute, they want to be this, and then they want to be.
That Lisa was, right?
Max didn’t go out in his teens, become a famous rapper, instead started getting into trouble, We was running around robbing stores and she acting crazy and I was just young and stupid at this stupid shit.
And you know I got pulled up the thing that Max got caught up in was the robbery and when he was 18 years old, he went to prison for eight years while he was inside Max’s.
Dream of becoming a rapper resurfaced but this time it wasn’t just talk.
He started to write started to feel notepads with his observations on life in the street, in life.
In prison, I started writing verses and she kept doing the stuff with it.
Jeanette, kind of like helped me pass time.
You know, saying the way I used to make these to help me kill time.
I used to kind of put a whole show on the page so it was like it’s all looking like art to me.
So how was it?
You know, the first rapping was a form of therapy but later, Max started to think I can do this, I can be a rapper.
It was, during this time, Max Creed, his stage name, it was an amalgamation of the three greatest rappers to ever touch a mic.
The notorious b.i.g.
Jay Z AKA jigga and Tupac AKA Machiavelli.
He wanted to prison is Charlie Wingate, but he came out as Max big of Ellie or for sure.
Max be By the time you got out in 2005, Max, it already missed a good chunk of his 20s.
He didn’t want to miss any more.
Hip-hop seemed like his best shot at making something of himself.
But it wasn’t going to be easy far from it.
When I went home, I had to plan to get into the business.
I didn’t know anybody, I know connection.
So it was kind of frustrating and I almost went back to the streets when I came home.
You know I’m saying?
Someone helped him get his foot in the door, someone with connections.
So we hit up an old friend from the neighborhood Mike Bruno.
So when he came home, he was always telling me like, yo, man, I’m gonna make you rich.
I’m nice man.
Mike knew people in the music industry and Max kept telling him, he wanted to be a rapper.
Now, But Mike was skeptical.
I couldn’t believe it knowing Charlie to be a jokester comedian.
I couldn’t really call late the to being the same.
You understand what I’m saying?
So, when Max was telling me that I’m like, okay, okay good, but, you know, I’m not blushing them off because that’s my friend, but it just went through one ear and out the other, Max knew he was gonna have to put in work to convince Mike Bruno and everyone else that he was serious about rap.
So max took his notepad full of lyrics recorded, some demos, got them burn to a CD and Brought them to Mike.
He was pushing me for about maybe two weeks.
Did you listen to her?
You know, we are always smoke.
I might give him a couple of hours to see him later, something like that.
We always listen to my, listen to it Max.
So one day we was chilling, smoking.
Me, and my friend.
We was on the corner right there, 40th, and Max came through.
It was like, I got to see the man.
You need to listen to it.
You like, not you my man and you got that swag.
You got that all of us together will take over the world, man.
Listen to a man, I’m gonna make you rich.
Max was persistent.
He just wouldn’t let up and eventually Mike figured fuck it.
Let me see what he can do.
So I threw the CD in the car I was blown away.
I was amazed like my antennas went off.
I was like oh my God like this kid.
He is Like special like for really the kind of took my breath away.
Like yo this kid really talented in the more and more.
I start hearing them before I really said, you know what, I’m going to present it to somebody and see what we could take this.
I just fell in love with his music and I realize he was a really musical genius limes can write R and be like, he just was very talented.
It lasts Mike took Max seriously.
He decided that he was going to introduce him to a rap crew one that dominated the airwaves and dictated rap culture in the mid-2000s that crew was called, dipset dipset.
It’s that for me personally was like they were like to meet Harlem’s boy band Marissa Mendez versus a music journalist now but back in dips its Heyday she was a fan I really was a huge fan of them and I had been a boy band kid so to transition and Dipset was just like.
Now these guys are at they above, they had the fashion and they had the music and they had the swag in the fun.
Dips its debut, album diplomatic immunity went gold.
They were more than just hoodstarz people everywhere.
