On this day, Aug. 3, in hip-hop history…


1999: Memphis Bleek had the blessing of being associated with Jay Z and gearing up to be his successor. Sometimes, when you are closely affiliated with an established rapper, comparisons of your mentor are bound to happen. Bleek, who is known to be a hard-edged rhymer, made a name for himself in his debut album, Coming Of Age. On the project, the Roc-A-Fella artist showed his capability of making his own music outside of Jay’s mentorship.

Coming Of Age stayed in tune with his come up from the Marcy Projects in Brooklyn. Bleek settleed for gritty, gangster rhymes that revolve around familiar subject matter: selling drugs, killing foes and getting women. Tracks such as “Stay Alive In NYC” and to “Memphis Bleek Is…” are indications of his potential to carry the torch for Roc-A-Fella. His aggressive flow was also another highlight, and that was accentuated with polished production by Swizz Beatz and Irv Gotti.

Bleek proved to his big brother that he was firmly focused to finally step out of his shadow. With major assists from Ja Rule, Noreaga and Beanie Sigel on this record, the circle around him knew he was next. Coming Of Age was a solid solo debut and showed Bleek was ahead of the rap game.

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