On the cover of his sophomore album, Plies is squatting down, drawers showing, wearing a ski mask and a medallion of himself wearing a ski mask bearing the legend “Goon.” It’s a bizarre photo, equal parts menacing and ridiculous. The photo and the album title both reinforce the point that Plies is trying to make: he may have went gold off of the strength of the baby-making jam “My Shawty,” but he is still the realist rapper alive.
Exhibit A: “I’m Da Man,” featuring a Drumma Boy beat and a Trey Songz hook, with Plies declaring his realness in his syrupy drawl:
“Went to sleep real woke up realer
Who the affiliated ex drug dealer
Resume silent street cred bigger
Click full of soldiers all of us killers
Never seen one I’m what they call a real nigga
Pocket full of cash body full of liquor
Put my whips on it bet he ain’t triller
If I don’t know ya homie hands on pistols”
It may not be Jay Hova, but it gets the point across. He also gets thuggish/goonish on “Bushes” (as in, “Bitch you gettin to yo house, I be right in yo bushes/Jump out with that choppa, actin real foolish/keep bullshittin nigga I’ma be right in yo bushes”), and “Shit Bag,” in which he threatens to beat an opponent so bad he has to use a colostomy bag.
His realness asserted, Plies takes on your girlfriend on “Ol’ Lady,” adding yet another pussyhound track to his already sizeable pussyhound discography. “Dat Bitch,” “Feel Like Fuckin'” and “Please Excuse My Hands” also offer up Plies’ explicit take on romancing the ladies. That is, if you can consider lines like “The best pussy you can get is when you gotta sneak/I call my lil’ baby a shooter; when she nut, she skeet” romantic. He also has his share of club bangers, like “Watch Dis,” “Who Hotter Than Me,” and “Bust It Baby Part 2” featuring Ne-Yo.
That last track points to the biggest flaw on “Definition of Real”: based on the success of “My Shawty,” Plies makes three more stabs at an R&B crossover hit. Besides “Bust It Baby,” there is “Please Excuse My Hands” featuring Jamie Foxx and The Dream, and “#1 Fan” featuring Keyshia Cole and J. Holiday. These slow jams drag the album down, and clash with Plies’ raunchy, goon persona.
He’s more successful when he allows himself to get introspective. “1 Day” is a eulogy to a dead homie, with lines like “Wish I could bring my nigga back for 1 day/ take him by the day care to see his son play.” He strikes a similar chord on “Somebody (Loves You),” which features a sample from a Patti LaBelle song, and on “Worth Goin Fed Fo,” he questions whether the spoils of his lifestyle are worth a 25-year prison bid. These tracks allow him to show a different side of his personality besides the mindless thug and horndog mack, and are among the best on the album.
In the end, “Definition of Real” is basically more of the same for Plies. His slow, confident drawl makes up for his somewhat limited lyricism, and he is backed by some solid if familiar-sounding beats. The album insert declares that his next album, “Da Realist,” will be released December 16, 2008. I’m not sure what Plies has in store, because the vocoder-R&B hook thing is pretty much played out by now, and he is has practically gone through crooners to sing his hooks. As it stands, “Definition of Real” may not be an instant classic, but it isn’t a sophomore slump either, and there are signs that there could be more to Plies beyond his drawl and his love of female reproductive organs.