(Photo credit: Young Los’ Instagram)
Today’s Micro-Chop newsletter was written by Andre Gee. Andre is a DC-born, Brooklyn-based freelance writer and beatmaker. Check him out on Twitter and IG and read more of his work on DJBooth, Medium, Micro-Chop, Okayplayer, UPROXX, and his more fire. newsletter.
Many people use the term “wavy,” but few recognize the person who popularized the term: Harlem rapper Max B. Young Los, the versatile producer who helped soundscape the wave, is an even more underappreciated part of the equation. Los was just 18-years-old when he started working with Max B, supplying him with beats that turned into cult classics like “Blow Me A Dub” (and the remix), “Bad Whiskey,” “Picture Me Rollin,” and more.
Unfortunately, Max B’s 2009 conviction (and since-shortened 75-year sentence) on manslaughter and robbery charges halted the wave for a decade—negatively impacting Young Los’ career, too. Los recently did an interview with his friends from the Beechmont Deli podcast, where he reflected on his placements with Jim Jones’ Byrdgang and his work with Max B. He also divulged that he was set to be managed by A$AP Yams at the time of the A$AP Mob architect’s untimely death.
He was an integral part of one of New York city’s most important movements of the past 15 years, anonymous to some but a pillar of an iconic era to those in the know.
There isn’t much public info available about Los, but he divulged on the Beechmont Deli pod that he and his mother moved from Ohio to Newport News, Virginia around 2005. Southern Virginia has long been a musical hotbed, and his mother was immersed in the scene as a singer-songwriter, working with a group who Los said “had a situation” with Sony Records. He credits her with introducing him to music.
Los soon started exploring Fruity Loops software, locking in with friends and collectively learning the ins and outs of the then-under the radar platform. 9th Wonder was one of the first industry producers who used Fruity Loops and Los culled through his sample sources to refine his own skills. He also recorded 30-second preview clips of songs on music retail sites and sampled them, a technique that highlights his resourcefulness and a bygone era when sample sources weren’t freely available on producer blogs and YouTube.
The mid-2000s was the Myspace era, and Los’ ingenuity helped him meet members of the Virginia-based SoundSquad production group through the platform. He says that the crew had a “management situation” and ended up submitting beats to Jim Jones’ Byrdgang—while Los was still in high school.
Eventually, SoundSquad producer Majik produced Jim Jones and the late Stack Bundles’ 2006 “Weatherman” track, which opened the door for Los to get his first placement with the spacey “We Flyin” on Byrdgang’s 2008 release MOB The Album. Los also earned a placement with then-Byrdgang member Max B’s “Blow Me A Dub” track, one of the best instances of an oft-used Dramatics “Thank You For Your Love” sample.”
Byrdgang’s momentum ultimately sputtered, MOB The Album didn’t sell well, and Los said “life took its course,” which led him to go back to Ohio after graduating high school. He eventually got a call from Max, who had fallen out with Jim Jones, asking him to send beats—and the wave began.
Los sent Max beats for 2008’s Public Domain 3 mixtape. Though Max worked with a slew of producers on the project, including DMX’s onetime go-to producer Dame Grease, Los crafted two of the standout records with “Picture Me Rollin” and “Ready To Ride.”
“Picture Me Rollin” is a lush, feel-good record ripe for Max’s crooning and stream-of-consciousness rhyming that was equally aspirational, streetwise, and hilarious. “Ready To Ride” is a churning, synth-driven threat that Max revisited in 2010. The PD3 records show Los’ ability to flip a sample and work the piano roll with similar finesse. It also exhibited an undeniable synergy between the young producer and Max.
Today, artists like Drake, Wiz Khalifa, and Young Thug celebrate Max as a pioneer of infusing rap with melody. Even his onetime enemy Jim Jones surmised that he could’ve been as big as Drake had he not been incarcerated, noting in a 2016 Rap Radar interview, “a lot of these artists right now that are singing, and being very melodic, a lot of that came from that boy’s whole catalog.”
