Plies' Recent Success Comes From Being His Most Authentic Self

During an honest and of course, hilarious exchange, Plies sheds light on the takeoff of “Ritz Carlton” and not being distracted by his new online fame.

Photographer Sam Balaban
Plies' Recent Success Comes From Being His Most Authentic Self

Plies’ unabashed authenticity and army of social media followers have pushed him into a larger spotlight than he's ever been in before. The recent success of "Ran Off On Da Plug Twice [Ritz Carlton]" is proof that the rapper's long career has entered a completely new phase from the past eight years he's spent as an Atlantic Records signee. While signed to the major label, Plies has had a heavy presence on the street circuit, consistently releasing mixtapes every year since his 2007 debut album, The Real Testament. Even in the thick of the frenzy around his latest single, Plies remains committed to his closest audience with a tour of intimate club performances and unfiltered retellings of his scandalously comedic experiences.

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In 2015, his Instagram account became a place for his explicit storytelling and comedy videos. Much of that attention comes from his “Sweet Pwussy Satday” videos, which he insists aren’t just contrived tales of old rendezvous, but are actually motivated by the genuine urge to share what he’s seen from other people.

At The FADER's offices in New York last week, Plies said that all of the stories are true. “If it’s on my IG it is what it is," he said. "It might be a lot of fucked up situations by it being the honest truth. But, if that muhfucka on my social media then that’s just what it is. Unless it’s something to incriminate me."

Plies is living the good life, not just because of his ability to “vibe” at one of the nicest hotels, but because he's recognized that being his true self is the largest key to his success. Over a long conversation, Plies spoke about his rebuilding process, getting over being self-conscious about his heavy Florida accent, and why he believes he was put on earth to make women feel special.


What’s it been like to see the response to “Ritz Carlton”. It’s had such a viral success. What do you think about the reaction that it got online?

It’s the people. I’m more happy for them than myself. In any real situation they make that shit what it is. I just be more happy for them than me. It was spearheaded by the people. It was one of those unique situations.

How’s it reshaping your thinking about the way you release music or the way that it’s received?

It hasn’t. I don’t let it fuck with me. I put that shit out. We got a system that we put in place in regards to over here. A lot of that shit, I make it and I put it out in regards to my brother and I let him pick what we put out. I just go with the flow. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

You see how social media can bring you success that you don’t necessarily plan for and it can also mobilize the music that you put out. Do you think labels can still do that for artists?

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My situation is a little different. I have a partnership with Atlantic where they let me do my own thing. They let me drive the car for the most part. My situation is one that a lot of people can’t really understand. I’ve been in the situation for a good amount of years that regardless of whether or not I’m on radio or TV, I have a good enough base that shit keeps me moving around just as much as anybody that’s “relevant.” It’s a little different when you’re in the streets. When you’re in the streets, you know what’s going on and when you’re behind the desk I think shit surprises you a little bit more. But for this specific situation and kind of my whole career, to a lot of corporate people doesn’t really make sense.

You’ve been consistently putting out music, but how’s the time been in between your last album and now?

I’ve been rebuilding a house. I’ve been renovating my shit and reinventing myself. It’s just been a process. I guess the old saying goes, “Motherfuckin Rome wasn’t built in a day.” That’s kind of what it is. We’ve just been rebuilding our shit and taking our time. We haven’t been a rush and financially we’ve been blessed to be in the situation where it hasn’t been about the money. It’s been about giving the people shit that they can connect with and real situations.. This whole ”ran off on the plug twice” thing is a reflection of people connecting to the content. For me, I could put out a million records or songs, but if they don’t connect with your core group of individuals out there then it’s just music. I made sure this time around that I took my time. Over the past two or two and a half years I decided to really sit down and don’t be in a rush. Don’t make it about being money but make it about being honest and music that I feel is important to me and if the people fuck with it they fuck with it. If they don’t, they don’t.

Even though you say that you’re not necessarily trying to make club songs, people have fun with your music and it feels good. What’s most fun about what you’re doing right now?

