Today, June 23, is the birthday of Malik Cox, better known to the hip-hop world as Memphis Bleek. The rapper, who was one of the first artists to be signed to Roc-A-Fella Records, now turns 40. The New York rapper has had quite an extensive career.

A protégé to his longtime friend Jay-Z, Memphis pioneered onto the scene with several features on Jay projects including Reasonable Doubt, Vol. 2…. Hard Knock Life, and The Blueprint 2.

Following the success of his exposure through the Roc-A-Fella camp, the Brooklyn MC went on to release his RIAA certified Gold debut Coming of Age in 1999. Bleek continued releasing 2 more studio albums; The Understanding and M.A.D.E., before taking a three-year hiatus to release 534 in 2005. Titled after the building number where he and Jay-Z grew up in the Marcy Projects, the LP included the first official Def Jam recording of then label mate Rihanna.

"Is That Yo Chick", featuring Missy Elliott and Jay-Z, remains his highest charting single and the two films in which appeared, State Property and Paper Soldiers still remain staple films in hip-hop culture. Throughout his career Memphis Bleek has collaborated with figures including DMX, Ja Rule, T.I., and Cam'ron.

Still working to release his long awaited return The Process, Memphis has made it clear that although he may stray away, his heart will forever remain in hip-hop.

Happy Birthday, Bleek!

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