Listen to their music, including me, and my bedroom in New Jersey tips.
It across over into the mainstream, you can see their influence everywhere but it wasn’t just about the music.
They’ve said, hadn’t steady, oversized jeans, triple XL, sports jerseys, Air Force Ones, bandanas fitted caps with brims solo.
You couldn’t see anything, Was eyebrows.
And of course, the whole crew is iced out all the dips that members had the same chain with a massive.
Diamond studded Medallion the bald eagle with its wings spread out wide and it’s talents holding two guns.
If you were in Dipset, you got this chain.
I used to be obsessed with that chain.
Having one seemed like the rap equivalent of becoming a made man but I wasn’t the only one Max be wanted into.
He wanted the fame the adulation in that eagle chain and it turns out Mike Bruno knew someone who can make an introduction and get Max next to Dipset.
Well I first heard about him, I guess my man Mike Bruno.
He went to made Mike Bruno went to high school together with me.
Jim Joe Jones who went to high school.
Same high school and he bought them around.
This is Duke to God from the legendary crew to Dipset.
Diplomat records, you know, and all producer artist everything, the whole package Duke says, they were Max first started coming around and hanging out in the studio with Dipset.
He stood out like who is this new kid?
Like you know, I’m saying, like he’s doing things that’s like different first off.
Max be had a look.
That was different.
He had long hair, the heat straightened and War slicked-back pencil-thin mustache and he wore tank tops.
Huge sunglasses and baggy jeans.
He looked like a throwback, like a 70s pimp, but hip-hop.
And then there was a sound that was different to Max.
Could wrap go bar for bar with anyone in Dipset but when it came to the hooks his voice would suddenly change in those Gravely, Punchy wraps would vanish and Max B would burst into song.
The first time a bigger audience heard Maxis unique, sound was on a song called baby girl that dropped in July of 2005 songs by Jim Jones.
One of dips, its key members, but Max stole the show when he delivered the chorus.
Baby girl was a big hit and got a lot of radio play that summer.
Max was now a Dipset affiliate and people were starting to pay attention but I was singing all the songs you know I’m saying.
And with that Melodies and and doing that, nobody was really moving like that.
So it was just different, you know, I mean, you know, it was just some, some different different vibe.
Like, like, what is this?
You know, say Dukes right back then.
No one was singing and definitely, no one Dipset.
That that would be Max’s secret weapon.
The thing that made a sound stand out.
But Not only was a singing different.
Max sang was different too.
Here’s Marissa Mendez.
Talking to my producer.
Does does Max be singing chin though?
No, not really.
And I think that’s what made it dope.
Because how could this not be in tune?
But yet sound so good, you know and like he had real Hood, dudes crooning these things that he’s crooning.
You know, and he was not a good see wasn’t great at it but it just I think it was that aura the same way that it it shines in person, it shined on me and music to it was just something about it.
Guy coming out of prison and trying to reinvent himself, as a rapper, is kind of a cliche hip-hop Trope.
But for Max it looked like it might actually happen.
The sound wasn’t for everyone, but it was unique.
Max didn’t sound like anyone else.
And no one sounds anything like Max B.
Marissa Mendez met Max, not long after he started being featured on Dipset records, the pair became friends and Marissa explain that as she got to know him.
She saw how much match was enjoying his second chance, after getting out of prison?
When he just was always in his own world, he would always have his shades on and he was just always happy.
And like, you could just tell this man was so happy to be there.
And so happy to be like, living this new life that he had come into, and he was Going to take everything, like, take every moment for what it is and really like being in the moment and really live it up and I can definitely say that Max did not miss a moment to live his life at all.
There’s this famous line in The Godfather Part 3.
Even if you haven’t seen the movie, you probably know it.
Al Pacino’s character The Crime Boss, Michael Corleone has been trying to go legit.
Just never works.
And he says, just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in at this moment.
Max look like he was out but something was about to pull him back in.
That’s after the break.
