If you are a fan of 90s hip hop music, then you know Memphis Bleek. He started out on the streets of Marcy, and became a right-hand man during the Roc-a-fella years. During those years, he put in work alongside the best. He started out as a child star making music and going on tour with Jay Z by the age of 15 years old. These days he is a record executive of his own label Warehouse Music Group. The first two artists he signed were Manolo Rose and Casanova. Both are on a road to stardom. He is also one of the leading forces behind the rise of D’ussé cognac. In his spare time, he pursues his passion of traveling along with his wife. We recently had a chance to sit down to discuss a bit of everything including his plans.
An imprint label under Roc Nation, Bleek launched Warehouse Music Group in 2016. The name of the label came from a recording studio in Miami that Bleek’s friend and business partner Debo owns. Every time Bleek was in Miami he would give Debo a call. Together they would take meetings with various artists and listen to their music. There were some they were thinking about working with, but none of them worked out. Around that time Bleek had met Manolo Rose whose name was ringing in the streets of New York. Bleek gave Jay Z a call to tell him he wanted to sign Manolo, but wanted his blessings. Not only did Jay give him blessings, he offered him a label deal through Roc Nation. That evening Bleek called Debo to give him the good news. To keep it simple they used the name of the studio as the name of the label as well. And that is how Warehouse Music Group was born.
Though the story is not explained this way, Memphis Bleek was a child star. He was working alongside Jay Z when he was only 14 years old. His “Coming of Age” record dropped when he was 15. Shortly after he was going on world tours as an artist. Being a child star and the youngest in the crew made Bleek like a little brother to the team. And that little brother image is something Bleek said he still has not outgrown even though he is grown up. He said he was not always taken as seriously as he would like. But one thing being an executive has offered him is more respect from his peers. They see him dealing with the same headaches they do daily. And while there are many new headaches, Bleek is enjoying the responsibility.
As of now Bleek has signed two artists to his label. Both are from Brooklyn, which is a plus for Bleek. One of them is Manolo Rose, who is from the Marcy Projects like Bleek. The other is Casanova, an overnight sensation from Flatbush.
When Bleek first met Manolo, what excited him most was his sound. He said it was different than what you are using to hearing from New York artists. Everything about his music came out of left field. And on top of that the music was high energy as well as catch. So, you get lyricism along with high energy, which is rare. Looking ahead he sees Manolo as a successful artist in his own right. But even more so than that he sees Manolo excelling at writing music. He said Manolo has already written some major records, but that he was not at liberty to say for who. While trying to describe him Bleek said that he was a mixture of Scarface and Lil’ Jon. That quality is what makes him so unique.
As for Casanova, he sees him much bigger than being an artist. He can see Casanova on the big screen because he is so much of a personality. When they first met what, he liked so much was the rugged street essence that Casanova gave off. It was a feeling he had not seen from many people in recent years. Casanova already had a breakaway hit with “Don’t Run”. He also recently got off tour with Chris Brown, and his mixtape Be Safe Tho has done very well. But Bleek still thinks people are underestimating Casanova by seeing him as a one hit wonder. Comparing him to artists, he sees Casanova as the old 50 Cent. An artist who could speak to the streets with one record, and to mainstream radio with another.
Bleek is also one of the main people behind D’ussé cognac. It is a venture he is very proud of calling it a beautiful thing. He got involved with the brand at its inception six years ago. At that time Jay Z gave Bleek a call saying he wanted to start a cognac, and wanted to have Bleek involved. It was only an idea then, but its grown to be a driving force in the spirits world. Bleek says it has been like watching your kid grow up.
Other than running a record label and major liquor brand one thing Bleek loves to do is travel. He recently celebrated his second wedding anniversary with his wife. She is also an avid traveler so he spends as much time in different places as he can. When he was younger Bleek got to travel the world when he was on tour. But traveling for leisure is very different from traveling for work. During those years on tour he never got to experience the culture, cities, beach and so forth. It was not that he did not want to, but there was no time for it. The itinerary could not fit it in. All he had time for was getting off the plane, going to the hotel, waiting in the lobby to go to the show. After that he would leave for the airport again. That would go on for months at a time.
Traveling is different now though. He has a partner to travel with so he enjoys it to the fullest. It helps that his wife is as into food and travel as he is. He described her as made for him. She wants to do all the things he ever dreamed of, and with her there is a partner to do it with. Once she saw how much thicker Bleek’s passport was than hers she decided they had to start going to more places. She even runs a site called Destination Foodie for foodies that love traveling. An upcoming trip he is looking forward to is a wedding in Bali later this year for a close friend.
When you travel as much as Bleek does you end up having favorite countries. Number one on his list was Ayia Napa, which is an island off the southeast coast of Cyprus. If you are like most people you have never heard of the place, but it is a place he has been visiting since 2004. He was the first American artist to do a show there. On that trip, he made friends with a bunch of people so every year in June he goes back there for his birthday. One of his favorite aspects of the place is the culture. He said Europeans and Africans go to Ayia Napa for vacation the way Americans go to Miami. There are people from Turkey, Jerusalem, Egypt, Ethiopia, and so on.
Another country he lives to visit is Australia. He has been all over. From Melbourne to Sydney to Perth, the country is a treasure. He said it is beautiful beaches, good food, great weather, and close to New Zealand and Fiji. One of his favorite memories from Australia is going to the Steven Irwin zoo to hang out with kangaroos. Also, because the climates are opposite it is a nice place to go in the winter time here because it is summer there.
The third country on his list of favorites was Italy. He has been there more times than he can count, and has seen the whole country. He loves Florence, Rome, and Venice the most. But the best part of the country was the food. Bleek considers himself an Italian food freak so he is happy anywhere in the country. One surprising thing about his first visit to Italy was finding out the lasagna is not real Italian food. It was an American invention.
While he has been to more countries than he can count, there are still some he has not visited. Number one on that list is Egypt. It has always been a dream of his to visit Egypt, but the trip has not yet worked out. He wants to go out there to ride camels and see the pyramids. While that trip has not been set up yet he said he will be going.
As much as Bleek enjoys material possessions he said memories are the only things we can take with us. It is the biggest reason he loves to travel so much. He is not trying to say that material things do not matter. He spent his fair share on them over the years. But he did say those things have not been as rewarding as taking time to see the world. And that is why he will continue to do it.
Moving forward Bleek is focusing on making sure the things he is working on continue to succeed. He wants to see Warehouse Music Group grow to have artists from all over the country instead of only New York. And he wants the artists he does have today to become the biggest stars they can be. Also, he wants to see D’ussé continue to flourish the way it has in the past few years. Aside from that he will spend time with his kids, and travel as much as possible. Other than that, he wants to continue living life like the made-man he is. He put his time in. Now it is about enjoying the fruits of his labor.
Date Posted: Thursday, June 29th, 2017 , Total Page Views: 764
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