The bulldog has some of the strongest jaws in the animal kingdom. The ancient English breed is highly popular for both its comical appearance and fighting spirit. It was originally bred to bite down on the noserings of wild bulls and bring that ring to the ground in bloody animal fights. It doesn’t attack very easily, but when it clamps down, it can be very persistent. The Down South derelict Plies resembles that dog. He looks funny, barks funny, but when he charges: betta watch out for his bite.
“I’m not no lyrical nigga, dog,” the Florida up-and-coming artist pleads on “From the Bottom to the Top” with almost as much conviction as the falsely accused security guard Richard Jewell denying his involvement in the 1996 Atlanta Olympic bomb attack. On his collaboration with one of the most sought-after street producers, DJ Drama, the artist, born and bred in Fort Meyers, Florida, shows he will do anything to get on top. Even rhyming, if he has to.
Everything surrounding Plies’ street gutter image is consistent. On his website, pliesworld.com, the artist mentions he grew in a part of Fort Meyers that was known throughout as Pakistan. In that particular country you need to at least look like a warlord to stay in one piece, if that is what he is referring to. His golden denture is impressively shiny and menacing. He shows off his tattoos like 50 Cent does his dried up bullet holes. His angled jaws literally resemble those of a mad bulldog. Even the big-chested female fans at his MySpace site look like they could tear you to smithereens.
When first laying eyes on Plies I couldn’t help thinking: “Is this guy for real?” His over-the-top frown, and retracted upper lip made him look rather funny. The skits he does on his DJ Drama special feature make him sound like a raggedy street bum gone alcoholic in an average blaxploitation flick. In other words, his buttery southern street accent makes him sound rather funny. But when he starts growling, you start to understand why Plies has made a name for himself in such a short time.
Doing an appearance on one of the most popular mixtape series never hurts your career, and DJ Drama proves yet again why his Gangsta Grillz series is becoming a brand name as strong as McDonalds is in Japan. The first songs on “From the Bottom to the Top,” undone from the unavoidable mixtape shout outs, are solid, grinding thump tunes and the perfect stage for Plies to introduce his slow, no-nonsense rhyming style. Instead of trying to blend his words into tracks, the MC smashes them head-on into the music, almost like Drama’s production boards are out there to get them. This antagonism makes “I Just Want the Paper,” the first full track on the tape, an effective gangster anthem with dramatic outbursts of synthesizer waves, thick Dr. Dre keys, and dribbling synthetic drums. Biggie’s slightly pitched paper claim starts the track off proper, and Plies ploughs through the rhythm with cold fury:
“I like to thank all of you fuck niggas who done went commercial
Because y’all made my job easy, that’s for certain
Don’t try getting back to these streets when it starts hurting
Put your ears to the streets, Plies will close the curtains
I got the real niggas on lock, gotta serve my purpose
Write another diss record cause the last one wasn’t worth it”
“I Wanna F##k You” is Plies’ claim for fame. Akon appearing on the track is an indication this song is set up for some serious chart club grinding. The song is so nasty, it will only get radio airplay when the lyrics have been replaced by a three minute conversational scene from Bambi. Nowadays, clean tracks differ so much from the original, though, that I might be mistaken. After a short skit, “Duck Down,” the strongest composition on the tape kicks in. Drama decided to bring Christopher Wallace to the table once again, and this time he gets his own post mortem verse. The second guest appearance is made by a convincing Trick Daddy, who outshines Plies lyrically with his matter-of-fact low voice.
The three previously mentioned tracks are without doubt the strongest material on “From the Bottom to the Top.” Mr. Gangsta Grillz kicks it down a notch with his beats, which causes most of the drama to subside to the background. Plies does a incoherent track about having “Bond Money” and his rather pathetic apologies to the Lord on “God, I’m Tired of Lying to You” are not in line with his ruthless ambition for the top. Dogs go to heaven too, after all. Maybe he should quit complaining and stay on track.
Plies carries “From the Bottom to the Top” mostly based on dark aura and verbal aggression. Lyrics are not Plies’ main weapons. They merely are means to get him out to the masses. He is in this for grabs, and I don’t think this is someone who lets go once he gets a hold of something.