Rule number one for any creative person is to know your audience. Few rappers have figured this out as quickly as Slip N' Side recording artist Plies [click to read]. Though the Florida native came up as a self-described goon, he has focused much of his energy on pleasing his women fans. From The Real Testament's street love anthem "Shawty" to Definition of Real's [click to read] "Bust It Baby Pt. 2," Plies has given the fairer sex just as much attention as he gave killers and dope dealers.
For his third full-length released in less than 18 months, Da REAList, Plies once again dials up the charm to be the bad boy that girls love. Leaning heavy on to-the-point come-ons and hood flair, he sticks with the themes that have defined previous albums: prison terms, street running, and mind-blowing sex. The chirping backdrop for "Street Light," effectively delivers Plies' lady-pleasing formula; however, that success is short and sweet. For much of Da REAList, Plies struggles to maintain the charisma demonstrated on "Street Light," instead jumbling his redundant lyrics with characterless production.
"Me and My Goons" and "Spend the Night" are both shackled by beats that could easily be mistaken as soundtracks for an 8-bit video game. Those grating sounds are then worsened by featherweight raps about street life and bedroom talents. This bad boy lover persona causes Da REAList to swerve in-and-out of themes so much that the project never connects or flows smoothly. Just as the booming "Pants Hang Low" accelerates the pulse, "Put It On Ya" veers back to tired sex talk like "Let's play hide and seek, in our underwear/I find you, I can get it right there."
Enticement and goon activities thankfully take a back seat during "Family Straight." Set to a tragic melody, Plies thinks out loud about several setbacks and heartbreaks affecting his family members. The song stirs intense emotions, as does the ghostly "2nd Chance." Going deeper into the theme of Definition's "100 Years," Plies speaks out against a court system he believes shows mercy only to white defendants. He criticizes the unbalanced scales of justice, solemnly rapping:
"Wish I had one chance, to sentence the judge kids/
And watch them beg for they life like my nigga did/
Give them a life sentence, for some shit that wasn't big/
'Fore they get granted they appeal, they got to do 10/
Shoe got to be on the other foot for you to understand/
The scariest shit in the world to be a black man."
Da REAList is most authentic when forgoing game-running in favor of these more candid sentiments, but the honesty expressed in "2nd Chance" and "Family Straight" are sadly overshadowed. Plies relies heavily on tricks that have worked in the past rather than develop more substantive music that is just as accessible. Da REAList delivers on Plies' tendency to target his core audience, but doesn't offer much else.