Plies is probably the most unlikely rapper to be noticed for his complex social commentary. The Hip-hop community more often recognizes him for his raunchy lyrics about the drug game or his past sexcapades. Ironically, his strength lies in the profundity of his social commentary and the insight he gives listeners into his personal struggles. The chorus in the song “Rich Folk” says it all: “Im sick of this shit dawg/im tired of bein’ broke/i wanna live like the rich folk/i want da house with da big boat/wanna wake up on mornin’ aint gotta sell dope.” Plies‘ use of ordinary communication and other prosaic elements in his music means that his words and metaphors are designed to resonate with the desolate members of our society. In stead of saying “I want a better life for myself,” he tells us what a more successful existence will actually look like in real terms for him. Transcending his trap means he could do things ranging from “leave the TV runnin” while he isnt at home and “buyin 4 new whips every year.” Broke folk know what it’s like to have to worry about every watt of energy they use to pinch pennies and dream driving their dream car. He connects with his audience by appealing to their ability to process exceptionally simplistic imagery; and the people can feel that.
Listen to ‘Rich Folk’ While You Read.
Im sick of this shit dawg/im tired of bein’ broke/i wanna live like the rich folk…
In the second verse, Plies turns his attention on how the depths of his experience poverty, violence, and drugs has inspired his lofty goals for legitimate means to attain wealth. He shows us how drug dealers lead conflicted lives: “when a nigga tel you he likes selling dope/he a fuckin lie!/cuz if he did he’d sell dope for no prize.”
They dont actually enjoy the game, but they are willing to do what is necessary even if that means holding dubious morals. Plies continues, “we jus willin to take chances to get buy/aint like we like it to do it/we gotta tote fire/cuz if you dont /theres a good chance you gone die.”
He acknowledge’s that his life consists of selling the very drugs that keep their communities immersed in a cycle of poverty, drug/gang violence, and strife. But the desire to survive points to how dire traplife is: “im tryin to stay hood/but i aint tryin to die here.” Plies prescribes to the hustler’s mentality and the notion of thug motivation: survival trumps righteousness. Beyond basic survival, Pliesexplains, “most niggas just want a piece of the good life/the worst feelin to want shit but cant buy it.”
He whale’s, “fuck hood rich I wanna be hood for real” for good reason; to ensure that his son has a better life than he did. He doesn’t want to move into better housing he wants a “million fuckin dollar crib” that sits on a hill and where you could walk into his son’s crib and not know if its “mine or his. He wants to ensure that his son’s standard of living is far above the existence he was brought up in. Again, Plies appeals to listeners by relating to their basic desires; to provide a better life for their offspring.
For Plies, its not enough for his son to have a better life than his; but he wants to ensure that he has to struggle in the least bit. Growing up in Fort Myers, Florida, the hope for riches was Plies’ most important goal because he saw how hard his mom had to work for what little she had and the desire to shield his own offspring from the same life of economic depression.
It was all for his own children and his desire to create opportunity for them because he grew up in was so difficult. In the last few bars, he indicates why he risked so much for success: “I want my son to be the first one with some wheels/I want to send my son to college and pay it up for four years.” Plies himself had to drop out of college because the cost was so high. So he would rather take a chance on his own future by selling drugs in hopes that his child will have a better future.
The hustle isn’t for hustle sake. Its from a desire to provide a better enviornment for those who come after us. For those of us growing up in the ‘hood witnessing tragedy after tragedy, it takes major success and work to right the wrongs of their past. Traplife isnt something that Plies chose for him, but a life that he was born into by virtue of his community’s conditioning.
He bought into the same capitalistic pursuits that the greater society does. Plies dreams, desires, and values are no different than middle class workers. He has the desire to transcend the negative obstacles of his community, to have financial security, and provide a life of access for his offspring. People in the hood often yearn for that American Dream the most, especially since they are usually furthest from achieving it. Thank God for Hip-hop.
*This is Hip-hop’s Word:: Govern yourselves accordingly.