Memphis Bleek: The Process of Determination

Memphis Bleek strolls into a small café in a quiet suburb of Central Jersey. He walks through the front door with an air of confidence that screams “Brooklyn.” His demeanor says it all (even though his shirt says it too). He’s noticed by a a few folks that talk to him about their aspirations, not […]

Memphis Bleek strolls into a small café in a quiet suburb of Central Jersey. He walks through the front door with an air of confidence that screams “Brooklyn.” His demeanor says it all (even though his shirt says it too). He’s noticed by a a few folks that talk to him about their aspirations, not realizing that Bleek himself still has some unfinished business in this music game. While confident, the veteran is changing…evolving before our collective eyes.

It’s been almost five years since the public has truly heard from the Memphis Bleek of old and nearly a year since he formally left The Roc. His last Roc-A-Fella album, 534 (2005), did not fare as well as expected even though it was well received. Shortly after, Bleek took a hiatus from recording. He’s continued to support long-time friend and mentor, Jay-Z, through his various incarnations.

But, where does that leave Bleek, the young gun that was always supposed to take the torch long ago? It leaves Memph man with new lease on life and a renewed faith in himself. Strategically, he’s prepping a new album while navigating through different waters and, every so often, recollects a time long gone.

What have you been doing since your last album?Memphis Bleek:

Just working. We got a detailing shop in Edison, NJ. It’s called Custom Car Details. I’ve been over here working on custom cars. A new album. You know, doing music, trying get outta the Def Jam situation once Jay left. You know, get my own

Are you currently released from Roc-a-Fella? Whose decision was it?

Memphis Bleek:

It was a mutual decision between me and Jay because he was leaving Def Jam to start Roc Nation. So the whole thing was like “Yo’, how long am I gonna be the little man?” I been an Indian all my life. I gotta be the Chief one day. I gotta bunch of people behind me that wanna shine. Me being under him they never gonna get a chance. So, he agreed. He said it was the best thing and that people are gonna respect me for making my own decision and for being a man and stepping out of that shadow, which is an unbelievable show to even try to get out of. So, it was a mutual decision. We both came to the agreement that going independent might be the best way to do my thing right now.

You’re currently signed with Mass Appeal Entertainment, right? Memphis Bleek:

What has that experience been like? Memphis Bleek:

Aww man, a learning process. The guy who owns it, Marcus Siskind, me and him met through my lawyer. We built a cool relationship. He’s teaching me things that I’ve never known. Before, (at a major label) I would just put the beat on, I rap, I smoke, we drink, and put it on the radio. Now, it’s like I’m finding out the politics behind the scenes.

Memphis Bleek Is Forever Roc, Talks The Critic Jay-Z

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How do you deal with the politics of the industry? Memphis Bleek:

I try not to let it affect me. Rules are rules but there also meant to be broken. You know what I’m saying? So everybody follows a certain trend and the politics. Me, I like to go around the corner and double back on people, like come back. So if you spending 80 grand on it, I’ma find somebody who’s gon’ work just as hard for 20. He’ll probably work triple times harder. The politics to me, I just like to reverse it and find the edge that works best for me.

We’ve seen the negatives and positives of going independent. Now that you’re not with Roc-a-Fella, are you concerned at all with records sales, promotion, or public perception of your future projects?

Memphis Bleek:

Nah, I’m a well respected dude. I’m always gonna be connected to the Roc thing regardless of how far I move away from it or say I ain’t down with it. When people see Memphis Bleek, it’s gon’ say Roc, regardless. The promotion for this album is gonna be done by me. If you ask me somebody drop the ball of 5.3.4. But I don’t blame nobody. I just take it like a man and say hey, I’ma blame myself this time. You feel me? It’s a new ball game now.

