The snow slowly falls outside his cozy Wichita home. Maximum James sips a cup of tea by a crackling brick fireplace as his young puppy Buck sprints back and forth through his warm house. As idyllic as it seems now, James’ life was not always so picturesque.
Maximum James was born in Cuernavaca, Mexico to his mother Jennifer and his father Minimum. At the young age of three, Maximum lost his father when the Mexican government allegedly assassinated him for his sexually explicit musical creations. Minimum’s song “Your Penis Goes Here” struck a chord with young adults in the country, but the themes of sexual freedom and expression were too dangerous for President Vicente Fox. Minimum’s growing cult following was left disappointed when he mysteriously disappeared on March 16th, 2003.
As for Maximum and his mother, the only salvation from President Fox’s witch hunt was to escape north, to chase the American dream in Wichita, Kansas.
Maximum lived a normal childhood in Wichita, according to his mother Jennifer. “He was a pretty normal kid in Elementary School,” says his mother. “Maxxy loved recess, play time, nap time...His grades always reflected that.” According to his mother, there were no signs that indicated the levels of stardom he would one day reach.
Maximum exploded onto the scene in 2016 with hit single “Buffalo Boi,” a chart-topping banger that many have credited with the rise in wholesome rap music, thanks to lyrics like “I don’t do drugs/ Drugs are so bad!/ I kissed your dad.../ He kissed me back!”
We were able to catch up with James at his home and ask him a few questions about his inspirational backstory, thriving career, and promising future.
Ringer The: What is your name, age, and social security number?
Maximum James: My name is Maximum James, I am 18 years old and my social security card went missing when I was 7.
RT: What inspired you to start making videos and music?
MJ: What really inspired me to start making any kind of content in general was just me watching youtubers like Fred or whatever poppin youtuber in 2009 was at a young age and just thinking “Why am I watching someone else’s shit when I could just be making my own?” Once I had this mindset I WAS UNSTOPPABLE. Made tons of trash and always found an excuse to turn something into a video. With this same mindset I started making “music” and found it was a lot more fun to make your own jams rather than listening to someone’s else’s.
RT: What's your favorite video and song you've made?
MJ: Wowee, my favorite video would probably have to be this one me and my buds made in 2015 where I get beaten to death by a man in a chicken mask while a chopped and screwed version of “Hotline Bling” plays eerily in the background the whole time. That one never gets old, got my favorite jacket so juicy, filthy, and dirty. My favorite song I’ve made has to be this jam me and my buddy Ryan Laetari made called “TWO APPS.” The whole song is about not having enough storage on your phone to maintain a stable relationship with your significant other because you can only talk on Snapchat or Facebook. Super heartfelt, super true, super sad.
RT: What specifically inspired the song “Two Apps”?
MJ: What inspired two apps was me, Caleb Carnell, and Ryan Laetari were all locked in Ryan’s room trying to just make something. So we just sat around until something came out of us, creative-wise. It turned out me and Ryan both had shitty phone issues and we decided that would be a funny topic to make a song about. It was a super fun, magical little evening. We recorded the song and shot the video in his basement in one night. That was the first time I even ever met Ryan! We were both fans of each other’s work at the time and I really wanted to at least make one thing with the fella!
RT: What inspired hit single “Buffalo Boi”?
MJ: There was this large chunk of time in 2016 where I was really into Soulja Boy out of nowhere and I really wanted a god damn iSouljaBoyTellem type beat. OH, and I was super duper hardcore into those goddamn Cajun fries from the burger joint Five Guys. With these two inspirations combined I went to my friend Jackson’s house and pitched this Soulja boy beat idea to him, and he immediately booted up his cracked version of FL STUDIO, loaded up them cowbells, and went to town on that beat. In like an hour we had made the whole jam and had a music video shot in his laundry room….A lot of people know about “Buffalo Boi”, very cool you guys know about that!
RT: What's the most attention you've gotten from something you made?
MJ: The most attention I’ve had on a video would have to be this water bottle flipping video I made with my pal Blake, where it’s just a parody of the water bottle flip challenge. Pretty much no matter how I threw/flipped this bottle it would always land perfectly with the help of Blake’s hand. It was either that or TWO APPS. Both videos were taken by multiple meme pages on Facebook and shared hundreds of thousands of times. TWO APPS did get retweeted by Zachary Fox and I felt super cool. I love him.
RT: What's your favorite movie?
MJ: Favorite movie is “Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World”. I’ve seen that film more than I’ve seen my fucking face in a mirror. I remember the first time I saw it, it was on accident. One of my friends stepdad got the wrong movie we wanted out of RedBox somehow and so we gave this movie he got instead a chance. Me and my friend, not knowing what the hell we were watching, were not impressed and so confused by this Scott Pilgrim flick. HOWEVER, the second the first fight scene begins I swear to god my 10 year old babyman eyeballs were hypnotized and fell in love with the visuals I was viewing. That movie is so good. Ramona is so cool. Michael Cera is so charming.
RT: Can we be friends?
RT: Tell us about your bodyguard.
MJ: For my Junior year of high school I had a freshman buddy who was a fan of the stuff I made! I always knew who he was because he was one of my childhood friends’ cousin, but I had never gotten a chance to know the kid until my junior year. He was super funny, super cool, super awkward and I loved him. There was this inside joke he had created where I was “too cool” for school so he would follow me around during lunch and make sure nobody tried to talk to me or touch me without his permission. He was my bodyguard. Then he just switched up and moved schools on me like a little punk and I hate his ass. Screw that kid.
RT: Is Caleb cool?
RT: What are three strengths and three weaknesses of yours?
MJ: Strengths: tall, skinny, happy.
Weaknesses: tired, weak, slow.
(I’m 6’1 and 138 pounds of bone)
RT: Where do you see yourself in five years?
MJ: In five years, I see myself doing the same thing I’ve been doing for the previous five years, making all sorts of visual content. It’s always made me happy to make videos, even if my friends around me slowly outgrow my antics, I will always find joy from creating stuff I can call my own. Just hope five years from now more people will watch!
RT: Who is the celebrity you most want to make love to?
MJ: I would want to bang Michael Cera but like in a bro way, in a friendly grin way.
RT: What's it like living in Kansas?
MJ: We sleep in tornado shelters and drink wheat water. It’s super tough over here. Be lucky you guys have buildings and hills.
RT: What music artist would you consider to be your inspiration?
MJ: I would consider my biggest musical inspiration to be Fall Out Boy. I always loved them. If I could reboot my life I would restart and try to follow in the footsteps of that band.
RT: Do you think Margaret Thatcher had girl power?
MJ: She had clout.
RT: Do you think she effectively utilized girl power by funneling money to illegal paramilitary death squads in Northern Ireland?
MJ: She had clout.
His flourishing career still just in its infancy, Maximum James doesn’t care for the glitz and glamour. James doesn’t want much more in life than to just make people happy. His videos and songs, though they’ve made him millions, are just his way of giving back, he says. “If I’ve made just one person smile, I consider my work a success.”