Plies: Uncle Sam's Curse

posted May 16, 2008 12:00:00 AM CDT | 71 comments

On the arrival into Atlantic Records to interview the Florida rapper, Plies, the television in their lobby spotlights the growing tensions after the Sean Bell verdict sent shivers down the spines of black New Yorkers everywhere. The mind behind the 100 Years record has served as the voice of the unheard since he first dropped Tell Dem Krackers Dat back in 1999.

After the success of his debut album The Real Testament, Plies was able to utilize his name to continue to bring awareness to the hood. But as they say, with great power comes great responsibility, and Plies the man fell under scrutiny via his YouTube casting call for his Bust It Baby reality show.

The Ft. Myers, Florida self-proclaimed goon sits down with HipHopDX for an introspective look at how his career affects his messages, if his reality show is a good or bad look for black women nationwide and why, if you have enough money, you can buy your community service hours.

HipHopDX: Whats up with you, man?
Whats good with it, man?

DX: Cant call it, cant call it The first question I have for you is are you still doing the prison tour?
Yeah, actually I partnered up with Don Diva and were trying to iron out a few things that ended up coming to bite us. For me, initially, we had all the cities lined up, but where Im from in Florida, the Coleman Federal Correction Facility pulled out on me last minute. A lot of others pulled out, as well.

DX: Why did they drop out like that?
A lot of the reasons were because of the music I make. The content of my music was an issue. So, for me, it was about getting in there to talk to those folks, man. Its a real important issue to me and I had to re-shift what it was that were trying to do. Don Diva was fortunate enough to catch whiff of what I was trying to do and theyre trying to help recreate the wheel with this project.

DX: But I dont really get it, man They said that it was the music that made them not want to associate themselves with you, but the things you talk about in your music, go on in their prisons
Yeah, I think that that was the main reason of doing the tour. For me, to be able to be a part of a country that I personally thought I had the opportunity to express what I feel emotionally and what I go through in my life was only right. I never told anyone to burn a prison down, you know? I just gave you my opinion on how, some times, the system can be unjust and unfair to people. I thought it was my God given right as an American to say that. Im willing to continue to fight the good fight to get my word across to the people though.

DX: Thats understandable. The people also are showing a lot of love to your state, man. Florida is really on it right now with yourself, Rick Ross, DJ Khaled and others doing their thing.
Its good, bro. For me, I met [Rick] Ross and [DJ] Khaled at the end. When I first got signed to Slip-N-Slide, it was probably like a year to a year and the half before I physically met Trina or Trick [Daddy].

DX: You were trying to do your thing with the mixtapes on the low, right?
Right. I didnt want to come to an established label as if I was thirsty for a deal, you know. I didnt want to use what they worked hard to get to just let it be handed to me without having anything to bring to the table. So, my brother and I just went out for like the first year and a half, before I actually met Trick and Trina, to put in the work and put worth and value into what I was doing. I wanted to get my feet up under me, as opposed to just working for a hand out.

DX: Youve branched out a little bit too, man Could you talk a little bit about the Bust It Baby reality TV show?
Yeah, man I havent really started that, yet. But I hear a lot of the negative comments about what people perceive to be black women embarrassing themselves and the culture.

DX: It started a lot of shit
Its part of our culture. In my opinion, our culture is the most stereotyped that Ive ever been a part of. Its hard being where Im from. I remember someone saying to me, a while ago, I dont know whats worst to fail or to succeed. For Black America, another black man is not supposed to capitalize off our ignorance. If white America does it, then were like, its cool, its funny. We have no problem with white America when they see how the trappers throw candy paint and rims on they car and now when you go to a dealership, you see the same thing on those cars in the lot. Theyre just newer cars with candy paint, rims and TVs. Its cool for White America to capitalize on our stupidity whether its a liquor store or things of that nature. But our own people never wants to see us capitalize off our true roots. So, I expect the backlash. Whether I make a record like 100 Years or do this reality TV show, I expect the criticism.

DX: So, in your opinion, do you think youre portraying black women in a good light or a bad light?
I feel that anytime its honest then there is no right or wrong. When youre trying to be something youre not, thats definitely wrong. But when you open up a door to show different types of females who are from all different places in the world, express and answer questions, honestly, then thats not wrong. At the same time, anytime someone is not a part of something, theyll be more judgmental than theyd be if they were a part of it. You go to the movies all the time and see the same things.

DX: Most of those ladies in that audition are fans of more of your female-themed songs, you know? So, what would be your top 5 favorite slow jams to listen to when kickin it with a shawty?
Aside from my own music [laughs]?