Let’s talk about your last album, 534. A lot of people felt like it didn’t do as well as it should. What are your thoughts on that? Memphis Bleek:

I definitely feel like the ball was dropped. I had big records on there. I had the first record with Rihanna before people even knew who she was. “The One”. And I had another follow up record produced by Irv Gotti. “Infatuated”. With the lead of “Like That” Produced by Swizz, which was ringing in every club and to this day, crazy! That right there let me know somebody dropped the ball on that single. That album was just crazy, I had a lot of good records on there and I just feel like it was a waste of effort. I did my part and the label didn’t do they part. Not necessarily saying it was Roc-a-Fella that didn’t do they part. It was Def Jam that didn’t do they part. And I couldn’t blame Jay because Jay had just become the President. So it’s like you got a whole new staff. How can I, “it’s your fault dog!”? It ain’t never his fault. I ain’t blame no body, I just took it as a loss and kept it moving. And here we go with “The Process”. Trust me, we gon’ pick up from where that one left off at. Memphis Bleek Talks Jay-Z Illuminati Rumors, Ja Rule And Beanie Sigel

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Do you feel you’re in a different space musically?

Memphis Bleek:

Definitely, because now I’m doing the music from the heart and not as a business. It’s like when I first started. When you first start making music, you’re doing what you love. You’re just writing rhymes that you honest felt, you saying what you felt and what you thought of on the spot, picking the right beats. And then something happens and people say “oh, that’s a hit, it’s a radio record, it’s a club banger”. And then it becomes a business to an artist cause now it’s like you’re tryna recapture what you did. When in all reality you can’t recapture that, you just have to go back to having fun. So that’s what I’m back to. Now that I put the fun aspect back into it, we’re back to making good records.

What’s your ultimate goal in this industry? How do you plan to get there? Memphis Bleek: 

One day at a time. My ultimate goal is to prove something to myself. Like, nobody gives me credit. I’ve never been given any credit. Everything in my life, it’s always been…and because of Jay. He’s here because of Jay. He did this because of Jay. I can name a lot of people who was signed to the Jay umbrella just like me. But if I never did “Memph Bleek is”’, “Mind Right”, “What Chu’ Think of That”, or “Do My”, there would be no Memphis Bleek, for real. Now that I’m on my own, I wanna show my behind the scenes talent. I can prove myself as an artist and maybe people will give me my respect.

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Do you blog? Do you read blogs? Memphis Bleek: 

I’m not a blogger but I definitely do read the blogs. I read the comments. It’s fuel for a guy like me because I love to hear what people gotta say. If you look at it, on a percentage scale, 20% of the s### is real, and 80% of the s### is b####### but that 20% is what matters. Somebody is gonna comment something real that you can take wit’ you and put into your craft or your daily routine. Somebody gon’ care about you.

What is your relationship with your former label mates (Beanie, Amil, etc.)?

Memphis Bleek: 

I haven’t seen Amil every since we did “Hey Papi”. I haven’t seen Beans every since we did Powerhouse. I speak to Freeway here and there. I just spoke to Young Chris and Young Neef not too long ago. I ain’t seen Petey Crack ever since he went on his little thing against Jay. I spoke to Oschino not too long ago. And Sparks just e-mailed me like a week ago. If you ask me, everybody still cool. I ain’t got no problems with nobody.

Beanie was saying some things about you and Jay being fake. What is your response to that?Memphis Bleek:

(says in a sarcastic tone) Yea, I’m mad fake. (laughs) I’ma keep it all the way real, Beans is my brother. I been knowing Beans since I was 16 years old. I grew up with Beans. We been through ups, downs, flossin to not flossin to now. I can’t down that man. There’s nothing I can say bad about him to discredit him. He may feel like he need to do that to get to where he needs to be but where I need to be, it don’t involve him and it don’t involve me discrediting him. That’s always gon be my dude.

