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Plies - Topic

Definition of Real Play

Not even a year had passed since his debut, but the second time around Florida rapper Plies displays great growth. His lyrics here are sharper than those on his debut with the trials, tribulations, and triumphs he's experienced living the street life coming through loud and clear. This journey isn't for the weak-hearted, however, as Plies is an unapologetic beast who -- to paraphrase the frightening "Bushes" -- didn't come for your money, but came for your life. "Bushes" is a vivid lesson on how to catch and gut a snitch that could only be written by someone made hard by prison. Even more vicious is "Ol' Lady"'s attitude toward women who, in this case, are commodities used to pay off outstanding loans in lieu of cash. This is guys' night out without any moral compass with one grand exception, "1 Day," a heartbreaking letter to a friend on lockup where Plies wishes he could take his incarcerated homie "by the day care to see his son play/And go to show him how his baby mama went astray." Despite its great Patti LaBelle sample, "Somebody (Loves You)" is less convincing and seems forced upon the album like the other radio-friendly tracks -- "Bust It Baby, Pt. 2" with Ne-Yo, and "Please Excuse My Hands" with the Dream. The compelling three-quarters of Definition of Real that seems to have crawled out of the gutter proves that Plies is best off when he does it the ski-mask way. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi

Da Realist Play

With a spectrum that runs from irresponsible gun talk to irresponsible sex talk, Plies is never accused of being the most versatile rapper. Add unimaginative album titles that always work in some form of the word "Real", plus a crazy release schedule that's seen three official full-lengths in just 16 months, and there's every reason to believe Da Realist is a take the money and run release from a gutter rapper exploiting his leap into fame. Going in a completely unexpected direction, the album actually expands the Plies universe a bit with some decent political commentary such as the damning of mandatory sentences on the inspired "2nd Chance." Production takes a bold step forward on the extremely sparse highlight "All Black," while the whimsical "Spend the Night" -- where the newly relocated Plies seduces the ladies with real estate agent talk and a Cheshire cat smile -- is his brightest sounding track to date. The electronic, Prince-sounding snare on "Want It, Need It" is another clever idea, but the rest of the big moments come from places the rapper's been before, like the thug anthem "Make a Movie" with production from Mannie Fresh or the lightweight bedroom number "Put It on Ya" which for some horribly misguided reason, closes the album. With some minor problems, some minor advancement, and some major moments, Da Realist is an overall winner from a rapper who keeps beating the odds. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi

Goon Affiliated Play

Starting with the cover photograph, Goon Affiliated looks like a standard issue Plies release, one that falls right in line with his satisfying debut trilogy of albums. That scrappy trio of releases successfully argued that goon rap is all about staying the course and sneaking in the radio numbers, but the gritty rapper's fourth release is slightly off balance, made wobbly by a complete disregard for anything slick. “Go Live” is loud and proud to be a gangster, “Bruh Bruh” is the kind of silliness that's brightened the man's previous efforts, and the great “Look Like” with Young Jeezy and Fabolous suggests Plies should put more collaborative tracks on his releases. All three are the kind of irresponsible bravado fans crave, but leaving the pre-release promo single “Medicine” with Keri Hilson off the final official release deprives the album of some desirable polish. Plies refuses to give an inch throughout the album, and with producers like J.R. Rotem, the J.U.S.T.I.C.E. League, and Zaytoven all joining in the street spirit, things get downright narrow. Without even the slightest concessions, Goon Affiliated isn't the Plies album to start with, but fans who never wanted their gutter hero on the radio to begin with should file this next to their favorite mixtape. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi

The Real Testament Play

Plies was known as a loud mouth plus loose cannon -- a jail sentence on gun charges had him replaced by Snoop Dogg for the Akon collabo "I Wanna Love You" -- long before most even got to hear him, and his debut is just about everything you want from thug who is as ambitious as he is vicious. Even if there are redundant tracks and some potential unreached, these are small sacrifices to make when one gets to hear someone combining fresh, talented, cocksure, and driven as well Plies does. "Shawty" and "Hypnotized" featuring Akon -- paying Plies back for sitting out "Love You" -- is the rapper at his most polished while "Kept It Too Real" and "1 Mo Time" is the man at his most dangerous. Both styles are executed successfully and the album knowingly favors the street tracks where Plies sounds most at home. Production from Midnight Black, Jonathan "JR" Rotem, Drumma Boy, and others satisfies, and just enough guest artists help anchor the album, along with "Runnin' My Momma Crazy," which does the reverent, sentimental, "I'm hard but I love my mother" track very well. An energetic artist with little refinement, Plies puts his rough edges to good use on The Real Testament, an exciting, sometimes promising, debut. ~ David Jeffries, Rovi
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