Memphis Bleek was one of the first artists signed to Roc-A-Fella Records, as protégé to longtime friend, Jay-Z. He appeared on the Jay-Z albums: Reasonable Doubt, Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life, Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter, The Dynasty: Roc La Familia, andThe Blueprint 2: The Gift & The Curse. Bleek’s first official appearance was “Coming of Age” from Reasonable Doubt. After the huge success of Hard Knock Life and the exposure of the Roc-A-Fella camp, (a Memphis Bleek track off the aforementioned Jay-Z album, “It’s Alright”, actually charted on Billboard), the label released Memphis Bleek’s debut album, Coming of Age. The album was the weeks Hot Shot Debut on the Billboard 200, peaking at #7 with 118,000 units sold in its first week. The name “Memphis”, which the rapper explained to pay homage to pimps, was an acronym for “Making Easy Money, Pimping Hoes In Style”. He has released 3 more albums since his debut, The Understanding, M.A.D.E., and 534. In between the release of The Understanding and M.A.D.E., he took a three year hiatus, in which time he took care of his older brother, who was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. There are three significant notes to take away from the album 534, which was named after the building number where Memphis and Jay-Z grew up in the Marcy Projects. First, it was the first release from the “new” Roc-A-Fella Records, referring to Jay-Z becoming President of Def Jam. It was also the first official Def Jam recording by label mate turned international star, Rihanna, on the song “The One”. And lastly, this album marks where Jay-Z released his first song since beginning his brief “retirement”. The song was called “Dear Summer”, in reference to what Jay called the time of the year when he would drop a classic album or single every year for 8 straight years, and how he had to metaphorically leave “her”, Summer.
His single chart status has not proved to be as impressive, as much of his following being with Hip-Hop listeners following Jay-Z and the record Label, and not commercial singles success. His highest charting single was “Is That Yo Chick”, Featuring Missy Elliottand Jay-Z, which peaked at #7 on the Hot Rap Singles Billboard Chart, and only one of two songs by the artist to crack the Billboard Hot 100, peaking at #68, and the only track to appear on one of his solo albums. The other single being “It’s Alright”, appearing on the Hard Knock Life album by Jay-Z, peaking at #61 on the Billboard Hot 100. He has had countless collaborations with fellow hip-hop artists such as DMX, Ja Rule, T.I., and Trick Daddy, with many of the features coming with other Roc-A-Fella artists, including Beanie Sigel, Freeway, Cam’ron, Amil, Young Gunz, and of course Jay-Z.
In fall 2005, Memphis Bleek told MTV that he was recording an album called The Process, that he would describe as a make or break album, saying “I want to do an album that’s through the roof, I want to do a classic album. I feel that if this album I’m not recording is a classic, I’m not even gonna put it out. I have to do it bigger than anybody has ever done it. I have to make a good record this time, not just talking-junk records.” The rapper has worked on the album since 2005 and during that time frame he would release the songs “Hustla”, “Get Ya Money Off” and “Let It Off”.
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