Beanie has also expressed his feelings about Jay saying that he would “pass the baton” to Lil’ Wayne back when was said he would “retire”. How did you feel about that? Memphis Bleek:

I mean it’s cool. Those some big shoes to fill and if you ask me Lil’ Wayne doing his thing. He is like the next dude running the industry right now if you wanna be realistic. Now am I gonna say that there’s someone better than me, I’m never gonna say that. Jay can say he wants to pass the baton to who ever he feel. That’s his decision. It’s on me to take the baton from who he give it to. (laughs)

Memphis Bleek Talks Going Indie

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Do you think the whole situation with Jay and Dame affected your career in any way?Memphis Bleek:

It affected everybody. I’ma be honest. Look at everybody. I’m over here tryna run a label and learn the industry. Beans over there doing what he do. Freeway dropped an album with Jake One, which is a good album by the way. Everybody’s running off scrambling now. When at one time there was one table, with however many chairs with one plan and we accomplished it. Now, it’s crazy, so it affected everybody. Dame helped me in my career. And that’s between me and him. He knows what he did for me and I can’t discredit him neither. Whatever he went through with Jay, that’s between them. I was young. They ain’t never sat down, showed me no contacts and talk business with me so I don’t know what happened. I just know we ain’t down no more.

You recently saw Dame in London, right?Memphis Bleek: 

You see, that’s the thing with about the internet. That footage you’re talking about is so old. That was like 2 years ago. The footage was taken during the Water for Life tour. I saw Dame there. He was with that group, The Cool Kids. I tried to bring him [Jay] to see him [Dame]. I had left for a minute. I went looking for our dressing room and when I came back they was gone. After The Cool Kids performance, I guess that’s when they left. But yea, I tried to get them to bump heads. I wanted to see what was gon’ go on. (laughs)Do Jay and Dame talk at all? I think they spoke or bumped heads a few times. There’s no beef. That’s what I be tryna tell people man, it ain’t no beef. It’s like if me and you made 100 million and I took 50 and you took 50, how we got beef? If you mess your 50 up that’s on you. That ain’t my fault. Not sayin’ that’s what happened but ain’t no beef man. People just make things up. A problem ain’t a problem until somebody in the hospital.

So let’s get back to your album. Are the songs that are on the internet going to be on the album? Nah. ”Still Ill” will be on the album, just to let people know we working. Nothing else that was leaked on the internet will be on the album. I just released a bunch of free music. Hoping that when I do drop my album people are gonna feel it and support me. I done showed you love, show me love. I don’t really have no features on this album. This album is so personal to me, it’s like I’m tryna showcase so much that I don’t even have time to call nobody, wait for nobody, I’m tryna go in. I’m 9 songs deep right now. I got all new producers. I got 2 produced by Just Blaze and I’m, man (lets out a sigh of relief) I think it’s gonna be album I ever recorded. That’s my opinion personally. At first it would be “Made”, but this includes the same energy from “Coming of Age” and “Made”. It’s like taking those them two albums and combining them.

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video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player When is the album scheduled for release?Memphis Bleek:

There’s no scheduled date right now. I’m hoping for

Who do you think is your competition? Memphis Bleek:


There’s no one person?

Memphis Bleek: 

Jay. Because he my biggest critic. Jay is the type of person, it’s never right. I don’t care how much I can sit in my house, record 20 thousand records and I can say “this one is the record!” Ain’t nothing no body can tell me that’s gonna change my mind. And soon as I get to the office, he be like that’s b#######. You for real thinking that’s crazy? And I be looking at him like “Am I bugging? Or is it you?” He’s my biggest critic. I’m tryna always get his approval and make the boss happy. And it’s never gonna happen I see (laughs)I definitely gotta come from the street first.

What do you think is one of the biggest misconceptions about Bleek? What is it that you think people don’t know about Memphis Bleek?

Memphis Bleek:

That I’m a stand up guy, like I’m straight up real. I think the biggest misconception I think people have about me is that I’m like a follower. They don’t understand that, I roll by myself everyday. No matter where I go. Like, I don’t see Jay unless it’s a studio session, a show, or a big event. Or if we going to his house for Sunday dinner. Other than that hanging in the street, I’m with my Get Low team. That’s the biggest misconception that we (him and Jay) are in the studio everyday together, picking beats, eating brunch together, flying on the G5 to France and coming back, no! (laughs) People think my life is a Malibu Bay Breeze but in reality its Hennessy straight. I just want people to understand, it’s just me. And this album is gon’ debut that.