Memphis Bleek has been in the wings too long. His albums have moved significant units, and his name transcends Hip-Hop and Pop culture, so why isn’t Marcy’s second son satisfied? Bleek has been around a decade plus, but it is now that he sees as his affirmation to success to be determined this year.
In two months, Bleek will drop 534, an album that reunites Bleek with his hungry roots and promising future coming up off Reasonable Doubt. It’s never too early to start talking with AllHipHop.com, and we wanted to challenge M dot on a few issues concerning the album out the box. We talk about the high stakes, and spotlight a few gems, and perhaps some weak links as well. If that wasn’t enough, we stacked the feature with some juicy side dishes.
Among such issues are Game, competition, and a firsthand lineup update the new Roc-A-Fella that in itself, may stun you. If ’05 is Bleek’s affirmation, get an early look at the ammo in the arsenal that’s planned to insure a smooth takeover.
AllHipHop.com: I know this album has a lot of career significance for you. Can you explaining the challenges you set out for yourself?
Memphis Bleek: Yeah, you do know, it’s just do or die right now ‘cause I feel blessed to have four albums. Not too many artists get to get to that point. I feel like I had the opportunity to really capitalize on the game a lot, and I just never had that push to really breakthrough and do it. If it don’t happen now, I feel like it never would.
AllHipHop.com: But you’ve got core fans too. You’ve always played amongst a very talented roster of artists, could your expectations be too high? You could smash the indie game.
Memphis Bleek: Yeah, definitely man. I just love to make music. I don’t just act like I want to make music, this is what I do. If you ask me what I do on a daily basis, everything is music. All I do is stay in the studio. I hang out there, I sleep there, I live there. I have one in my house. Everywhere I go, there’s Pro Tools and a microphone.
AllHipHop.com: Well it shows in cases where guys like Grand Puba told us that he’s a huge fan of your music and shows. You’re making a connection to your art that a lot of guys aren’t.
Memphis Bleek: I appreciate it. Grand Puba been down for years. He a vet in this game. I just heard him on the joint [“Bread & Butter”] on Bean’s album, so you know I’m feeling that. I got a lot of motivation around me to keep it going. A lot of kids love it, my son loves it, my friends, and I love it. I do it all the time. It’s just when Jay comes to the studio, he picks the songs he want to make an album out of.
AllHipHop.com: Now, Young Guru told us how personal he thought this album was. That being the case, let’s keep it gully, why you doing another weed song?
Memphis Bleek: [laughs] Not the way I done it! It’s not just about weed in general. The name of the song is “Smoke the Pain Away.” It’s for people who smoke to deal with different things to stress them out in they life. I have a line where I say, “You got your baby-mama beefin’ with you, betta have that reefer with you. When she finish her speech, let the leaf remove you.”
AllHipHop.com: So it’s not another “I Got Five On It”?
Memphis Bleek: Oh no, definitely not. It’s not a “I Get High” record neither.
AllHipHop.com: So for the record, give me the “New Roc” roster.
Memphis Bleek: Memphis Bleek, The Young Gunz, Kanye West, Foxy Brown, they signed Cory Gunz, Tiana Mari, Peedi Crakk.
AllHipHop.com: Joe Budden?
Memphis Bleek: No. He on Def Jam though.
AllHipHop.com: When G. Rap and Kane used to drop albums around the same time, there was that quiet competition. Is that the case with you and Beanie coming out so soon together this time?
Memphis Bleek: I don’t really look at it as competition with me and Beans. Me, Beans , and Jay always dropped albums around each other. Jay came out and blasted us both. It’s like, Beans album is dropping March 29th. I’m coming out May 17th. You have a two month gap in there. That’s my brother right there. I would never do nothing spiteful like that just to say I wanna drop around him.
AllHipHop.com: I think this may be the year for you both. His record is bananas.
Memphis Bleek: I hope so, man. I wish he was home to promote it and really give it that real effect. It’s hard to promote an album in the situation he in.
AllHipHop.com: You got this joint produced by Chad West, “Get Low in the House.” That’s got a crazy sound to it, older feel. Tell me about the direction behind that.
Memphis Bleek: It’s over a breakbeat that he used like, some old school stuff. I wanted to flip it. You know how people usually get on a record like that and rhyme, but lyrically, the rhyme be about nothing? Just A to Z with it. When we say house, we talkin’ the crack-house. I got work on the block, there’s some more in the house – let’s get it!
AllHipHop.com: A new classic crack record?
Memphis Bleek: Yeah, it’s the first hustler’s club crack record you ever gonna hear. Prolly the last.
AllHipHop.com: We had heard that M.A.D.E. was a stronger seller in the South than the Northeast. Why do you think that is, and will 534 follow suit?
Memphis Bleek: I don’t know if it’s true, honestly. As an artist, I be in the studio so much, that I don’t look at lists to see where the record is selling. It’s just selling to me. I love the South just as well as I love the East and West and everywhere. I make it music, and whoever accepts it and likes it, I appreciate – ‘cause they didn’t have to. It’s a blessing. Whoever buys, I don’t care where they from. They could be from Greece, don’t matter.
AllHipHop.com: Naming your record off the building number, 534, did you do any writing back in the hood?
Memphis Bleek: Nah, I don’t have to spend time. It’s my life. I go back there when I gotta go visit certain family members or old friends, or do a video or photo shoots or stuff like that. I named the album 534 to represent the struggle. Them like lottery numbers to me. Them numbers gonna be with me when I’m layin’ in my deathbed.
AllHipHop.com: That’s your identity.
Memphis Bleek: Exactly, man. I was hungry when I lived there. I just want to get back in that state of mind. I’m hungry again. I gotta go out here and get it. That comes back to the do or die.
AllHipHop.com: Whether or not the record was or wasn’t written on Game, how did it feel to watch the public response to “Dear Summer”?
Memphis Bleek: I was mad at it. Jay is on such a high plateau. Why would he rhyme at somebody like that? I was actually mad about it. Because Jay don’t have time to be talkin’ ‘bout nobody else when he had beef with such notorious names like Nas. That didn’t make no sense to me. People just try to stir up bullcrap. It’s just like the pot callin’ the kettle black. People like to stir up mess, and when somebody get shot or stabbed from it, it’s bad for Hip-Hop. I don’t like none of that beef that just be promoted. Beef don’t get promoted, it get taken care of.
AllHipHop.com: At the same time, it did reveal that your average Rap fan agreed that Game had bitten off more than he could ever really chew. It was like a scrimmage.
Memphis Bleek: I don’t know, man. I really have nothing negative to say at homie, even though he came at me crazy. I just wish him much success. He just need to get things right. When he really realizes what the industry about, it’s a long fall down from the top.
AllHipHop.com: So it’s safe to say there’s no diss verses directed at Game on 534?
Memphis Bleek: Nah, I ain’t got time for that, man. I’m bigger than that. I was doing that when I was 17.
AllHipHop.com: Beef ain’t nothing but a B-side to a first single, anyway.
Memphis Bleek: Exactly, that’s just something to hype up the album sales. But here at Roc-A-Fella, we don’t believe in that type of stuff. We believe in just spittin’ and gettin’ busy. If you nice, people gonna buy ya record. If you weak, leave it on the shelf.
AllHipHop.com: I know it’s two months away, but how will Memphis Bleek spend drop date in May?
Memphis Bleek: Drop date, I’mma spend in the 40/40 [club] with a whole bucket of Armadale, Cris, and just drink myself under the table. I always be nervous with the first week, dog.