As far as artists trying to have it both ways – that is, keeping their street cred intact while selling records at the same time – few currently have it figured out like Plies. The Florida-born rapper made sure everyone knew how real he was by including the word in the titles of his first three albums, yet a couple of top ten pop hits probably deserve more than half the credit for helping him go gold every time out.
To paraphrase Janelle Monae, Plies is still doing the tightrope on his latest, Goon Affiliated. What happens, though, when the radio hits stop coming? That might be a pressing issue, as none of the singles released so far have caught fire and nothing else has the feel of an obvious smash.
That leaves him falling back on his grimier stuff, and while there’s nothing wrong with tracks like “Go Live” and “Get My Niggas Out,” there’s nothing particularly memorable either. And that goes for the beats as well as the lyrics.
But just when you’re about to say “hell no” to the whole thing after the ridiculousness of “Bruh Bruh” and “Goonette,” it dawns on you: Plies is pretty funny and clever when he wants to be. It’s a little twist of humor that elevates “Rob Myself” above most songs where rappers talk about how rich they are, and the chorus of “Awesome” can’t help but make you smile.
“Model” features Plies telling the world that he’s too good looking to a be a rapper (“How ya’ll say it up North? No homo?”). And while guests are few, Young Jeezy and Fabolous stop by to explain why it “Look Like” they all sell dope.
Yet the most interesting track didn’t even make the final cut, appearing as a bonus on the deluxe version. “Letter” is a much more on point indictment of the music business and the mindset of certain rappers than you’d expect from someone, like… well, Plies, and the beat incorporates the sound of a typewriter to good effect. Why he and/or the label decided to leave it out is anyone’s guess.
Maybe it just didn’t fit the formula that Plies has followed to success thus far. It’s just that the blueprint is showing signs of fraying around the edges on Goon Affiliated, so a Plan B is probably not a bad idea at this point. There’s more to Plies than meets the eye, he just has to decide if he wants to show it to us or not.
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