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May 21, 1978
|Criminal status||Incarcerated at East Jersey State Prison|
|Criminal charge||Murder conspiracy and robbery|
|Rapper, singer, songwriter|
Charles Wingate (born May 21, 1978), better known by his stage name Max B (short for Max Biggavelli), is an American rapper. He is best known for his solo Public Domain and Million Dollar Baby series of mixtapes, and introducing the term "wavy" as a slang in popular lexicon.
He made his mixtape debut in 2006, and signed a recording deal with fellow Harlem-based rapper Jim Jones' label/group ByrdGang. Following a streak of financial and ethical grievances, Max B parted ways with Jones in 2008. The two became embroiled in a bitter feud which pitted Jones and his associates on one side, and Max B and his affiliates on the other. Max B is closely associated with producer Dame Grease, and fellow rapper French Montana where the two collaborated on the Coke Wave mixtape series.
In mid 2009, he was sentenced to 75 years in prison on conspiracy charges pertaining to armed robbery, kidnapping, aggravated assault and felony murder. While in prison, he secured a deal with Amalgam Digital to publish his debut album Vigilante Season which was released in 2011. As of September 16, 2016 it has been announced that Max B has taken a 20-year plea bargain for aggravated manslaughter and is set to be released November 9, 2025.
Max B was born Charly Wingate on May 21, 1978 and raised in New York City. His mother, Sharon Wingate, the eldest of eight siblings, had battled with substance abuse for most of her life and eventually served a year and a half in prison for her crack addiction. Charly was largely raised by his grandparents. According to his mother, his grandmother taught Charly her strong religious values from a young age. As a child, he was friends with future rapper and Dipset founder Cam'ron. He grew up with music in the household, and had sung in the Boys Choir of Harlem. Despite his grandmother's best efforts, Charly was heavily influenced by the streets, and at the age of 18, began serving a sentence for robbery in 1997. Wingate went on to serve 8 years in prison, before being released in 2005. Following his release, he immediately began purusing a career in music, choosing the stage name Max B. The "B" being shorthand for Biggaveli, a portmanteau referencing The Notorious B.I.G. ("Biggie Smalls"), Jay-Z ("Jigga") and Tupac Shakur ("Makaveli"). According to Wingate, his love for rap music came from his deceased brother, Eric, who left him collections of cassettes while he went in and out of town.
Max B entered the industry spotlight through his affiliation with The Diplomats, in particular Cam'ron who was a childhood friend of his. Cam'ron introduced Max to Jim Jones, who would then go on to found ByrdGang in 2006 with Max B as a starring member, with Stack Bundles, Mel Matrix and lady Jha Jha. By 2008, Max B had left ByrdGang amid his allegations he had been forced into a contract which offered him inadequate pay and no recognition of his artistic contributions which included writing hooks, verses and melodies for Jim Jones during their stint. He alleges he was paid $300 for live shows where Jones earned in the range of $10,000-15,000.
In 2005, Max B appeared as a feature on various records, including "G's Up" and lead single "Baby Girl" off of Jones' sophomore album Harlem: Diary of a Summer released in August. He appeared as a feature on "You Gotta Love It" off of Cam'ron's Killa Season album released in May 2006, and released his debut mixtape Million Dollar Baby the same month. Max B collaborated on the ByrdGang mixtape M.O.B. (Members of ByrdGang) released on July 7, and made several feature appearances on Jones' mixtape The 7 Day Theory released on September 27.
In 2006, Max B became embroiled in legal trouble when he was arrested on September 29 in connection to a botched robbery turned homicide that occurred in Fort Lee, New Jersey, allegedly involving his "on-again off-again girlfriend" Gina Conway and step-brother Kevin Leerdem. While away, Max B had already recorded several feature appearances on Jim Jones' third album Hustler's P.O.M.E. which was released in November. In addition to writing for Jones on other tracks, most notably its lead single and Jones' highest-charting single to date "We Fly High" which was released on October 21.
Max B's second solo mixtape Public Domain: Million Dollar Baby Radio was released on November 2 while the rapper remained behind bars. Notable tracks off the record include "Deez My Streets" and "Dom Perignon" among others. Followed by his third mixtape Public Domain 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer released in December of that year. Notable tracks off the record include "Blow Me A Dub" and "De La Soul" among others. Both mixtapes were hosted by Connecticut-based veteran DJ Big Mike, whom Max would develop an extensive relationship with throughout his career.
