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Album Review

Plies, 'Da Realist'

December 29, 2008
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Hip-Hop
PLIES DA REALIST
ATLANTIC
ESSENTIAL "Family Straight"

On his blunt and true critique of the hip-hop industry and the fawning media, Plies says, "To be the best rapper, you gotta tell lies." On his third and finest CD in 16 short months, the Florida-based MC has emerged as one of hip-hop's best by dropping unvarnished, aggressive songs with unsparing detail. He's improved his game here by cutting the thug-love nonsense to a minimum (though the hooky "Want It, Need It" is terrific). It's not that we haven't been here before, but Plies brings menace and an unnerving swagger to every line. This could be pure formula, but there's more to it than surface noise and nastiness. In deft v??rit?? verses, Plies spins tales of those left behind by the American injustice system ("2nd Chance") or his own AIDS- and crack-riddled family (the riveting "Family Straight"). The 'hood anthem "Pants Hang Low" is pure defiance and won't win him favor with Barack Obama. Whether you buy all this as the definition of real is immaterial; it sounds true, and in hip-hop that's all that matters. (Out now)

KEN CAPOBIANCO

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