|Next Project:||Definition of Real|
|Twitter:||Plies on Twitter|
Last August, shortly after he released his debut album, “The Real Testament,” rapper Plies jumped inside our DJBooth for an exclusive interview. At the time, the Fort Myers, Florida native was riding high with his T-Pain-assisted single, “Shawty,” and had just began etching his name into the mainstream landscape.
A little less than ten months later, Plies is back at it again with the chart-topping “Bust It Baby (Pt. 2),” the lead single off his sophomore album, “Definition of Real.” With the new release, Plies will look to become the first rapper since Nelly (Sweat and Suit) to release more than one gold-certified album in a span of twelve months.
In an exclusive interview with DJBooth‘s DJ “Z,” Plies steps inside the booth to talk about his excitement over the new release, why he constantly eats a slice of ‘humble pie,’ who fit the bill for his current diamond pendant album promotion, and why touring army bases and prisons are at the top of his to-do list.
Listen to the Interview
Plies Interview Transcription
DJ Booth: What’s goin’ on ya’ll? It’s your boy “Z,” doin’ it real big, and joining me inside the DJ Booth is an artist who will firmly define the word “real” on June 10. Please welcome for the second time in as many years, Plies – how you doin’?
Plies: I’m good, how you doin’, how are you, man?
DJ Booth: I’m doin’ fine on my end. I don’t have an album dropping next week, though; you do – you’ve got to be really excited about this.
Plies: I’m more than excited – I’m overexcited. I think this is the first time in my career that I am really eager to see the response to a particular product of mine. I feel like, on the street level, this probably will be the best album of 2008, by far. I’m just overexcited, I’m impressed to know that I’m having the opportunity to come out with two albums in ten months. I wouldn’t have it no other way.
DJ Booth: As you just mentioned, very few artists release more than one album in a twelve-month span, let alone ten months, so what was the thought process, Plies, behind the quick turnaround?
Plies: I think it’s so important, on my end, to be able to use momentum, that I work so hard – not only myself, but me and my staff. I think it costs less money when you’re still relevant, when you’re tryin’ to put out a project, as opposed to goin’ on a two-year hiatus; [it] takes more more money to rekindle that fire again. I always continue to work hard. I pride myself in bein’ one of the hardest-working artists in the business. I just felt like it was a great time to be able to come back and allow people to know again who I am as an artist.
DJ Booth: Plies, considering the chart-heavy success that you saw on your first two singles last year, Shawty and Hypnotize, do you feel like there should have been a bigger push for the third single, or was that really the reason why you decided to just move forward with the new project?
Plies: It was crazy; it was more of a “me” situation than anything else. I feel like you can always listen to music, especially if it has substance to it, it carries over longer than if you make music that’s just one hundred percent lyrical. With my last project, we had giant success at radio, in terms of Shawty being on my record, and [Hypnotize]. But to have the opportunity to come back with a record such as Bust It Baby Pt. 2 featuring Ne-Yo, which is looking to be the biggest record of my career thus far – over eleven thousand spins, and the record is still goin’ up every week thirteen, fourteen hundred spins. To continue to feed the streets, tellin’ the issues that I feel are important, I don’t think that no one could ever get tired of that. I think when you change the formula around, and you’re not makin’ music that’s true to yourself, I think that’s when the problems kick in.
DJ Booth: You mentioned just a second ago the chart-heavy success and the impact that Bust It Baby Pt. 2 is currently experiencing across the country. That came after you dropped Pt. 1, so what was the original plan? Did it work out as [planned]?
Plies: It worked out better than I actually thought. We kinda wanted to do something different this time around and try to release a two-headed monster, a part one that was all me and gave you a fresh look, me bein’ on a record by myself, what we call an underbelly record, and then came back with a part two that we though was going to be a monster at radio. I never thought it was actually going to be this big; I’d be lyin’ to you if I told you otherwise.
DJ Booth: Well, you’re being humble about it; if you had asked me right away, I would have told you that part two was going to blow up like it has, so don’t be so humble about it.
Plies: I think it’s important for me to continue to be humble about anything that happens in my life, whether it’s good or bad. I think any time that you allow yourself to feel invincible, not only in this game but in life in general, I think you’re headin’ down a dead-end road, and for me, I’ve been through enough in my life to kinda understand the dos and the don’ts. As a whole I just always try to pride myself on remainin’ humble, not only as an artist, but as an individual.
