Memphis Bleek - The Understanding
Updated: Aug 24, 2019
For those of you who remember Jay-Z's protege since Reasonable Doubt, Memphis Bleek, he was the second coming of the Roc-A-Fella crew at the time. Memphis Bleek who grew up in the same apartment building as Jay-Z in the Marcy projects in Brooklyn. Bleek made a name for himself after appearing in Jay-Z's third album "Vol 2... Hard Knock Life", he released his first solo album "Coming of Age" in 1998 which sold enough units to be certified Gold. After the release of that album, Bleek teamed up with Beanie Sigel to assist Jay-Z's "Vol 3... Life and Times of S. Carter" and "The Dynasty: Roc La Familia". Memphis Bleek was such a hot and fire artist on the roster of the Roc-A-Fella Family, he released his second album "The Understanding" on December 5th, 2000 under Roc-A-Fella Records, Def Jam Recordings and Bleek's label at the time, Get Low Records. The album features Jay-Z, Beanie Sigel, Amil, H Money Bags, Carl Thomas, Twista, and Missy Elliot. The reason for this throwback review on Memphis Bleek is to not forget who were Jay-Z's soldiers before the Kanye West and Beyonce days.
The album starts with a banging instrumental from Just Blaze on the song called "U Know Bleek", where Memphis Bleek reminds everybody who he is and what he's all about. The following song is "Do My..." featuring Jay-Z. The song has that 2000s club vibe and it explains how the Roc boys love to have fun. There's also a video of this single with cameos from a tennis beginner now legend Serena Williams, WNBA's Lisa Leslie and a young Megan Good. "I Get High" is, well you can guess it by the name of the song that Bleek loves to get high. He raps about what he does when he smokes to get high, and he also mentioned in the song that he smokes one for BIG and one for Pac. The song alongside with Styles P "I Get High" deserves to be in the top 5 hip-hop songs to listen to when you blaze one up. Then we have the song "We Get Low" produced by Just Blaze and engineered by Young Guru. This is another crazy and high instrumental which also has that 2000s club and beach vibe and Memphis Bleek's flow matched nicely with the beat. The song "Change Up" is featuring Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel, and it starts with Sigel on the first verse on a hard instrumental, then the instrumental switches when Memphis Bleek starts to lay down his verse and the beat switches again when it comes to Jay-Z who decided to tease his verse for the following song "My Mind Right" remix. The song features H. Money Bags, Beanie Sigel and Jay-Z and the song is about anybody who crosses Jay-Z or The Roc has to be dealt with, which was the case as Jay-Z went ruthless on his verse where he aimed at Harlem World member Meeno because he previously dissed Hov on a song. The instrumental even sounds like you're ready to cause trouble. The following song is called "Hustlers" featuring Beanie Sigel, and the two MCs rap about how the streets are not built for everyone and they're also laying out their hustling street cred outside of rapping.
In the second half of the album, we have the song "All Types of Shit" featuring Jay-Z on the outro of the song and then we have "PYT" featuring Jay-Z and Amil. The song is about how Bleek like his woman, a down ass chick with Hov on the hook and Amil on the last verse rapping about how she can be down for her man. Then we have the song "Bounce Bitch" and the instrumental was all over the place, which it didn't make me a fan of the song, and even Bleek's lyrical content was average on this song. "They'll Never Play Me" is again produced by Just Blaze and the song is smoother than the previous songs that Just Blaze made for Bleek, but it's still a good instrumental Bleek's rapping skills and his flow matched well with the beat. The following song is called "Everyday" featuring Carl Thomas. Then we have "Is That Your Chick" featuring Jay-Z, Twista, and Missy Elliot and the song was produced by Timbaland. The song is Memphis Bleek biggest hit and it's also considered one of the songs where Jay-Z rapped the best verses in his career. I don't know what made Jay-Z go ham on this song but he really snapped and even Bleek and Twista decided to go flow to flow with Jigga. Even tho I wanted Twista to have at least two verses like Jay and Bleek, with Missy on the hook and Timbo on the beat, this song is perfect, and regarding the lyrics on the song, don't worry, Jay-Z and Beyonce weren't dating at the time. The last song of the album is "In My Life" and Bleek reflects about growing up and hustling in the streets of the Marcy Projects and the song samples Foreigner's "I Want to Know What Love Is".
In conclusion after listening to "The Understanding", I did not get attached to the first album "Coming Of Age" but Memphis Bleek's second album was better in my opinion. His high and aggressive voice and flow made the Marcy streets stories interesting with the mix of Jay-Z's mellow flow. If I could say something about Bleek, for me he will always be Jay-Z's first little brother because they grew up together and alongside with Beanie Sigel, everybody knows that the Roc boys had every summer on lock. Now even tho Jay-Z went to do his other businesses and left the crazy days to a healthy relationship with Beyonce and a good or mixed up relationship with his second brother Kanye West, let's never forget Jay-Z's verse on Kanye West "Diamonds" in 2005, "Bleek could be one hit away his whole career, As long as I'm alive he's a millionaire, And even if I die he's in my will somewhere, So he could just kick back and chill somewhere Oh yeah, he don't even have to write rhymes". For the album itself, I think the themes about the streets, hustling, and girls were repetitive in the album, but it was still enjoyable to listen to.