Beat-makers dream of instant success. But the first time the producer Paul Couture sent instrumentals to the veteran rapper Max B, the feedback he received was tepid. “Max didn’t like anything, none of it,” Couture says. At the time, “I was working on a reggae album, a pop album, and it was like, ‘hey if you have some beats for Max, send ’em.’ I just sent what I had without thinking about it.” The rapper’s reaction: “You know, Paul, that just ain’t it.”
Couture asked for a second chance. “I know you want it tomorrow, but give me a week,” the producer remembers saying. “I put together the next beat-pack of songs specifically made with Max in mind. The next call I got was, ‘I see it now! I get it!'”
Several of those beats surfaced on Friday when Max B released House Music. While the rapper is 41, the new seven-track collection is just the second official project of his career — the majority of Max B’s music came out via off-the-cuff mixtapes. The rapper’s career was temporarily derailed by a 2009 prison sentence that prevented him from releasing music, but he recently started recording again, and he is quietly inching back into the mainstream. Max B has amassed nearly 20 million streams this year in the U.S., according to the analytics company Alpha Data, and the House Money track “Champagne Wishes” received a coveted placement on the Spotify playlist New Music Friday.
House Money incorporates guest verses from a slew of New York rappers, youngsters (A Boogie wit da Hoodie, Dave East) as well as veterans (Cam’Ron), plus an appearance from the longtime Max B supporter Wiz Khalifa. Couture worked to conjure the feel of “late 1990s, early 2000s hip-hop” in “Ride on Em.” “I didn’t want to do anything trap-y, or sing-y,” the producer explains. “When Max did his verse, I just said, ‘you know who I would love to feature on this song? Jadakiss would kill this.’ They were like, ‘say no more.'” Jadakiss raps with his characteristic verve, adding hammering, gravelly lines.
On the other end of the musical spectrum is “Never Change,” a breezy cut featuring Khalifa. “Max loves live instruments as well,” Couture says. “Especially today it can be a little difficult to incorporate that into hip-hop, with everything being so boomy from the 808s. I love that shit too, but on ‘Never Change,’ we wanted that Seventies vibe.”
Max B plans to release a sequel to House Money in the new year.