While Jay-Z has received many props for his label Roc-a-Fella records, to be honest anyone expecting records from anyone except Jigga himself has been pretty disappointed. Overrated DJ Clue dropped a lackluster compilation, the 'Streets Is Watching' OST wasn't too impressive and Christion don't seem much more impressive than any other R & B group. However, now we've got the first non-Jay-Z solo rap album from the label, 'Coming of Age' from Jigga's protege Memphis Bleek.
Lets be honest from the start: 'Coming of Age' is a bad album. Memphis Bleek is to Jay-Z what Ja Rule is to DMX; a weak copy. This is highlighted on Ja's track 'Murda 4 Life,' which is reproduced on here seemingly to get more attention to the LP. This probably wasn't too wise a move as the track isn't very impressive, but maybe one or two people will buy an album based on Ja's involvement. Also taking after Jayhovah, Bleek manages to fill his tracks up with terrible hooks, including on 'Thug Nigga' where he rhymes "Thug nigga" with "thug niggas."
However, what Bleek seems to have missed is that amongst all of this, Jay still managed to have skills. As you find immediately when you hear 'Memphis Bleek Is,' the first single produced by everyone's favourite, Swizz, Bleek isn't quite as talented. Over a distracting loop, the verses fail to keep your attention and a hook that declares "Memphis Bleek is money" doesn't do it any favours either.
Luckily, some of the album isn't quite as bad as I've made it out to be. Nicer production on 'Regular Cat' makes this one of the highlights, and 'I Wont Stop' actually manages to put Bleek over an upbeat track more successfully than most of the rest of the LP. While these moments make it worth a listen or two, the fact that in most ways Memphis Bleek is an under whelming MC stop this from ever being a great album.
While if you liked Bleek on his guest appearances you may be more lenient on his debut than I am, it's hard to ignore the fact that he has nothing really to separate himself from most other rappers. Even if you did like him on, say, 'Hard Knock Life's intro, you won't be finding any Primo gems to make him sound better on this. If you thought Roc-a-Fella would help Def Jam's severe decline, 'Coming of Age' will disappoint you.