I want to tell you about how Louis Vuitton bag stuffed with cash entered.
Max B’s world and set in motion, a freight train, a fucked-up decisions around, early September of 2006, the guy named Alan plowden gets into his brand-new white, Mercedes Benz, and points at North plowden as a long.
Drive ahead of him from his home in North Miami to New York City.
It’s about 20 hours.
Ride that whines 28 States over 1,000 miles but really he has no idea.
What’s ahead of him.
Alan plowden is economy.
He runs a phoneme orchids game, it’s not the crime of the century, but it works on the Drive.
North, he picks up his partner, David Taylor, the plan is to get to New York.
Keep the con going Have a little fun while they’re at it, so they snake their way up the East Coast.
Until finally, the New York skyline rears up in front of them, when he gets to the city cloud and starts withdrawing cash from ATM machines, the proceeds of the mortgage scam, he’s got about 40 Grand on him, he stuffed into his black, Louis Vuitton bag the bag that’s at the center of this story.
Then plowed and tailored by BMW.
And they go to a body shop to get their cars, tricked out after that, they had to Harlem and Alan plowden goes to a Golden Crust.
The chain of restaurants that serve Caribbean food Cross the street cloud and sees a woman pay attention to her.
She’s going to be very important.
This woman is waiting around.
She’s alone after he’s done, eating Alan plowed and approaches her and introduces himself.
Her name is Gina Conway, but here’s the thing, plowed and doesn’t know.
Gina Conway has a boyfriend and his name is Max B.
In Max is about to find out all about Alan clouded his bag full of money.
One of the things that gets people about the story is why someone on the cusp of Fame would ever get involved in a robbery to steal a bag of cash if you’re affiliated with Dipset.
Why do that?
Well, the truth is in the early part of his music career.
It appears that the money wasn’t rolling in, for Max, be back in the mid-2000s.
The music industry was in a state of flux.
CD sales were beginning to decline.
People were just starting to put music on the internet.
By the end of the decade CDs would be on their way to landfills, Across America and streaming sites.
Like the one you’re listening on now would be the best way to listen to music.
But when Max was getting started in 2005, New York had its own thing going on its own seeing that function on the margins of the industry.
A space filled with samples that were never cleared, beats that were never licensed.
A space that was entirely illegal.
The classic hiphop mixtape, it could be of an artist music which it is most likely but it’s your other artists music mixed with your music.
You know I’m saying, you know, you give it a cover, you know, you talk shit on it, you know, saying that people know what time it is, we from let niggas for your energy on it, and if you’re lucky people want to buy it Duke, the guy Duke sold a lot of Maxis mixtapes Max, we may have been a Dipset affiliate and he appeared on a few of their songs.
They never had a real record contract, a real deal with the major player like Atlantic or Interscope or Columbia.
So this was how he had to put out most of his music.
The Shadow industry where songs were recorded over.
Other people’s beats CDs were burned and then distributed across the country.
Hand-to-hand, you go to like a kind of like a hood record store like that, you know, some maybe some boiled egg has had tapes but mostly it was just guys with backpacks.
Hip-hop journalist, Angel dies for what it’s worth.
I bought my mixtapes the same way as Angel did to 45 bucks out of some dudes backpack and they would just, you know, walk around and going to like the barbershops.
It was essentially, the barbershops is where you was getting the mixing tank during this time because guys would just have like backpacks full of like hit, they’ll have that don’t have like the the locks mixtapes, the magaz, be the Jim Jones, all this shit and don’t have porn.
And they’ll have like they’ll have a movies too.
And she like that.
Max originally started appearing on the mixtape.
Seen as part of a group called bird gang a group of Dipset Affiliated rappers.
And producers in 2006.
He drops his debut.
Mixtape Million Dollar Baby, the cover art features Max with a hundred dollar bills.
Cascading around him.
He’s wearing a diamond studded chain and throwing up a gang sign.
Money and bling was a recurring Motif on the record song titles included getting this money.
