Album Review: Plies, Da REAList

Da REAList is not Plies' meditation on Platonic realism; it's mostly just demonstrably false braggadocio and sentimental hooey. (He could have eliminated this confusion by calling it Da REALest.) The main problem is that a July Hip Hop DX report showed that despite his claims to be a lifelong thug, he's actually only been arrested twice, fairly recently, for misdemeanors. (He also studied sociology for a time at the University of South Florida.) And so unlike his album of just six months ago, Definition of Real, this time the listener sees right through the tracks about how hard he is -- "Me & My Goons" and "All Black" are particularly transparent.  

Even when he shows his softer side it's tough to swallow. On "Family Straight," for example, he speaks of an aunt with AIDS, his father's struggle with drugs, and his cousin's under-age pregnancy. "I'm tired of answering my phone and hearing bad news," he raps. Easily the album's most compelling track, it almost feels real, but one can't help but doubt its veracity due to Plies' track record. Though the twinkling, snap-music influenced beats are sometimes appealing, it's hard to get past Da REAList's absurd story lines.

-- Ben Westhoff 

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