Memphis Bleek has been pegged as the quintessential rap sidekick, an artist who rode the coattails of a star to his own success. His relationship to Jay-Z has been immeasurably informative in his career, sure, but the Brooklyn rhymer also carved out a solid solo following. He’s released four albums on his own, all of which realized respectable levels of commercial success. But his last retail effort was released in 2005, shortly before Hov spit the memorable “Diamonds From Sierra Leone” line, “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.” Bleek hasn’t been able to find that hit, and he’s back at it.
Earlier this week, the veteran MC released his latest mixtape, Kush Vol. 2. It’s a short effort—there are 12 tracks that round out at under 25 minutes—and Bleek is kicking bars that mimic the approach he’s had for some time. The majority of the tracks don’t even hit the two minute mark in length, and it makes it seem like the rapper was just focused on getting back in the booth to shake some of the dust off. The results, though, are disappointing. Bleek decides to remake a crop of today’s recent hits—from “The Motto” to “Same Damm Time” to “Rack City” to “I Don’t Like” to “I’ma Boss.” Unfortunately, the cuts he chooses have not only, for the most part, been remade ad nauseum, but Bleek doesn’t do anything to add a new flair to the tracks. His drug talk and boasts of female conquests come off uninspired, and the results do little to stand on their own when compared to the originals.
Even after all this time, Memphis Bleek’s voice still sounds at home on records, even if he didn’t put those records together with the same focus on Kush Vol. 2 that he did earlier in his career. Will Bleek ever have that hit that Jay referenced on various occasions? At this rate, probably not. But that’s ok. He can just kick back and chill somewhere. And drop off a mixtape when he’s in the mood. —Adam Fleischer (@AdamXXL)