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Maybe it’s because this honey-complexioned heartthrob makes the young ladies swoon with bedroom ballads like platinum single “Shawty” and certified gold singles “Bust It Baby Part 2” and the Akon-assisted “Hypnotized.” Or it could be the way the streets respect this hard-edged hustler for crude but honest depictions of life in the belly of the beast on cuts like “Bid Long” and “100 Years.” Or perhaps it’s how the Fort Myers, FL native bears his soul onto heartfelt tracks like emotional testaments “Somebody (Loves You)” and “Family Straight.”
Whatever the reason behind his many musical accomplishments, Plies has done something that only a small handful of rappers could ever accomplish. In just a few short years, he has won over just as many starry-eyed teenagers and hardcore thugs as he has bleeding hearts and R&B fans alike.
Scheduled to be released on June 8th, his fourth album in three years, Goon Affiliated, one of the realest rappers to breathe on a microphone sticks to the same straightforward style that has garnered him across-the-board success.
Proof positive of his uncommon achievements of winning the respect of the hard rocks and admiration of the ladies is the R&B-tinged serenading single “She Got It Made.” He pours his unmistakable moan over airy synthesizers, mid-tempo production and a catchy hook to spoil his main squeeze with designer gear, extravagant homes and cars and trips from Maine to Spain.
And on the slowed-down tempo of “Look Like,” Plies for the first time invites other rappers to feature on a track. He shines like a diamond with Bedrock-sized stones around his neck beside Young Jeezy and Fabolous. Pushing rhymes like weight, they serve uncut rawness sprinkled over guttural Sunday morning organs, old school 808 claps and high-pitched piano chords.
“I never got pigeonholed when I came in the game. I was always accepted through different avenues,” Plies explains. “I can be creative and articulate. I can tell you about everything going on in the streets. I can make a record to have your significant other singing seven days a week. And I can touch you on an emotional side. I just do all four of those things through my own life.”
Deriving his on-stage moniker from hometown slang which refers to big money drug dealers, Plies grew up in the small East Dunbar community. Realizing early on that the street life only resulted in a dead end road to hell or jail, he joined his older brother in running independent label Big Gates Records after graduation from Fort Myers High School.
Although Plies never intended on being a rapper, he recorded the chorus to indie single “Tell Dem Krackers Dat” after the original artist couldn't say it correctly. His brother encouraged him to continue rapping and before he knew it, “Tell Dem Krackers Dat” had won regional fame and fell into the lap of executives at Miami-based independent powerhouse label Slip N' Slide Records.
SNS released Plies’ debut single “Got 'Em Hatin” under a joint venture and the song caught on like wildfire. Plies released his RIAA gold debut album The Real Testament in 2007 and returned a mere 10 months later with his sophomore release The Definition of Real.
Thanks to the success of his Ne-Yo-assisted #1 single “Bust It Baby Part 2,” Plies once again struck gold. Just six short months later, Plies came back again with album number three- Da REAList. And now for his fourth album, Goon Affiliated, Plies brings the same reckless, uncompromising ghetto grit that we all just can’t seem to get enough of.
“Goon is a term that exemplifies a person that’s principle driven. Values are definitely a big part of their character,” says Plies. “It’s a person that comes from little of nothing but willing to stand on those principles and let those principles be nonnegotiable.
He continues, “A lot of times people don’t think you can have a nine to five, go to college, be athletic or be a goon and possibly be living in suburban America. A goon is a person that believes in what they believe in but willing to take drastic measures and stand firm on what they believe in.”
And that is exactly what Plies has done throughout his career. He has never been bent, broken or conformed to what the rest of the music industry was doing. When everybody else is going left, Plies chooses to take the high road and blaze his own paths.
Take, for example, the vivid description he divulges about the horrors of being hooked on ecstasy, Xanax and Oxycontin on digital bonus track “Chirpin.” From insomnia to paranoia to numbness and uncontrollable sweats, Plies pulls no punches. Nothing is sugar coated for the weak at heart.
“Substance will always outlast that big record on the radio,” he contends. “I got songs on my albums that have never hit radio. But I can perform those records anywhere in the country and the response is just as big as the number one records.”
On “Gotta Get My Niggas Out,” he sends a kite to his people on lock down to keep their heads up. He even encourages others to reach out to their loved ones behind the fence as well.
“You got some people that probably ain’t wrote their people that’s been locked up in five, six, seven, eight years,” says Plies. “Records like that challenge you to regain those connections and those ties again. A lot of artists don’t do that. Anytime you make millions of dollars, problems are the last thing that a lot of people want to pay attention to.”
Even though he moves mountains when discussing the dramas of life, Plies isn’t only about hard times and the struggle. The digital bonus track “Medicine” featuring sultry songbird Keri Hilson is so hot that it recently became one of the most added in urban radio. And with good reason Atop a mid-tempo Polow Da Don-produced gem accented by butter soft chimes and trunk-rattling 808s, he numbs the ladies all over like Novocain.
But perhaps Plies is at his most dangerous when on tracks like the braggadocios “Awesome” as he spews confident raps over hard-driving kick drums competing with menacing strings and jumping horns.
“It’s important for me to give the audience me. We wanted to make sure coming into the music industry that we stood for what we believed in. Regardless of the amount of money that was on the table, we said that we weren’t going to turn into music whores. We’d rather walk away from the game,” says Plies. “I’d probably be bigger as an artist doing things that I don’t believe in. But I’m one of the few artists that came in this game and still stand on the same principles, values and morals that I do going into my fourth album.”
Backed by the production prowess of such heavy hitters as Justice League, Zaytoven, JR Rotem, and his own in-house production team World Music Group, Goon Affiliated is as much musically satisfying as it is lyrical. Plies has never let us down with the realness- no matter how bitter-sweet the truth may be.