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1 January, 2000@12:00 am

 Hot of the heels of Jay-Z’s The Dynasty comes Roc-A-Fella’s youngest in charge with his sophomore release, coming one year after his debut, Coming Of Age. As his first album hardly broke any sales records, Memphis Bleek is attempting to redeem himself with this quick follow-up, hoping to catch a bigger wave the second time around.

Evidently recorded around the same time as The Dynasty, listeners can expect the same type of camaraderie between the camp, as Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel help the Memph-Man carry this album along, appearing on several of the tracks. This type of intertextuality helps bring the same feel as Jay-Z’s recent Dynasty release, and ultimately a more successful turnout than Bleek’s Coming Of Age. While Memphis still remains an obvious rookie, good production and the right amount of support from his crew holds this release together much better than his disastrous debut.

Obviously attempting to catch an audience that will judge him less for lyrical content, and more for what he can offer them, Memph keeps the chickenhead’s attention well with both like “Do My”and like “PYT”. Both feature female-friendly hooks spearheaded by Jigga, and are produced so well that they will easily demand plenty of radio and club play, carrying Bleek into the big leagues. Other tracks, such as “We Get Low”, like “Change Up”, like “My Mind Right Remix” and the classic bootleg favorite “Is That Your Chick (The Lost Verses)”, are also produced well enough, so that Bleek can get away with second-grade rhymes – at least for the time being.

Yet when the production isn’t there, in terms of lyrics, it quickly becomes evident that were dealing with an uneducated thug on the mic. “All Types Of Shit”, “Everyday”, “They’ll Never Play Me” and the dreadful Foreigner sampled “In My Life” (which doesn’t nearly work as well as M.O.P.’s “Cold As Ice”) show Bleek’s obvious lack of experience, proving that it’s his taste in beats that carries him through this release. His whiney style lacks the finesse and street knowledge of his teacher, Jay-Z, proving himself to be in same league as other cats that have made it this far with doo-doo styles and good production, such as Ma$e and Noreaga.

Nevertheless, this album must be taken for what it’s worth. For veteran hip-hop listeners, turning down your intelligence levels a notch is essential, and for others, maybe not. After you’ve dumbed down your own expectations, listening to the futuristic production styles of Just Blaze and company dropping bombs over Brooklyn is an enjoyable experience. It took Jay-Z over five years to hop off Jaz’ back, and it could take Memphis the same amount of time, or longer, before he really can stand on his own. For now, he may just be a hot dog who ain’t sayin’ Nathan - but over these beats, Nathan sure sounds dope.

  Mixtape D.L.
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