Memphis Bleek : The Understanding

And it's all down to carefully tailored dance tracks...

Rappers seldom get to mature in hip-hop’s fast lane. Personal growth is often seen to be counter-productive to a culture that dismisses real adulthood and rewards thugged-out lifestyles that border on the juvenile. So, it’s a wonder to watch Memphis Bleek leave his hustler persona of old behind him. The Brooklyn-born rapper, who doubles as the unknown element and secret weapon in Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella clique, has grown into a major mainstream contender.

And it’s all down to carefully tailored dance tracks, shrewdly designed sops at the pop market, and heartfelt moments of reflection. Clubbers will revel in Memph’s celebratory tales of the high life and memories of penury, set to crisp, futuristic beats.

Even if there is a dubious surrealism to the way ‘In My Life’ hijacks Foreigner’s ‘I Want To Know What Love Is’ for its melodramatic bathos; cruise-tunes like ‘I Get High’, the tongue-twists on ‘Is That Your Chick (The Lost Verses)’, and the sheer cheek of the rude ‘Bounce B****’ will consolidate Memph’s reputation.

Another hitch is the way the man is all too eager to countenance his fellow dynasty members Jay-Z and Beanie Sigel in their blatant attempts to outshine him. Mercifully, the friendly competition spurs Bleek on to ever headier descriptions of marijuana smoke, designer jewellry and enough top shelf alcohol to drown a lush. Let’s see where he goes next.

Dele Fadele