Florida rapper Plies keeps it "Real" on 2nd album
By Hillary Crosley
NEW YORK (Billboard) - Rapper Plies says he's plenty aware of the hip-hop marketplace's short attention span, which is why he's releasing his sophomore album, "Definition of Real," less than a year after his 2007 debut, "The Real Testament."
Due June 10 via Slip-N-Side/Atlantic, the release is heralded by the single "Bust It Baby Part 2" featuring Ne-Yo. The track is No. 2 on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart after just 13 weeks, making it a clear summer hit.
"I strategically work with who I respect as a fellow artist," Plies says. "I met Ne-Yo in California and he told me how big a fan he was of my work and I told him the same about him. Then he blessed me with the 'Bust It Baby Part 2' chorus, which has been the quickest-growing record in my history. I can't thank him enough."
The new album also features guest turns by Trey Songz, the-Dream, Keyshia Cole and J. Holiday.
Born Algernod Washington, Plies was raised in Fort Myers, Florida. The MC was attending the University of Southern Florida in the late '90s while his brother, Ronell "Big Gates" Levatte, was launching hip-hop label Big Gates, and soon found himself in front of the mic.
While struggling to teach one of Big Gates' artists the hook for a song, Plies recorded his own as a demonstration. But Levatte heard it and was impressed enough to offer Plies a deal. He soon broke through with mixtapes that were sold hand-to-hand around Florida and garnered the attention of Slip-N-Slide Records CEO Ted Lucas. Lucas signed Plies in 2004 and two years later brokered a distribution deal with Atlantic for his albums.
Mainstream recognition arrived in summer 2007 with the single "Shawty" featuring T-Pain, which offered a radio-friendly hook more in the vein of R&B. The track reached No. 2 and No. 9 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs and Billboard Hot 100 charts, respectively, while "The Real Testament" has sold 498,000 copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Continued...