After having spent 10 months imprisoned, Max B was released on July 11, 2007 on a reported $2 million in bail. Short of funds, portion of Max's bond was raised by selling his publishing over to his label owned by Jim Jones. It would eventually go on to become one of many grievances and disputes Max would share with his former labelmate and head Jim Jones. Max B's fourth mixtape Public Domain: The Prequel was released later in the month following his release from prison. He appeared as a feature on Styles P's "Holiday" off of his third album released on December 4. Max B collaborated on the MOB2 (Members of ByrdGang 2) mixtape released on October 20, and had written for Jones' digital album which came out on February 19 the following year.
Exactly one month prior to Max's release, on June 11, his friend Stack Bundles had been killed in his neighborhood of Far Rockaway, Queens. In a 2009 interview before his trial, Max expressed his loss stating, "That was fucked up because the nigga Stacks was close to me, I ain't even gonna front. I was in jail at the time, so a nigga was sitting. A nigga learned to cope with that thing pretty well though, R.I.P. to Stacks. Shout out to my nigga, he played me all the joints he had. Man, that was my nigga."
By 2008, Max B had left ByrdGang and publicly distanced himself from the "Dipset" movement. He had begun concentrating on his own rap collective named Gain Greene which included members Al Pac, Mak Mustard and Scarlett O'Harlem. He began associating with South Bronx rapper French Montana, then best known as the founder/host of the "street DVD" series Cocaine City, and who shared a similarly bitter history with Jim Jones. The two collaborated on their first song together "Waavvyy" off of French's sophomore tape Live From Africa released on April 29. Max also developed a close relationship with Boston rappers Mall G and T.P., Connecticut rapper Hollywood Fergie, and G-Unit's Tony Yayo.
On March 1, Max B released his first solo project since his departure from ByrdGang, his fifth mixtape Million Dollar Baby 2. Notable tracks off the record include "Why You Do That" and "Sexy Love" among others. Hosted by New York-based Mexican-Belgian female DJ Lazy K, the two then released his sixth mixtape Million Dollar Baby 2.5 on June 7. Notable tracks off the record include "Won't Go Far" and "She Touched It In Miami".
Max B released his seventh mixtape Public Domain 3 on June 10, hosted by veteran DJ Whoo Kid. The record became a significant mark of Max's independence, including scathing references towards his former partner turned rival Jim Jones. Notable tracks off the record include "Picture Me Rolling", "Lip Sing", "Ready To Ride", and "Paperwork" featuring Al Pac.
On July 21, Max B released his eighth mixtape Wavie Crockett. Notable tracks off the record include "Gotta Have It" and "Takin' Pictures" among others. With the popularity of his mixtapes, he had embarked on his first tour to the West Coast earlier in the year. The fourth installation in his flagship "Public Domain" series, Domain Diego was released on July 28, with a significant portion of the record having been recorded in San Diego, California during his trip. Notable tracks off the record include "Try Me" and "I'm So High" among others. On October 1, he released his tenth mixtape Goon Music 1.5: The Doomship. Notable tracks off the record include "Free Al Pac", "I Wasn't There" and "Cops Come Runnin".
Following his departure from ByrdGang, Max B engaged in a bitter feud with Jim Jones alongside fellow rapper French Montana. According to interviews, French and Max shared a common group of friends and associates. However, due to French's existing problems with Jim Jones, and Max being signed to his ByrdGang at the time, the two had yet to collaborate. This would soon change as the two became embroiled in one of the more infamous street beefs in New York hip hop.
According to Max B, his beef with Jones stems from his allegations he was forced into a contract which offered him inadequate pay and no recognition of his contributions which included writing hooks, verses and melodies for Jim Jones during their stint together. He also alleges he was paid $300 for live shows where Jones earned in the range of $10-15,000. In his infamous interview on The Come Up Vol. 18 (2008), he confirmed having delivered "10 albums" worth of material to Jones to fulfill the terms of his contract.
