5, 3, Maybe 4 ?
The Roc continues to move on in the absence of Jay-Z but we have yet to see if anyone other than Kanye West can match the success of the living legend. Memphis Bleekâ€šÃ„Ã´s latest release doesn’t even come close. With a barrage of lame thug-love songs and would-be club bangers 534 only further proves that Bleek cannot carry an album on his own. Producers Just Blaze, Ninth Wonder, and Swizz Beatz round out the album to the best of their abilities, but Bleekâ€šÃ„Ã´s raspy, lack-luster delivery struggles to stand out on anything other than a hook. At times you may even hear him repeat a verse twice in a song and wonder if it was actually the chorus. While some of the albumâ€šÃ„Ã´s production is incredibly fresh, the best lyrics on the album are provided by Jay-Z on yet another farewell track. The Jay solo entitled â€šÃ„ÃºDear Summerâ€šÃ„Ã¹ is so ridiculously out of place one may suspect that it was included as an incentive to purchase Bleekâ€šÃ„Ã´s album. As the song is a must have for any Jay- Z fan. Along with â€šÃ„ÃºSmoke The Pain Awayâ€šÃ„Ã¹ and â€šÃ„ÃºStraight Pathâ€šÃ„Ã¹, which actually show signs of emotion and versatility from Bleek, Jayâ€šÃ„Ã´s guest appearance may save the album from certain doom in record stores.
534 is far from classic and far from being noted as a solid album. However, Bleek is an acquired taste for some and does maintain a fan base that surely wonâ€šÃ„Ã´t be disappointed. If you are not one of these people then steer clear unless you think it may be worth having the three or four solid tracks that 534 has to offer.