Artist: Memphis BleekTitle: M.A.D.E.Rating: 3 1/2 StarsReviewed by: Jayson Rodriguez
On what was then supposed to be Jay-Zs final album, Vol 2…Hard Knock Life, Memphis Bleek was billed as Hovs heir apparent: a new, improved Jay-Z. Two albums later, he was still trying to live up to the hype. But after three years away from the game, Bleek is creeping out of the shadows of S.Carter. On M.A.D.E, its the life and times of Malik Cox that reveal glimpses of a new, improved Memphis Bleek.
Understand Me Still, finds M.Easy delving into his personal life as he speaks on his career, his newborn son, and his absence from rap. The somber solo track, accompanied by Rells soulful wailing on the chorus, features Bleek recounting his older brothers life-threatening motorcycle accident: I took Dre down to South Beach/ just to show him what a few ones can do when you amongst ya crew/ we livin/ I never pictured I could ever lose him/ but I found myself with the thoughts I could lose him. However, Bleek is best when paired with his Roc-a-fella cohorts rather than alone. The incendiary Just Blaze, Bleek & Free, along with previously released mixtape gem Murda Murda, elicit Bleeks domineering flow, which has more command than a drill sergeant.
Its when the Memph Man flies solo that he most often falters. I Wanna Love U, and Need Me In Your Life, find Bleek outside his realm as the aggressiveness in his delivery doesnt abate and his words come off as insincere as opposed to flattering or funny. Not to mention, the latter is just plain misogynistic.
When not flanked by Jay-Z or Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek doesnt define himself enough. He tells us hes a hustler (Round Here, Hell No) but not much else. Though hes no Jay-Z, Bleeks a good rapper. And in this game-abundant with albums by mediocre emcees-theres nothing wrong with that.