In the case of French Montana, his beef with Jim Jones had begun earlier. Albeit also attributed to Jones' disdain towards French for the infamous footage in Cocaine City Vol. 4 (2006), depicting Jones and his Dipset crew being beaten and driven-out during a brawl in Rucker Park, by the Brooklyn-based Junior MAFIA associated with the late Notorious BIG. According to French, his personal problems with Jones stems from his claims that Jones was publicly insinuating having a hand with the people responsible for a shooting targeting French. In a 2009 interview with VladTV, French claimed that Jones - by then well known for his numerous feuds and provocations - was using the late-2003 incident to increase his reputation in the streets.
By the time Max B left ByrdGang in 2008, Jim Jones had garnered a streak of feuds with rappers, ranging from Junior MAFIA to would-be Jay-Z affiliate Tru Life. Tru Life had already appeared in various interviews, including one on Cocaine City Vol. 8 (2007) showing off two Dipset chains he claimed to have snatched off of Jones. Max B's affiliation with French and their mutual beef with Jim Jones was a very public one - resulting in numerous back-and-forth "diss" videos, interviews, confrontations and accusations - which appeared on street DVDs such as Cocaine City, Smack, Come Up, Sub-0, as well as websites such as HipHopBeef.com and WorldStarHipHop.com which were just beginning to gain a foothold. The feud also involved Jim Jones affiliate Hell Rell, and at differing points of time various rappers from Dipset or ByrdGang close to Jones.
On February 5, 2009, Max B and French Montana would go on to release their debut collaborative mixtape Coke Wave, and which included productions from Dame Grease, Young Los and J. Cardim. The run up to which was marred by tension and confrontation between the feuding sides. Notable bits from the series of back-and-forth videos include, French and Max B mocking Hell Rell's standing in relation to Jones, and Rell firing back; Max B's allegations of infidelity by Jones' wife Chrissy; Max B recalling an off-camera altercation with Jones in the street in late 2008; footage of French and Max's crew confronting Jones at his Manhattan studio followed by a standoff with police in November (Cocaine City Vol. 12); and an attempted reprisal against Max B by ByrdGang leading to a brawl at a club in Brooklyn in January 2009.
Together with his producers Dame Grease and Young Los, newfound partner French Montana, and mixtape DJ's Big Mike and Lazy K, Max B had garnered a sizeable underground movement that pushed his music online and throughout the North Eastern region. Particularly noteworthy since, throughout their stint Max B and French would allege being "blackballed" by radio and media. In a September 25, 2008 video on WSHH, they would go on to accuse Jim Jones for using his influence to further dissuade labels and websites from covering the rappers.
As a response to being blackballed, the two would rely on grassroots and online methods of promotion. French Montana - who had a background in Cocaine City - and Max B, would utilize outlets such as street DVDs and hip hop websites to promote themselves and their respective projects. Since the early-2000s, street DVDs had emerged as a lucrative underground medium providing a "behind the scenes" look into the business and politics of major and upcoming rappers. By the late 2000s, websites such as WSHH and others would take on the same spot; consequently, marking the decline of street DVDs as an outdated and non-lucrative format.
Another tactic was to release a flood of music/mixtapes. In 2008 alone, Max B had released over half a dozen mixtapes. The Coke Wave mixtape, and its sequel Coke Wave 2, were accompanied by DVD films which included music videos, in-studio footage, skits, and videos revolving around their beef with background commentary.Coke Wave 2, in addition to the Take A Look Into My Life DVD, which were released subsequent to Max B's sentencing, further included footage related to his trial and commentary on his legal situation. French would touch on the subject of having been blackballed in a number of interviews following his mainstream breakout. In a 2012 interview from prison, Max B touched on the subject noting,
I was completely blackballed, my songs on the radio. I couldn't help myself but I was always able to help French do what he wanted to do [...] if I had to blow trial, at least I know a n**ga out there holding it down [...] I'm talking to French; we communicate a couple times a week [...] he real wavy right now.