DJ Booth: Let’s talk about the new single, it’s the Jamie Foxx and The-Dream-assisted Please Excuse My Hands. Ultra-catchy song, but not always an accepted excuse in real life, at least, I guess, when I’m saying it. Has the, “Baby, please excuse my hands,” line, worked well for you?
Plies: Yeah, I’ve definitely used it before. I think I didn’t use “please,” several times, [I’ve] used some [harsher] words before, too. But I just learned, tryin’ to take my way through life, that ain’t gettin’ me as far as I want to go; tryin’ to be respectful got me further than I’ve ever been. One my end, it’s okay sometimes to incorporate “please” in front of anything that you do.
DJ Booth: Definitely. Manners will get you far. The definition of the word “real” is “non-imaginary, fictional, or pretend,” so considering that hip hop is a form of entertainment, Plies, and for the most part, we both know, entertainment is sometimes anything but real, do you think a listener who purchases your product has the right to scrutinize whether or not an artist – yourself or otherwise – is genuine or
“real” in their work?
Plies: I think life is kinda structured that way, in terms of, people have an opportunity to pass judgment. Like I told someone the other day, I think if I was rapping about fixing cars in every song, there’s gonna be somebody somewhere who [will] say I don’t know how to fix cars; that’s how it goes. Especially in the culture that I’m a part of, it’s worse probably than any other race. But I personally feel that we all have our right to voice our opinion about a situation, but it’s crazy, ‘cause a lot of people that voice their opinion don’t know these particular individuals. Like, for myself, I’m not around anyone the majority of the time except my staff. You could never know what I do, how I do it, when I do it, ‘cause you’re never around me. But for conversation purposes, people always want to portray an artist, especially a successful artist – I think anytime you’re in the underground level, people are cool at what you’re givin’ off, it’s just when you become quote unquote “successful” in the eyes of the public, that’s when people try to scrutinize situations. So for me, I understand that part of the territory.
DJ Booth: Well, hey, you got that right: success is definitely a gift and a curse, but you’re handling it the right way. Plies, the album’s being dropped in conjunction with a promotion that’s giving your fans, both male and female, the chance to win a diamond chain and pendant. So who is frontin’ the bill for these ultra-expensive and very nice prizes?
Plies: Myself – it was important for me not to come up with what I call a gimmick tactic. I feel personally that I’m at a stage in my career where I’ve been blessed, man. I never had to actually participate in that. I think it was important for me to kinda show my appreciation. I got together with my product manager at Atlantic Records, and we just tried to come up with something that we thought was clever. Kind of my whole marketing tool, not only with this project but with my last project, I think it helped me tremendously, and I see people followin’ a lot of the trends that we did for my last album, up to this album. And the diamond chain thing was just something that I personally didn’t see how they wanted to do it, but one day, me and my cousin, [we] did a Bust It Baby piece and we did a Goon piece, and I just feel it was a way of showing my appreciation.
DJ Booth: Well, the initiative that you take is certainly gonna pay off in the long run. If you could, explain the marketing decision to attach the Goon likeness to the image that is the artist Plies, when really your mainstream radio records thus far have all appealed to that teenage, young girl demo.
Plies: If you looked at the playlist of any radio station right now, whether it’s urban or [Top 40], it’s what they’re choosin’ to play right now, and I think business-ly, on my end, I’ll never make a record that’s not true to who I am, as a person. If you look at the playlist of [all] of those formats, nine out of the top ten records on any of those formats are female gender records, so it’s what the stations are choosing to play, but I’m just glad that I didn’t have to switch my gender to cater towards radio; I was makin’ those kind of records before I actually got my national [hit] in terms of Shawty. So for me, to have it follow with yourself, I just thank God for it every morning when I get up.
DJ Booth: Okay, so how would you define yourself as an artist, Plies?
Plies: Honest. A lot of times honesty rubs people the wrong way. There was a record on my last album called 100 Years that talked about my viewpoint on the prison system. That was my viewpoint and how I felt the system treats you when you’re not financially equipped to deal with your legal issues. That was my viewpoint, that was my opinion. I didn’t say it was right or wrong, but I took a lot of backlash for that. If I had to do it all over again I’d make that same record again, because I know how important it was. I feel I could only make music [that’s] true to who I am. I like to define my music as reality music, I like to define my music as principled and moral music, but at the same time I understand my music isn’t for everyone, and I don’t care if I’m not the only artist that everyone’s listening to.