I’m just being me. When I first came in the game, my brother was in prison so it was rough for me. I had the success and I had the money but I didn’t really have the closure I was looking for. It was a vision of his, a street vision. I think now, what makes the shit so unique to me is that, I’m me. No disrespect, but I used to have white people in front of me and I had gold in my mouth and I didn’t want to open my mouth and talk. It felt, not pressure, but I was kind of confused too. Just being a street nigga and I’m from Fort Myers, this shit was kind of a little bit too much for me. At the time, I didn’t really feel like I wanted to open up and just be me. I was trying to keep a lot of things away from me. I wasn’t used to talking to people that I didn’t know. If I didn’t know you, I just didn’t talk to you. But, now I enjoy it more and I think people enjoy me more because it’s that whole aura and that whole persona. People see it in my music and my personality and me doing what I do.

Would you say the people around you are funny?

My brother used to always tell me that all the time. I never used really used to hang around people but me and him did probably 85 or 90% of this shit together. So, I used to say something and he used to be laughing but he’s my brother so whatever. But if I tell you, “Man that pussy was musty.” I ain’t even think the shit was funny. “It wasn’t really stank but it was musty. It was just… musty.” [laughs] For me, the shit wasn’t funny.

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Do you feel like your Instagram is a distraction sometimes from the music that you’re trying to put out?

No, because I’m a maniac about recording music and I just love doing it. My brother always told me, he thinks I’ll fuck with music for forever because he feels that I like for people to hear my opinions and my thoughts. It doesn’t distract me. I’ve just realized enough is never enough. You put up 20 videos a day, muthafuckers want you to put up 25 videos a day. I’ll just let my day play out and I might see something that rubs me the wrong muthafuckin way and I just gotta say it.

What about the robe you wear when you perform “Ritz Carlton?” Why’d you decide to include that?

It was one of those moments. We were shooting the video and I just wanted to do some shit. I’m like, “I do this shit sometimes so let me just do it.” People were asking me how the shit happened or how the dance happened. I hope this isn’t a terrible comparison but, it was kind of like when some people in church get the holy ghost—it was similar to that. It was a moment and for that particular moment that was me feeling me. I didn’t really care if the bitch was recording. We shot the first edit and my brother looked at it and the director looked at it and he said, “I fuck with this but it’s missing something.” So, I’m like, “What is it missing?” He said, “It’s just missing your personality.” So, I was like, “Well, I just got some shit that I did.” So I hit the other director and I sent it back to him again and he was like, “Bingo, that’s it.”

You are able to code switch in a way…

But, that’s what used to fuck me up! I ain’t really wanna talk to people like that because I felt like I had to try to talk to them motherfuckers like how y'all’ talk to me. So, I used to say shit to people and they’d be like, “Huh?” They’d get closer to me and I used to be like, “Damn y’all don’t understand what I’m saying.” I used to just stop talking but now, shit so big now and people opened up their minds and now when I say, “Bihhh,” people just get it. But before, five or six years ago when I used to talk how I’m accustomed to talking, I felt it was a little uncomfortable. The people I was in position to deal with, I didn’t think they cared to understand the lingo or who I was. So I used to just not say shit.

Plies' Recent Success Comes From Being His Most Authentic Self

How would you say the people close to you describe you?

I still don’t let people into my personal world. I’m still a little fucked up in that department. I think people would say that I’m honest. I think that’s my biggest attribute if that’s what you want to call it. I pride myself on being principle driven. I’m honest, I’m ten toes down in what I believe in, I’m loyal as fuck so it’s the principles that I was raised up on. I’m not sacrificing my principles, I’m not sacrificing it for money, I’m not sacrificing it for fame. I ain’t sacrificing it for shit. My principles are my principles and I believe in certain things. I believe in loyalty and being principle driven. It’s my make-up.

Would you say that you’re a giving person?

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Too much sometimes.

In 2008, you offered to pay a girl's tuition and you also went to college yourself. How did that shape your perception?

