Memphis Bleek: I'm An Individual
Were at an office in midtown Manhattan. What is this?
This is my clothing company, IMI. It stands for Im an individual. Something we started back in April. Its really picking up now. This is my office.
Do you have partners?
My friend Radu and Danny, they helped start Rocawear. Once they left that and started they own situation, I had came over here and we had a couple of meetings about bringing me in as a partner, making this thing grow and happen in the hip hop world. And it just happened.
What is the style?
Our style is just being an individual. Everybody out here is they own individual, own person. So its all about being a leader, not a follower. The shirt I have on says, Dont imitate. The style of it is setting our own mark for all the youths and adults, everybody. Setting everybody apart. Because if you look at hip hop right now, everybody is the same. Everybody is tough. Everybody dresses the same. Nobody has nothing that sets them aside from everybody else. Thats what IMI is for.
Is your brand similar to Sean John or Rocawear?
Its in the middle of both. We have our urban look and an elegant look. We combine them. We make a dress shirt, like a button up shirt but it zips down in the middle so it is a jacket too. We reverse a lot of things and combine a couple of things. My idols coming up were Guess Jeans, Polo and Nautica. Then once we got involved in Rocawear, that was it.
Where is Bleek at musically?
I feel like Im below where I need to be. Im not in the musical world where I should be. I think that comes from lack of promotion. People dont see me enough. I dont get enough videos, airplay. Its on me. Ill just work harder and itll all happen. Im still working on the new album right now. It should be out the fourth quarter. I dont want to rush it. I want to take my time. Hopefully, itll be a classic. And the label will stand behind me like they should.
Are you with Def Jam now?
Im wherever Jay goes. My deal is basically a lifetime deal. Its not a contract we renegotiate over and over. Without paperwork, Im signed. Jay is like my big brother. Wherever he go, whatever decision he want to do, Im there 100%. Im still Roc-A-Fella. Roc-A-Fella exists. Kanye. Young Gunz. Both companies merged.
Do you think youll get a better, stronger push this time around?
I dont know what situation is better because I dont know the business. I dont know the logistics about whats going on behind closed doors. But from what I know, it feels like a better situation. It feels like it has the potential to launch me in a better situation than what I was previously in. But who knows? Time will tell us that.
What producers are you working with?
I didnt start on my album yet. Ive been trying to think of the framework of it, the title, the concept, what Im going to go at, what Im going to talk about this time around. Get all of that down. Im thinking of numerous producers. I know everybody. It depends who gives me the right material. Whoever got that heat, see Bleek.
Talk about your evolution as an artist. I know a while back you were dealing with some personal stuff.
Every album I release I have one of those songs. Its sad to say that it always takes an album or a song I have to write about someone who passed away or something tragic that happened in my life. But hey, thats how life has been going for me. I think this time Im going to do a more personal album. Get more into my life in detail, letting people know whats going on with me. I try to keep that off the mind. When you think about it, it turns you into a different person. Im definitely in a better place. Last year I wouldnt even be thinking about coming to work. You see Im at work, in my office, every day, 9 to 5. I definitely came up as a man. Im not a child running the street no more. I got a lot of responsibilities, lot of people to look after, family. I definitely see myself as an artist growing and have more room to grow.
You seem to like making party songs.
Thats my zone right now. I like to make club records. The whole reaction of going in the club and doing a show and when that beat drops and seeing the whole dance floor shake and vibrate off your music, thats the best feeling. Thats the type of music I like to make. That makes people make reactions and they lose they mind on the dance floor. Im definitely going to come with some more club music.
What do you think it will take to bring the East back?
The East aint never went nowhere. We still here. We doing our thing. We got a lot of talented artists capable of doing numerous things. They just have to think about themselves. Thats the problem with the East. Everybody thinking about the next man. I understand people think beef sells records. Not if you dont have a hit to follow that beef up. If the radio aint playing the smasher, you aint going to sell nothing. Everybody down South, mid West, they have fun and they have fun together. Not only by themselves. They dont go have fun in the club and diss the next man having fun next to them. Thats why they successful. Its good music. Thats why R&B now, its picked up. Sales went up 50% this year. Why? You listen to an R&B song and they not talking about the next person. You not going to hear Gerald Levert in an R&B song talking about R. Kelly. With rap thats what you hear. People get tired of that. I cant even listen to a whole album no more. Cause you going to hear something about somebody else. Im the type of person where if you feel like you have a problem with that man, you step to him and say something. You dont go in the studio and write about another man. Thats homo to me. I was raised, if I have a problem with you I have to see you. Then after that if I have to talk about it in a record, then I talk about it. But Im not going to slander your name and I dont even know you just because I feel a vibe. Thats wack. Thats corny. People just use that to sell records now. Thats it.
Do you speak to Camron?
I never spoke to Cam. I dont know him. Hes a nobody to me. Never were friends. Never will be.
How do you feel about his song going at Jay?
I feel thats a coward move. Def Jam is on 50th . You live on 145th. You can drive 60 blocks and come see that man. You dont have to make a record. If theres a problem, do something. We work 9 to 5. Our cars are parked on the same block every single day. If theres a problem, do something. Dont talk about me and now I cant see you. Where you at? Thats wack to me. You aint going to hear me making a record about nobody. If its a problem, Im coming to see you. Straight up. Address that problem to me to my face like a real man. And I dont have security, never did. I will e-mail anyone in the rap game my itinerary, only me and my homies. You never hear Memphis Bleek going off the limb talking about nobody. I dont have no problem with nobody. I dont think about other people that much. Im happy when a person doing his thing, sells millions of records. Im glad. Another successful African-American like myself coming through the same struggles I did. I feel like a sucker by hating on his situation. But hey, you open the door on us and you give us leeway to do whatever we feel to you.
Do you speak to Dame Dash?
No. I dont have nothing to say to him neither. He cool. I can never diss Dame. Hes an OG to me. When I was 16, they gave me a record deal. He showed me a lot. I learned a lot from him so to sit here and slander him, Id be a coward for that.
You seem very professional and business-like right now.
I learned that from watching Jay. I want to continue to do business. I dont want to only do business for right now. When you live the rowdy life, that only works as long as people are going to tolerate your bull crap. When you do business as a professional, people of higher status will come sit down and talk to you because they know you professional with it. Im too old to be acting like a kid. I cant do it no more. I got my young artists coming up to do that for me.
Do you think its a blessing or a curse to be Jays protg?
I feel like I get too much pressure put on me. # 1, when I drop an album people want it to be better than Jay. But Im like 95% of the rap game aint better than Jay. So they put all that pressure on me, and in a way its good because it makes me work harder, but on another hand its a curse because my album takes the brunt fall for it because Im not on his level or greater than. I just work harder. I feel like its good to be in this spot. # 1, I dont have to worry or work, or do nothing. I do everything because I choose to. Im a man on my own. But if I was just a lazy man, I could sit back. Jay already gave me the key to the door to say youre a millionaire. You dont have to write rhymes. But Im a man first so I want to go get my own millions before I have to use the break glass in case of emergency. But I think its a blessing for me.
Any last thoughts?
Check out this IMI line. Its the hottest clothes to hit the streets. If you a leader and not a follower, these are the clothes you need to be in.