DJ Booth: Well, I’ll tell you: not many artists in the industry who are as big as you are have that same viewpoint. Let’s get into a segment; it’s called “By Request.” Many of our readers sent in questions they wanted to ask you. The first comes from Jordan from San Francisco. Jordan wants to know, “Both of your album titles have incorporated the word ‘real,’ so how important is it for rappers to be ‘real’ themselves, and to their fans? ‘Cause really, what they’re seeing on the television and on music videos is not true to real life.”
Plies: And that’s what I tell people all the time, when people ask me about my favorite artists, or who are some of the people that I respect in the game, it’s kind of different. I have to tell you, I respect [the] business aspects of a lot of artists in this game, but personally I can’t tell you I respect them, because I never met any of them, and I can’t go by what it is they’re sellin’ me to be able to know that’s actual, factual information that they’re givin’. I can respect your business. Actually, if I had the opportunity to meet an artist and be around him and we kick it and spend time together and hang out, it’s the way to define if that person is really selling you what it is that they’re selling.
DJ Booth: Going back to this past question, the rappers in the industry who you have been fortunate enough to either meet because of collaborations or touring, or because of industry contacts, how real do you think they are with you? So, outside of how real they are with the community.
Plies: At the end of the day, it’s a business, and I understand [that], but to work with some of the people that I work with, money can’t buy those features. To have the likes of T-Pain, I’m so thankful that he blessed me with the situation he did with the Shawty record. To have Akon, who at the time was big, and still is one of the bigger artists in the business, to have Ne-Yo, a second single with Jamie Foxx, who’s legendary. And I have a record also with The-Dream, who is one of the more relevant [artists/songwriters] at this time – money can’t buy those features. Those particular individuals have to respect you, not only as a person, they have to respect your craft as well.
DJ Booth: I was just talkin’ to someone the other day. I said, “Plies has got to have the hook-up, ‘cause every artist who’s in demand in this industry, he seems to get collaborations with,” so you’re definitely a lucky man. Next question comes from Tara D. of Fort Lee, Virginia. Tara just found out that you’re going to be visiting different military bases, she’s extremely excited about that – what went into that decision?
Plies: I felt it was important. I tell people all the time: to be willing to sign up and go protect our country and fight for our country, you’re willing to do something that I [wouldn’t be] willing to do. And any time a person’s willing to do something that’s morally right, that’s a notch above my beliefs, I take my hat off to salute it every chance that I get. I have another situation that I’m workin’ on as well: it’s a prison tour, and it’s kinda my celebration, on June 10th, for everybody that’s currently locked up and incarcerated, who can’t be out here to experience it. I wanna celebrate it with them, through this release. The whole Goon element is a reflection of what I like to call the struggle, man, and at the end of the day, regardless of how high I climb up the success ladder, I can never forget where I come from.
DJ Booth: Last year, Plies, I got the chance to talk to Sean P of the Youngbloodz, and he actually had just come back from visiting the troops in Iraq. You said a second ago it was something you’d never want to do in terms of serving, but in terms of serving and supporting the troops in a performing sense, could you see yourself going overseas and meeting with the troops to perform?
DJ Booth: Well, hopefully [both] will take place in 2008. Give everyone a website or a MySpace page, so they can find out more about the new release, The Definition of Real, dropping of course, on June 10th.
Plies: Z, I wanna tell you before I go, man, I appreciate the opportunity. Not only do I appreciate it, and I thank you so much for lettin’ me be a part of what you worked so hard to build, and not only build, but create. I never take it lightly on my end, I just wanna tell you, thank you so much, man, [it means] the world to me.
DJ Booth: Thank you.
Plies: On my end, bro, ‘cause everybody got a MySpace page as some point, mine is myspace.com/plies, I have a pliesworld.com page, and I also have a bidlong.com pages that’s kinda geared toward the prison system, if you got someone that’s locked up, incarcerated, that they’d use the opportunity to go to that page and log on and vent their frustrations. I just think everybody who not only is going out to support my sophomore album, Definition of Real in stores June 10th, but everyone who supported me in my past, [in] my underground situation, for The Real Testament. I appreciate you and everybody who tunes in, logs in to listen; thanks for the opportunity, man – I appreciate it from the bottom of my heart.