I ain't offer to pay it, I did. I looked at those cashier checks and me her and are still cool. Coming from Fort Myers, I just knew white and black. I just knew the Dunbar community where I was from and having an opportunity with the football scholarship kind of gave me the time to get the fuck from out my mama’s house. It was another part in my life, it was a phase in my life. I was there for two years before I got kicked out, it taught me a lot that I carry with me now. It exposed me to a lot and in that situation I was kind of like a fish out of water and I still felt like I was that nigga. I had the tricked up caddy and that’s part of the reason I got fucked up but it was fun and when I look back it, it was just a phase and a piece of the story.

What role do your surroundings play?

My conditions are important to me. I have the opportunity to be in the financial space where I could run off into the sunset and the hood doesn’t ever have to see me again. But, that’s not the approach we got into this shit for. A lot of my friends who have golds in their mouth at the same time, some went and played in the NFL, some of them played basketball, off into corporate America. Some did great things for themselves but some of them felt the need to remove that part of it. I’m not saying it’s nothing wrong with that and what they did but, for me, I just feel like that space that I come from that built me.

I still hold onto this shit because it’s not for the reasons that I did it for back in the days, back in the days, I did it because it was a thing to do and a representation for niggas that were getting money but now, it’s part of me and I feel like it represents so many people. So many people may not be so fortunate to experience some of what I experience on the successful side of it and some may never. I have a lot of partners and relatives from an incarceration standpoint, it’s a slim chance to none that they’ll be able to. So for me, my surroundings are a dangerous situation.

How do you balance it?

I don’t, I just pray on that shit. I just try to be a little more wise when it comes to making decisions and the people I have around me. I can’t save the world and everybody in my hood but I feel like I can try and save as many of those muthafuckas as I can. For me, that’s just super important to me right now.

You value giving and making women feel special.

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God damnit I love it. I think I was sent here for that, I really do.

Are you romantic?

What do you consider romantic?

When you’re invested in making a woman feel special.

Give me two examples of what you consider romantic.

There’s the cliche things like flowers. I don’t know, you don’t like jazz do you? [Laughs] A nice dinner...

[Laughs] Ain’t no mothafuckin jazz but I feel like on that side… I’m for real, on some G shit I really feel like that’s one of my callings. I try to understand and women are probably some of the most complex shit I’ve tried to figure out. So I try to study women. Then, I kind of get in this space of, “I just want to try some new shit. I just want to hang around all women. I want to go out and party with all women.”

What have you learned from those experiences?

Y’all talk like a motherfucka. And y’all don’t like other women for real.

That’s not true!

Shit, you a goddamn lie. No, let me say this. Super judgmental.

Some women.

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But, partying—y'all know how to party. Y’all will be talking to each other and next thing you know y’all are partying together. Dudes don’t ever do that.

Have you ever been nervous to approach a woman? You’re very confident so does that happen for you?

I don’t really approach women.

They come to you?

I ain’t finna say all that [laughs] but I don’t even know how to holla at a woman for real.

So, you don’t have any game?

Nah, I ain’t got no flavor. [laughs] I just kick the shit. However shit plays out is how it plays out. I ain’t trying to talk you up out nothing. I don’t feel like I need to talk a woman out of anything because I’m going to give her more than she’s giving me. I just know that. I don’t mean financially but I just know, it’s not fair, it’s not even.

It’s never mutual? You always give more?

It’s just my nature.

Have you always been this confident with women?

Always been confident with women. Ten minutes ago, a stylist flew in from town but I gave her my room. Like I told the person who sent her, you send someone to come fuck with me, some shoes or whatever, they’re my responsibility now. I would expect the same thing in return if I sent someone to you to have their best interest at heart. I believe in that. I tell niggas around me all the time, I know how it is to be the D-Bo and take shit and I know how far it got me. But, the respectful approach has gotten me ten times further. It’s important to speak to everybody at the front desk at The FADER whether they give a fuck if I do or not that’s important to me because I value them. I value the waiter, the car valet. I value people. I don’t get caught up in that and I try to never focus in that. People see me and they scream and cry, yell and scream but I don’t get caught up in that shit. I just get caught up in my heart in what I think is just the right shit.

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March 01, 2016
Plies' Recent Success Comes From Being His Most Authentic Self