Monday, November 5, 2012

Memphis Bleek

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If you know about the Roc-A-Fella Records legacy, you know about Memphis Bleek, one of the first proteges of Jay-Z. Although Bleek was never (and still isn't) the greatest lyricist and definitely been hit or miss throughout his career, he was fairly solid overall, especially during the ROC's prime. I never considered him under or overrated, but he played his role as well as anyone else could've in a click setting.

We begin with Bleek's 1999 debut, "Coming of Age". I recall anticipating this one a little bit that year. It was decent for a debut album, but it hasn't stood the test of time, and it's largely been forgotten by hip hop history. "Memphis Bleek Is.....", the Jay-Z featured "What You Think of That" and "Murda 4 Life" (featuring Ja Rule) are three of the highlights on this 3 star album.

Released after Jay-Z's excellent "The Dynasty Roc La Familia" in late 2000, Bleek was at, what I consider his peak on the mic, and on that same Jay-Z album, he was at his most inspired, and you saw a little more of that on his sophomore album, "The Understanding". Lyrically this may be his best album, but respectively that's not saying much. It still holds up today, but very slightly. This 3.5 star album has a good number of highlights, such as the banger "Do My" (featuring Jay-Z), the very good remix to "My Mind Right" (featuring Jay-Z & Beanie Sigel), "We Get Low", and the album's closer "In My Life".

Released three years about "The Understanding", Bleek returned with his third album, and although the ROC was still somewhat of a force in hip hop at this point, Bleek's albums were beginning to receive less buzz than the one before it. "M.A.D.E." in my opinion was a very good album, on par with "The Understanding" if not better. 3.5 stars is my rating for this album, largely thanks to "Everything's a Go" (featuring Jay-Z), "Round Here" (featuring T.I. and Trick Daddy, and although I'm not a fan of his music, he did ok on this one), the smooth "Hypnotic" (featuring Jay-Z & Beanie Sigel), and "Hood Muzik" (featuring M.O.P.).

I never checked this album out, and according to the feedback I've read on this, I'm not missing anything, and again, this album made LESS noise than the albums before it. It was said that the Jay-Z track "Dear Summer" was the best on here, and how fitting, if you will, that a Jay track is the best song on a Memphis Bleek album, lol.

At this point in his career, releasing a slew of forgettable mixtapes in an effort to keep his name out there, Bleek is as irrelevant as they come (and I don't mean that as a form of disrespect), and while some of that may be through fault of his own, he was never able to fully escape being in the shadow of Jay-Z, and lets face it, when you're in THAT big of a shadow, it's going to be a little difficult to branch off and become your own star.

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