Lost Tracks: Memphis Bleek & DJ Suss One

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Memphis Bleek & DJ Suss One SIGNED & SEALED

It seems Memphis Bleek has finally resigned himself to the fact that he'll never be the king of New York hip-hop, so he has decided to immerse himself in the more hospitable world of Southern rap. On his July "Signed & Sealed" mix tape, hosted by DJ Suss One, Bleek shows off a languid country flow, mostly over existing tracks from various Southern artists -- Clipse's "I'm Good" becomes "I'm Hood," and he drops new verses over the beats from Plies's "Plenty Money" and Lil Wayne and Birdman's "Always Strapped."

Down-home Bleek doesn't sound unpleasant, but the switch is jarring -- although he has long labored in the shadow of mentor Jay-Z and is obviously looking to try something new, he's still best known for his Brooklyn swagger and aggressive delivery. On "Signed & Sealed," Bleek occasionally adopts Southern slang and even, at times, an entirely new accent.

"Notice I'm for My Fam" and "It Goes Down" are the strongest tracks on the mix tape and the ones that have most in common with the '90s New York rap that Bleek cut his teeth on (heavy on soul samples and snares, light on the voice modulation and bounce). Perhaps Bleek abandoned his dream of New York rap supremacy too soon: A few more years of bar-lowering material from the MCs of his home state, and he could possibly be in a position, for the first time in his long career, to be a contender.

-- Sarah Godfrey

Recommended tracks:

"Notice I'm for My Fam," "It Goes Down"

© 2009 The Washington Post Company