Music

What Went Right With… T-Max?

What Went Right With... the rapper Todd Keith Maxwell aka T-Max

T-Max (an abbreviation of his real name Todd Keith Maxwell) is a rapper from Boston, Massachusetts who some may recall from the mid-to-late ’90s underground Hip-Hop scene. I used to be a photography student at college and seeing his name on a tracklist or playlist always reminded me of the Kodak film of the same name. It wasn’t until recently that I discovered what T-Max really meant but regardless of what I did or didn’t know, I was always a fan. There were a couple of vinyl singles by T-Max that I regularly listened to, not only back in the day but in the present day too, namely his most famous song “Execution Style” as well as the slept-on “Business” and “Relax Your Mind”, all from 1996…

These joints were great examples of mid-90s Hip-Hop with unapologetically non-mainstream lyrics, hooks, and beats. It’s been reported that T-Max was signed to Polydor Records but his most famous single (which included the above) was released on an independent label Damage Records.

I assume T-Max wrote a handful of songs whilst with Polydor/Damage but an LP never surfaced. A self-released album titled Bless All Get Money was apparently released a few years later in 1998 (according to Discogs) but I was unable to find it. Thankfully, German label Crooked Cat Records released two EPs in 2014 which contained some of this unreleased material (recorded between 1992 to 1996). It states on the label’s Bandcamp page that these songs are taken from two unreleased albums; Alley Walker (1993) and Bless All Get Money (1996) which means T-Max tried dropping an LP multiple times but for some unknown reason, they never saw the light of day. What a damn shame.

Here’s the Live Wire EP

And the Time To Explode EP

Tracks like “Crazy”, “Sweat Me Not”, and “The Moment” from Live Wire and “Pass It On”, “Time To Explode”, and “Let Loose (Remix)” from Time To Explode prove that either of T-Max’s ’90s albums would have been memorable releases but like many talented MCs from that period, their music was for all intents and purposes: suppressed. Even though these two EPs have since been released, there’s still tracks like “You And I”, “Relax”, “Fantasy Island”, “Specialist”, and “Who The Fuck Is This” (from BMG’s promo tape) and “Don’t Stop”, “Stress”, and “Room Full Of Smoke” from his self-released version of Bless All that require official releases. Also known as T Max The Novelist, thankfully, a couple of these songs were uploaded to his Soundcloud several years ago.

Here’s “Fantasy Island”…

Here’s “Stress”…

And a few more recent tracks including the stand-out “What’s The World”…

In 2018, two more tracks were released, this time by Subway Hip Hop Records. This single included “Bless The Apparatus” and “Tell Me What The Truth Is”, yet more proof that T-Max is an underrated and underappreciated rapper…

It’s a shame that East Coast Hip-Hop is always associated with New York and New Jersey but other north-eastern States like Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania made some golden era classics too. More East Coast fans (and Hip-Hop fans in general) need to listen to T-Max, his contribution to ’90s Hip-Hop is just as important as everyone else.

To The Max

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