Montana Maxx: Detroit's Dirtworker
On “City Of Gods,” off the mixtape, KingMi, from Montana Maxx (or Mt. Maxx), the Detroit rapper explains, “I’m from a city where it’s god this and god that / but when we hungry it’s sell this or rob that.” No flash. No champagne. Just real life in America’s currently most disheveled city.
On the horizon rapper, Mt. Maxx, brings along a few friends for this ten song mixtape, his second. The album comes unhinged with the opening blare of “KingMi Intro.” Maxx appropriately uses the operatic vocals from Kanye West and Jay-Z’s “H.A.M.” as his backdrop. “I’m not a god, but I work goddamn hard,” he spits. Maxx, not yet in the throes of fame, seats himself on record as the man in the midst of his ascent. He’s working hard to get to the top, but still living like the rest of us day to day.
In today’s Detroit this is not always easy.
The fourth and best song, “City Of Gods,” floats along on a lush guitar loop. It has a dead end mood. With Rockzamillion featured, the two Detroit disciples describe the tough love they share with their home. They illustrate the daily strife of living in the U.S. city hit hardest by our collapsed economy. A place with such celebrated musical history can eat away at your own motives and Maxx is all too aware of this.
A lot of the tracks on KingMi are very heavy on atmosphere with a mood to match. “One Night Stand” finds Maxx trapped in the aftermath of a relationship that broke apart, playing Xbox and serial dating, to try and get past it. “You jaded ‘cuz you self-proclaimed it,” he reflects. Over a thawing drum beat and a whispering premonition from the chords of a female throat, he struggles to escape his internal issues without the crutch of drugs. Later, on “Cold Outside,” Maxx deals with the anxiety of meeting the expectations of himself and his peers, never finding solid ground. It opens with sympathetic synth flourishes like a sci-fi soundtrack, then falls into a straight-forward beat that makes you wanna close your eyes and breathe deeply.
It’s back to living the high life, smokin’ and drinkin’, on “Kingshit,” featuring Pgrand. “We like touching dirty money doing king shit,” the two rap over foggy Bejeweled sound effects spewing in the background. ”Love You Momma” completes the mixtape with forceful odes of love to his mother. While the track sounds gloomy and Maxx is almost yelling, it’s filled with genuine admiration and a steep motherly love. He abrasively exacts the feelings he has for his mother. The honesty, for a rapper, is refreshing.
Maxx doesn’t often drop obtuse material references like many others in the game. His stories are tales of daily life, deep in reflection sitting in the middle of the living room. He’s introspective, eager to turn every plot twist of his life into an aggressive rhyme scheme. His flow is similar to many rappers today. More lofty run-on sentences rather than quick rhyming jibes.
Sonically, some tracks are fuzzy and too sparse, with nothing more than average, often used, drum beats breaking over some background noise. But, if a mixtape is simply a vehicle for your flow to practice driving, then Maxx has succeeded. He’s got a heart dripping axle grease. He’s gone past the point of simply dabbling in rap music during free time to living each verse day and night. KingMi is Maxx’s introductory roar.