Gotta love the way we floss and the title track Million Dollar Baby.
But the trouble was, even though Max is rapping about money, that didn’t mean he was making any because that was the thing with mixtapes.
They can make you hot, but they won’t make you rich.
The reason was simple, the people who made money off the tapes, weren’t the ones who made the tapes, it was whoever sold them did, but do you divide the, the money you get with our Ester.
You basically use.
Keep it my producer.
Matt Nelson with Duke to God.
Well, Learn about us making revenue and me having to pay the audits for the mixtape.
I don’t know.
That was that would have been crazy.
So for every $5 at a fan shelled out for a copy of the latest Max be tape guys.
Like Duke would pocket the cash Max wouldn’t get his scent.
It’s just the way it was.
For an artist, the best outcome on a mixtape was to catch a bus.
And then if you were lucky, you could convert that buzz into cash by playing shows, being featured on another artist record, or maybe even getting a deal with a major label.
But the truth was that even though the cover art of Max B’s mixtapes projected an image of wealth and power.
The reality was very different Chris look, so that disconnect first hand back in the mid-2000s, Chris was an A&R for Dipset.
And when you heard about Max, be the rapper with the croaky Voice, who sang his own hooks, he was intrigued, he had music out musically before I got over there, but Max, it was like, he was new on the scene and not a lot of people really knew who he would even was, but me, I’m one of those people who’s that guy on the hook, who’s the guy or nothing.
I mean, I’m trying to figure out who these different people are.
So then one of my main things was like, yo where’s this guy Max be, I’ll never see this.
This guy, Max be, I haven’t ever eventually.
Chris got the chance to meet Max and the guy expected to meet.
Was it figure from the cover of the Million Dollar Baby mixtape?
The Hustler flush with cash.
That didn’t happen.
I remember I met Max one night and this was like, it was like a rude awakening for me, because it was right on the side of Madison Square Garden and I had to meet him somewhere and they pulled up and like an old Honda Prelude.
Really right to door.
Honda Prelude something like that.
That was like a wicked it for me, you know, I’m expecting him to pull up in the bins or BMW or seven.
Is it a shitty car?
Is it fair to say?
I’m going to say it’s a shitty car but it’s a regular hood.
You going to see that coming down any block out.
You know, you’re going to see that coming out any black hole because people drive some real cars out there.
So it’s like You look like yeah, it’s just getting coffee.
Won’t put it to the Standish.
So that was the rude, awakening that first, like I saw the difference kind of between him and Jim like Jim really had it Max wasn’t there just yet.
You feel me.
Chris is talking about Jim Jones, the wrapper from Dipset the it that Jim had was a life that matched.
The one he showed off in the Dipset music videos, his chains were real, he owned a fancy sports car and by the mid-2000s, Jim Jones is a powerful player in the music industry.
Max wanted the same things.
So we kept grinding kept doing shows stayed in the studio, working on a sound and eventually around 2006.
It was really starting to happen for him that summer, Max appeared on another mixtape, Mo be members of bird gang on the cover.
He’s next to Jim Jones.
Jim has a fat chain around his neck, in Max’s, Gucci shades on song, titles included.
Cars money on my mind, and we fly high.
But this point Max is starting to gain more notoriety.
And his music is spreading from the bodegas and barber shops in New York and New Jersey.
It’s moving across the country state to state And Max is on the move to he starts playing live shows across the u.s.
It’s a one of these shows in North Carolina that Max B meets a woman.
Her name is Gina Conway.
Max and Gina hit it off.
They hit it off so well that she leaves her life in North Carolina to be with Max, in New York.
Later Gene is going to be a key player in the robbery, but for now, the point is that Max is on the rise and people are paying attention.
I remember, looking on the internet, my sister said, did you see your nephew?
I said, no, Lisa, Overton Max’s, auntie.
And so, the kids were like, yeah, Mom, everybody knows who he is, and he, and then I said, okay, everybody know who he is.