DX: Yeah, not your own shit [Laughs]
I like a lot of the new shit thats out right now. I like Jaheims Never record thats out, right now. Thats one of my favorites right now. I like Ne-Yos song. I cant think of the title right now, but that would have to be my second favorite. I like Musiq Soulchilds Teach Me record. Thats a hot song. That a classic song, right there. Im fuckin with that Usher track. That Make Love in the Club song is tough. My fifth one would have to be something like Keith Sweat. Thatd be my top five. [Laughs]

DX: The press is really bubbling about this hipster movement thats theyre trying to tag onto people like The Cool Kids, Mickey Factz, Fresh Daily and others here in and outside of New York. Do you think that that whatever it may be could take away from your movement and what you guys are trying to do out of Florida?
Its weird, bruh, because I was having this conversation with my homeboy on the plane. I asked him, Why dont you like the police? I was thinking about it and to be what were a part of or to be where were from, we grow up differently than others. We glorify what the streets call real the most stupid, the most ignorant and rebellious ways of living. The higher you can achieve that shit, the more that we call you real. The reason why they dont fuck with police is because they dont let us be stupid. They aint gonna let us ride around with the music blasting. We done made ourselves believe that this is legal, that we can do that. But soon as your partner get killed or someone breaks into your house, they the first people you call. I never wanted to believe that trap shit. Theres no possible way that Id get on the record and tell people that I sell anything! Its weird that Ive seen so many people risk it all for that cred. But on the other end, those that have made it in the game, I salute them, because they risked their freedom and put it on the line just to get their message across. Its no different than this new movement you speak about. I got to salute that because anytime youre willing to put it all out there on the line to get what you believe in, out, then I have no choice but to salute you. Its easy to be like everyone else. Its just risky as fuck to be an individual. I can never hate on a situation like that.

DX: Another situation thats going on is the Sean Bell verdict that was made recently here in New York. I just got off the train where some kids couldnt be no more than 10, 11 were saying fuck the cops. Do you think that those are the seeds of rebellion? Or are they just listening to too much rap music?
The world is about opinion. Its no different than you saying that you dont like my music. Im cool with that because I dont think that my music should be liked by everyone. I wasnt here [in New York] to see how the verdict affected the people, but it seemed like its a pretty big situation. Its weird, Kev, because the system is what it is. At the time [before the verdict], I thought it was all white cops who shot the brotha. But when I did my research and read more about the situation and learned who did what, I learned that the system is not just white and black. If you dont have the finances to fight the system, youll lose. If youre financially in a better place, your chances are ten times better because youll have someone who youre paying to know every loophole. I done fucked up once and ended getting community service. I can buy my community service. They may give me 600 community service hours, but I can buy that for $1,200. For me to understand how life really works, its important to put myself in situations where you learn from the experience. You see celebrities who find themselves in trouble and they get a slap on the wrist. The system is designed for those who are financially more stable. Your punishment will be less. You can find the representation that most people less off cant really get.

DX: My brother, Jelani and I, were accused of stealing two cars a few years ago during the 2004 elections. We were just registering people to vote, but they still brought out the state troopers, but we ended up able to fight the case. So, I agree with what youre saying
Bro, theres a lot of mafuckas in the system who didnt have that paper. If you aint got it, nine times out of 10, youre going to find yourself in a fucked up situation.

DX: Moving away from fucked up situations, man I know you like women, I love women, dude. A friend of mine wanted to know, "Why are you so nasty?"
Im just honest. I got a record on my new album called, I Feel Like F---in but I dont think that thats nasty because who dont feel like fuckin? I just feel like, for me, Ive always had that opportunity to make what I like to call principle music. Im not the most lyrical dude, I dont want to be that, but I want to make honest music.

DX: But you got the ladies looking at you like youre some new school LL Cool J or something
Dude, its weird For me, I never got in the game, wanting to be like that, but when I got my national look, they ended up working for me. Everyone was so hard at the time, so when you give my record to the streets, it was perceived as different. Now, not saying that Im the reason, but you have a lot of people doing female-driven songs.

DX: Yeah, but this isnt the hold your hand type music of the I Need Love days
I always felt that the music I made was honest. So, being truthful can sometimes be taken too strongly. They thought I was racist after I did the 100 Years record. But it was just my honest opinion about how I felt.

DX: But how does honesty work in such a dishonest business?
Thats my biggest problem. Im not a person who you can tell to do X, Y and Z, without questioning how X, Y and Z is going to help me. You know that poster of Uncle Sam

DX: Yeah
I feel like thats how the record industry is. They just want dumb street niggas. I always tell that to my partners, man. When you have some form of intelligence as an artist, youre considered a problem, but if youre willing to be the puppet, then youre cool.

DX: Does the difficulty help or hurt with your new album coming out?
I dont know, man. I feel like Id rather go down my way, then to go down the way a group of individuals push me down, because when/if that doesnt work, nobody would be around except for me. I know theres a lot Id miss out on because I am not really an industry dude. I just choose not to be a part of it. For me, the networking side of it, I miss out on a lot of things. I like to be under the radar. When youre a part of the media frenzy, thatll be the same thing thatll sink your own ship. Im totally cool with that.

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