In fact, Plies is sort of a genius.
Obama won a second term on Tuesday, despite the fact that crucial swing state Florida (aka America’s penis) will not have its results in for another two months. To celebrate the occasion, certified goon rapper and Florida Dade County resident Plies put out “Obama Forward.”
That’s cute, you are thinking, that ridiculous dude who I know about from a couple kinda gross songs with T-Pain and that song about how white chicks give good brain decided to get political.
Not so fast. While you were scoffing at Plies calling his girl “wet wet” on “Bust It Baby,” he was steadfastly building up a deep catalog that is introspective, intelligent and occassionally hilarious. In short, Plies is a way better rapper than you thought he was.
“Obama Forward” isn’t just cool because it’s a political statement from an unlikely source, it’s also moderate and well-researched. The hook is “Rome wasn’t built in a day”--Plies openly acknowledges Obama’s somewhat disappointing first term without abandoning hope. He also namechecks the “crack laws,” the laws Obama passed to reduce the disparities between sentencing for crack and cocaine possession. That was a huge step forward that we don’t hear about very much.
So enter the video for 2010’s “Why You Hate Us,” in which Plies plainly breaks down racial conflict in America. He spits in a noose and in handcuffs in between shots of Martin, Malcom, Biggie, Tupac, Bushes and numerous working-class black people. It’s not a complex song and it’s one long verse, but he lays out all the inherent advantages white America has over black America. It’s a great counterpoint to “Obama Forward”: here is why black people inherantly don’t trust white people, and thus why black people give a black president a lot of room to work while the rest of the nation gets frustrated.
My beef with political rap these days is that it starts somewhere smart and tends to go over a cliff with chemtrails, 9/11 truth conspiracies and the Illuminati. Meanwhile, America has a 250+ year history of totally confirmable racism and benign neglect. Like Killer Mike’s “Reagan,” these two Plies tracks are bare-bones facts.
But wait! There’s more! In the grand tradition of southern OG’s like Scarface and Trick Daddy, Plies has a bunch of soulful jams questioning the street life. “Worth Goin Fed For” is my favorite; plenty of rappers take it as a given that you can’t deal drugs forever (in the words of Biggie, you either get shot or go to jail), but few spend an entire track wondering if “twenty-five years worth two years of ballin.” Not surprisingly, he spends a lot of time worrying about his family on tracks like “Runnin My Mama Crazy” and “Family Straight”; the stakes are higher than his own lavish lifestyle. Leaving the dope game also means letting his struggling extended family down.
(Not surprisingly, Plies also put out a sad Trayvon Martin tribute, with a video full of racial harmony and symbolic Skittles.)
But Plies isn’t just hitting up Obama rallies and frowning at his jewlery in the mirror. He’s also making some of the dumbest and therefore best rap you haven’t heard. Enter “She Got It Made” which flips Jimmy Buffet’s “Pina Colada Song.” I guess this isn’t really a surprise because, well, Florida is Florida. You're going to listen to this now and be like “holy fuck turn it off,” but listen to it when you're drunk and you'll change your mind. Other great stupid Plies concept songs include “Rob Myself” (where he realizes he has so much money he wants to rob himself) and “Model” (in which he decides to stop rapping and just be a model because he looks so good). Oh also, the cover of his first album is him magically springing out of a bible, so that's also a thing that is good.
All this comes together on “Pants Hang Low,” in which Plies celebrates the joys of letting your ass hang out your jeans over a hot-ass Mannie Fresh beat. The video (which for some reason isn’t on YouTube, or seemingly the rest of the internet for that matter) is one of those hard-to-follow hood documentaries--they interview a bunch of locals about why they sag their pants or why they hate it when the local goons sag their pants. The kids say it gives them swag and the girls like it, and the resident old timer says this wasn’t what he fought for when he was fighting for civil rights (really). Then the cops arrest one of the kids and tell him to pull his pants up. Mannie Fresh wears a Captain America shirt.