He was a one of a kind presence from his first major appearance on Cam’ron’s 2006 Jay-Z diss “You Gotta Love It.” His gruff vocals were undoubtedly captivating, but also polarizing. He was an untrained singer, but won listeners over with a range of factors: his underrated lyrical ability, a quote-worthy sense of humor, and an ear for beats like Los’.
Though it’s unclear exactly how many placements Los has on Max B’s mixtapes (which don’t have official credits), he became a staple of the wave through Max’s shoutouts at the beginnings of songs. He never produced a full Max B project, but his range and immersive production made him a core component of the Max B experience along with Dame Grease.
Max apparently felt the same, as he eventually moved the “genius” to New York where they had a positive relationship beyond the studio. During the podcast, Los recalled hanging out with the crew during and after shows, and being given clothes by Max (because they were the same size).
Beyond his work with Max B, Los also produced French Montana’s 2009 “Mac Wit Da Cheese,” a glorious Marvin Gaye flip which is one of French’s early gems. The song is one of the first examples of Max’s style rubbing off on his friend (and Dame Grease), a trend that would expand throughout the entire industry in ensuing years.
Los said on the Beechmont Deli podcast that two of his favorite beats he did with Max were “Porno Muzik” and “Bad Whiskey.” “Porno Muzik” sampled “In The Mood” by the Whispers, and Max kept the original’s sultry vibe intact with raunchy lyrics and a catchy cadence that would’ve shot the song near the top of the charts with any modicum of an industry push.
“Bad Whiskey” is another wavy essential. Los recalled on the podcast, “when that sample hit me it took me somewhere else.” The core of the song is a simple, hypnotizing, groove with secondary percussion that seems to flutter about. The song is a gripping flashback to 2008, when Max B is free, enjoying his life, and “strollin’ through the SoHo” shopping for sunglasses. But Max also ominously rhymed “seven in, with like 40 to go, or maybe more,” referring to jail time he had done and time he was facing as an alleged mastermind of a 2006 robbery that ended in the death of two men. Max B proclaimed his innocence repeatedly, both in his music and elsewhere, but was convicted on 9 of the 11 counts he was facing in June of 2009.
The trial loomed heavy in Max’s discography. He openly lamented the possibility of returning to jail on “Never Wanna Go Back,” a doleful track that Los crafted from Inez Foxx’s “Let Me Down Easy.” But just days after the song was reportedly released, Max was sentenced. An era was over.
In March 2011, Max signed with Amalgam Digital while incarcerated and released Vigilante Season. The project was predominantly scored by Dame Grease, but “Porno Muzik” was on the album, as was Los’ “Green Gain”—a bouncy production that felt like the score to a show about the waviest space crew in the universe.
There’s not much known about Los’ output after 2011, as his placements slowed following Max B’s incarceration. He produced for a Bronx-based duo of young girls named Brown Sugar, who performed at Hot 97’s Summer Jam in 2012. He also says that he developed a relationship with A$AP Yams, the co-founder of A$AP Mob who was a burgeoning music mogul at the time of his 2015 death. Los mentioned that they were “working together off paper” on management, but Yams passed before anything materialized.
Though there’s no evidence of Yams mentioning the partnership online, it’s plausible. Yams was a hip-hop head who once jokingly tweeted about, “bailing Max out and signing him to ASAP Worldwide” in 2012. It’s hard to believe he wouldn’t be in the know about the producers lacing an uptown movement as strong as Max had, especially one as talented as Los.
Sadly, that was another relationship that sputtered in tragedy, and Los hasn’t been able to gain similar industry footing. It’s unfortunate that he hasn’t been able to cultivate placements with many artists in the past decade, but perhaps the rap gods decided that the synergy with Max isn’t to be touched or imitated.
Los noted that people credit him with being “the wave,” but he doesn’t look at it that way, instead giving full credit to Max. His humility is admirable, but he had a part in the circumstance. Even if fans don’t know who Young Los is to explicitly credit his greatness, he made an indelible impact on the game in just a three-year span. While there are plenty of prolific producers with a slew of placements through the years, Los did what so many of them couldn’t by helping shape a signature, one-of-a-kind sound that transcends eras.
Thanks for reading, see you on Wednesday!