In June 2008, Max B had signed a three-album deal with independent record label Amalgam Digital. Soon after, however, they would be prevented by Jim Jones' legal team from making any commercial releases of Max's music. This would continue until May 2010, a year after Max B was sentenced, where in a lawsuit victory a New York City judge ruled that Jones no longer had rights over the now-incarcerated rapper's music. Thereby allowing Amalgam to release his debut album Vigilante Season. The project which was recorded in 2008, and originally intended to be released sometime after Public Domain 3, was finally released on March 22, 2011. Notable songs from Vigilante Season include "Money Make Me Feel Better", "Where Do I Go" and "Lord Is Tryna Tell Ya Something" among others.
The first half of 2009, would be Max B's last as a free man. Following the release of his eleventh mixtape Coke Wave on February 5, he released his twelfth mixtape Quarantine on February 21 later that month. The fifth installation in his flagship "Public Domain" series, notable tracks off Quarantine include "I Ain't Tryna", "All My Life", "Don't Love Hoes", and "DJ Saved My Life" featuring Mak Mustard.
On June 4, Max B was sentenced to 75 years in prison, found guilty on 9 of 11 counts in the case involving himself, Gina Conway and Kevin Leerdam. Based on the testimony of Conway, he is accused of conspiring the event, and will be eligible for parole in 2042. Conway was sentenced to 18 years, and Leerdam was sentenced to life in prison.
Following his verdict, his fourteenth mixtape Million Dollar Baby 3 was released on June 30. His fifteenth mixtape and sixth installment in his "Public Domain" series, PD6: Walking The Plank, was released on July 12. Notable tracks off the record include "Dead Solver", "Never Wanna Go Back", "Letter To Stack Bundles", and "What You Want From Me" featuring Beanie Sigel and French Montana. His collaborative mixtape Coke Wave 2 with French was released on November 3, 2009.
Albeit in prison since June 2009, Max B has been featured on various artists' records, utilizing preexisting recordings or through phoned-in verses and messages from prison. A collaborative mixtape titled Dopeman with fellow Gain Greene rapper Mak Mustard was released on April 4, 2010. A collaborative mixtape A Wave Called Yes with Amalgam labelmate Young Riot was released on May 26. The record contained two collaborative tracks featuring Curren$y who had signed to Amalgam in 2009, having had the opportunity to work with Max during his final months before his sentencing. In 2012, Isaiah Toothtaker released a collaborative mixtape called Toothy Wavy which featured phoned-in verses from Max B, and production by The Hood Internet. When Kanye West's album was scheduled to be named Waves, Max B (originator of the wave), expressed approval of the name change. He called in the Breakfast Club and said "It's all love. I appreciate it." In 2016, a phone conversation with Kanye West was featured on the track "Siiiiiiiiilver Surffffeeeeer Intermission" from West's 7th studio album, The Life of Pablo.
According to authorities, Max sent his ex-girlfriend, Gina Conway, and his stepbrother Kelvin Leerdam, in 2006 to rob two men in a Holiday Inn, in Fort Lee, Northern New Jersey. On September 22, 2006, Conway and Leerdam ambushed Allan "Jay" Plowden in room 408 and restrained him with duct tape, while awaiting Plowden's partner, David Taylor. Also in the room was Gissele Nieven. When Taylor arrived, he was immediately shot, point-blank, execution-style, in the head. He did not have any money on him.
The crew fled the scene, Plowden then alerted the hotel front desk of the murder. As police entered the room, Plowden was caught moving $30,000 out of the room. Plowden was later charged with money laundering and identity theft. One week later Conway, Leerdam and coordinator Max B were apprehended and charged.
On January 9, 2007 Max B was remanded to Bergen County Jail in New Jersey on a $2 million bail.
Max B was later sentenced to 75 years in prison on September 4, 2009. His mother, Sharon Wingate, and fellow rap artist French Montana said he plans to appeal his conviction. On March 19, 2010, Max B was granted an appeal with a new trial and lawyer.
In February 2012, rumors spread that Max's request for an appeal had been denied, but it since has been cleared up as an internet/blog/Twitter rumor.
On August 30, 2012, Max's appeal was denied and he is set to remain in prison to finish his 75-year incarceration.
On September 16, 2016 French Montana released a statement revealing Max B has taken a plea bargain for aggravated manslaughter and is set to be released within 2 to 6 years.[not in citation given] Max continues to seek a higher appeal. Rapper Jay-Z recently shouted out Max B in support in his Rick Ross and Dr. Dre collaboration "3 Kings."
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