I know what you’re thinking. Didn’t Plies just put out an album? I know, I thought the same...
DJBooth Album Review
That means that after coming out of nowhere with his smash single Shawty, Plies has now released three albums in just over a year, the last one only six months ago. To put that in perspective, if you were to get pregnant while reading this review (and I’ve heard my writing can have that effect), there’s a good chance Plies will release two more albums before you give birth. Now some members of the DJ Booth staff have theorized that Plies recorded one mega-album and has been releasing it in chunks - and that’s certainly a possibility - but I have another answer. I think Plies has stumbled upon a can’t miss formula: start by nailing down the young male demographic with gritty goon rap, get the ladies involved with some radio-friendly sexy swagger, and then repeat, repeat, repeat. Plies’ run as a mid-level rap star won’t last forever, and he’s obviously determined to get everything out of his time in the spotlight that he possibly can. I gotta say, I admire the hustle.
Plies definition of being Da Realist innately involves a casual willingness to kill, a theme he’s made the foundation of his signature goon style. (By the way, I can’t be the only one who wondered if Weezy’s “ok you’re a goon, but what’s a goon to a goblin,” line on A Milli referred to Plies). Plies makes his intentions on Da Realist clear from the start, leading off the album with the pounding Me And My Goons. On Goons a sparse beat paces in the background while he spits lines with the steady of caliber of his Glock 40, exactly what we’ve come to expect from Plies. Nearly every Plies verse sounds the same - he only rhymes the last word of every line and draws out that last word with an exaggerated drawl - but Goons proves his style works, and if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Even better is All Black, a minimalist cut that pulses with the slow energy of a strip club joint, while lyrically Plies is at his most raw and uncut. From the courtroom drama of Co-Defendant to the cash-oriented I Chase Paper and Plenty Money, Da Realist delivers the testosterone fueled bangers Plies’ fans can’t seem to get enough of.
It turns out that just like in real life, women can’t help but be attracted to the bad boy, and it’s Plies role as an unlikely sex symbol, not a goon, that’s made him truly successful. The latest addition to Plies’ lineage of radio jams is Put It On Ya, a track that balances his explicit lyrics with a smooth hook to typically catchy effect. It’s no Hypnotize, but it’s enough to keep his hit streak alive. The good lovin’ continues on Want It, Need It, a track that improbably takes the anti-goon production of J.R. Rotem and has Ashanti playing the role of Plies’ hook singing booty call. It’s awkward to hear Plies rap over production even Lloyd would think was soft, and to hear the classy Ashanti as the object of Plies’ “I feel your hands in my boxers” affections, but with his recent track record the smart money’s on Want It becoming a hit. Personally, I’d rather not listen to Plies rap about playing hide and seek in his underwear, but I’m far from his target demographic, and if the past year is any indication his adoring female fans should eat up Da Realist.
Here’s where I may surprise you, and myself. There are moments on Da Realist when Plies reveals himself as more than just a killing and f**king machine, and in those moments I find myself captivated by Plies. Take Family Straight, a deeply personal track that touches on his grandmother’s kidney failure and his brother’s incarceration with gripping realness, or even 2nd Chance, Plies’ searching criticism of America’s incarceration-obsessed legal system. It’s no exaggeration to say I’ve listened to a lot of Plies lately, and while he’s far from my favorite rapper, I have to admit he seems to have matured immensely in the last two years. I’m curious to see what he does next, and I’m willing to bet I won’t have to wait long.
DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 12/12/08
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