“I ain’t punched no clock since I was 18-year-old,” said Max Minelli who is considered one of Baton Rouge’s most known unknowns with a career that spans over two dozen projects and a role in ushering two of Hip Hop’s biggest Southern artists representing the Jigga City.
Minelli’s story goes back to being a member of storied collective The Concentration Camp alongside notables including C-Loc, Young Bleed and a very young Lil Boosie (currently known as Boosie Badazz).
Before Boosie eventually left for the Pimp C-backed Trill Entertainment, Minelli, aka Dope Boy Chad, recalls his mentor-like relationship with him. “When his first album came out called Youngest of Da Camp, Lo went to jail in the middle of doing it,” he explained. “I just helped him, groomed him a little bit. But Boosie, he was a wise young nigga.”
During a March performance in Baton Rouge, Boosie joined Loc and Minelli to perform fan favorite “Outlaws” together for the first time in 16 years. “It’s great to see Boosie doing what he doing because it make me feel like we be right about shit,” said Minelli. “It’s a good feeling bro. I’m proud of him and everything he do.”
Even Kevin Gates’ early beginnings during his Dead Game Records years were attached to Minelli, who offered him his first noteworthy feature for free.
“They asked me ‘what’s the ticket’ and I was like ‘man you don’t gotta pay me nothing,’” he said. “So I did a couple of features for him and he went to jail for like three years.” The two even had a project together. “Gates had some songs that he had recorded before he was locked up so we took them and mixed up me and him for an album called The Leak,” said Minelli.
On the solo tip, Minelli has dropped an album every year since 2001 after his 1999 debut Max Pain. He even joined South Park Mexican, Baby Bash and a handful of others for Texas-based collective Lone Star Ridaz for two projects. Meanwhile, he also managed to grow an incredibly loyal cult following within the South despite being relatively under the radar. “It ain’t the biggest, but they 100 and supportive,” Minelli said.
A steady show regimen stretching Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, East Texas and Alabama only serves to put a lock on his fans. “The streets support us to the 100” he explained. They support us more than they do more national artists." Add ghostwriting (he was quiet in regards to who exactly) into the mix and the end results are lucrative in monetization. Minelli estimates he grossed six figures in 2015.
For his follow-up to last year’s Dopeboy Chad 1.2, he’s on the way to dropping his eighteenth full-length solo album in Testify. “It’s all about telling the truth and being yourself because the world is so fuckin fake now to be real,” Minelli said. “I’m an OG by now and I come from a different era. Now, I’m trying to bring it back to the essence.” Testify’s first single “Take My Own Lick” serves as another reminder of his still impressive skills as an MC.
Between the superstar statuses of Boosie and Gates and Minelli’s hometown status, one would think Louisiana's capital had the potential to become a Southern rap hub. But for some reason, it's not.
In a recent interview with Vlad TV, Boosie blamed law enforcement for rap stars including Master P and Birdman leaving the state that made them. Minelli’s explanation echoes that sentiment as well. “The police don’t like a nigga being flashy like that and they see the influence the music has on the youngsters,” he explained. “Per capita, our murder rate was higher than Chicago’s a couple of years ago and they blame it on the music. They kind of run everybody out of the city. I don’t even live in Baton Rouge anymore. I live in a city like 50 miles away.”
Regardless, Minelli continues to push his Louisiana legacy. Most importantly, he’s making a good living by putting the music first. “It’s about reaching the people who relate to you and once you got em, you have to keep feeding them,” said Minelli. “Be loyal to them and they’ll be loyal to you.”