Memphis Bleek Coming of Age

Making his debut on Jay-Z’s tour de force Reasonable Doubt on a track also titled “Coming Of Age,” Memphis Bleek made a significant impression. On the track he played the role of a young up and comer trying to convince Jigga of his worthiness, even pledging to “ride for free.” Well, that was three years ago, and in the interim thug-ish rugg-ish rap has proven to be the route to take for immediate pop success. Bleek has clearly taken notice and goes for the cream, joining up with artists like Ja Rule (“Murda 4 Life”) and Noreaga (“Why You Wanna Hate For”) for his debut. Unfortunately, in taking this path Memphis Bleek seems to have lost much of the charisma he exhibited on earlier appearances and comes perilously close to becoming another cookie-cutter MC. Fortunately, the hype “Who’s Sleeping,” the reflective “Regular Cat” and the bouncy “What You Think Of That” featuring mentor Jay-Z capture his earnest energy. But all of Bleek’s verve can’t mask the fact that his subject matter is extremely limited. While the title touts that Memphis Bleek is ready for the world, he has some work to do before he can hit prime time. (Def Jam)