And they had all of his songs and stuff right on the corner where I live.
Of that in the Record Shop.
They had his dad, all his songs.
I was like, okay, well, Lisa was proud of her nephew.
He wasn’t top of the Billboard charts yet, but he done all the shit.
He said, he do all those years ago at her dinner table, he was now making a career for himself in music and more.
Importantly, he’d stayed out of trouble.
A little while later, he said decided to pair nephew a visit In this time, when Max pulled up, he wasn’t rolling around in his shitty, Honda Prelude.
It was a lot of change.
It was a lot of change from the outside as well as from the inside.
And when I saw him with these big coochie glasses on and this billion dollar belt, with all of this glitter in it and all of these stones and him with a, he’s the first person who taught me.
What a beamer was like Auntie, I want to take you for a ride in my bhima, which is a BMW, a car was black on black.
It was like, the Knight Rider.
You got in it lit up and it had all the functions to it.
And nobody had a car like that.
So, it was like everything, the lighting, he had the panel, we had all kind of buttons and Screen, you know, stuff that we never seen before.
And so he had everything inside of this.
Car and I was excited for him.
I was happy that he was happy.
He said watch Max grew up, watch them fuck up to go away for eight years for robbery when he was just a kid.
So this was a big moment, she was proud but Lisa was worried too worried that despite the flashy cars and The Jewels Max wasn’t far away from another fuck up.
When he drove me to the Goon Squad, I was like that made me like, okay, that the Goon Squad.
What you just have, all of these fake friends and hang around buddies, and can I get a blunt?
And when I saw that, I was like, oh, I got nervous, I was like, oh my gosh, what’s going to happen with my baby?
Because you know what?
That come with all that stuff, you know?
Not everybody is bad, but not everybody is good.
And when you start going up, the very people you around.
I’m the ones who hate you.
They just know how to secretly do it.
You know, they know how to pretend, but, like I said, when we got, when he pulled up and I saw all of those homeboys and I was like, oh God, please Lord.
Have mercy on my nephew.
Lisa says that after meeting Max’s friends, they kept driving and he took me to Popeyes and he got me a big box of chicken to take upstairs.
He said, I’m coming right back.
And I never saw him no more after that.
He said I’m going to pick up some money.
I got to go get some money and I’ll be back to you but you know things happened and I never saw him no more after that.
So Lisa didn’t see your nephew again because a couple of months after they drove around Harlem together, Max got into trouble, big trouble, Alan plowden, David Taylor, arrived in the neighborhood and plowden had that Louis Vuitton bag stuffed with cash next Max’s, girlfriend, Gina Conway, told him all about that bag and that night on September 21st, and Lincoln playground, Max be decided that the bundles of cash were just too tempting.
And he had to get his hands on that money. 40 Grandeur.
Who’s 40 Grand on tempting to how much money you have to have for 40 Grand is not be tempting to you.
And from there, everything went to shit.
And then Charlie told you to go with shims to go.
Rob J is 0.
What, in essence, what?
He told you, yes, I said they bring the money, bring the money, bring the money.
Next time on the conviction of Max, be the bad plan, a botched robbery, and a dead body.
The conviction of Max B is a Spotify original podcast and gimlet production.
This episode was produced by Heather Rogers and Matthew Nelson.
Our producers are Ali-A Yates, David Fox, Chris Denari, and the chin and mathilde or foligno are supervising producers.
Matthew Nelson, our editor is Brendan klingenberg additional editing by Caitlin, Kenny additional reporting and editing by Elias, light fact-checking by Nicole, Ahsoka, original music scoring sound design and mixing by Catherine, Anderson additional engineering and original music by Lonnie row music, supervision by Liz volton, special.
Thanks to make Driscoll all the episodes of this season of conviction are available.
Now, you’ll find the next episode on the conviction, show page, it follows so you don’t miss any bonus content.
My name is Brandon Jenkins.
I’ll see you next episode.