In a relatively short time, DJ Khaled went from the fat guy yelling "We da best!" on rap tracks to an absolute phenom. Khaled turned Snapchat into his own mobile television network, espousing maxims about the keys to success, and expressing elation at having proven "They" (the people who don't want you to win) wrong. His earnest personality shone through, and he ultimately parlayed Snapchat stardom into a new record deal and opening spot on Beyoncé's latest tour.
At 3.9 million followers and climbing, Florida rapper Plies' Instagram is the second coming. Always in transit — and usually buckled up! — Plies dispatches a steady stream of driver's seat videos about whatever is on his mind, though often the topic is "females." Sometimes the car is parked, and he swings about a glass of Cognac to accentuate his stories. His 'gram is therapeutic. It it as low-brow as art can get, and yet it is authentic, the most important quality. Much like watching Khaled's Snapchat, you get the sense that you are riding along with a man living his life to the fullest. He generously seasons sentences with "bih" the way New Yorkers say "son" and Philly peoples say "jawn." There's no plainer way to say it: Plies is country as hell. But there is an element of exaggeration to his cadence that makes it all the more entertaining. He slows down some words for emphasis — like chopping and screwing in real time — and whispers others. Check out the way he coins Father's Day "big ssshteak day."
He sings some sentences over and over, functioning as his own chorus to punctuate his ratchet sermons. Below's refrain is an elongated falsetto, "It's Faaa-ther's Day."
As Khaled doles out his keys and major alerts, so too does Plies have his own franchise, titled "Sweet Pwussy Satday." Fans know every Saturday to expect an onslaught of explicit, and hilarious, tales about what is presumably Plies' favorite subject: pussy.
On Sunday (June 19) even producer extraordinaire Bryan-Michael Cox took note, proclaiming Plies his "all time favorite person on social media." The rapper posted a video of himself joyously singing along to Drake's "One Dance," not unlike Khaled recently vibing to "Controlla."
What makes this all so interesting is that prior to last fall, most people were only vaguely familiar with Plies as the punchline from countless Kirk Franklin doppelgänger jokes, like this:
Kirk Franklin and Plies look like the angel and demon that sit on ur shoulder when you trying to make a decision pic.twitter.com/VhLh3upJ9n— Deola (@DeolaCola) November 13, 2015
Understand, Plies was a successful rapper before he ever became a meme. The Fort Myers, Florida native had a Platinum debut, with hits including "Shawty" feat. T Pain (no. 1 on the Billboard Rap Charts), "Hypnotized" feat. Akon and "Bust It Baby" feat. Ne-Yo from his albums The Real Testament (2007) and Definition of Real (2008). Then he came in strong on Gucci Mane's "Wasted" with the line "I don't wear white jeans like the white boys / But I do get wasted like the white boys," and got some of that La Flare synergy. And long before Beyoncé told you to "call Becky with the good hair," Plies dropped the certified Gold single "Becky," which was code for getting dome.
But the truth is, despite a spate of mixtapes (Da Last Real Nigga Left, (2014), Ain't No Mixtape Bih (2015), and Ain't No Mixtape Bih 2 (2015), and a nonstop touring schedule, Plies was only really cooking in the South. Then last fall he dropped a song called "Ritz Carlton." In the intro of the record, Plies says, "Iont know what I wanna call this bih. Uh...name this bih Ritz Carlton, bih," because he was recording that bih in the Ritz Carlton. You don't know it as "Ritz Carlton," however. Chances are you call it "Ran Off On Da Plug Twice." That line is not even the hook. It is a single bar in the first verse. But it is the part that became an internet sensation. Its accompanying dance replaced the Dab as the preferred celebration in locker rooms across the nation. White people wrote explainers to help each other understand it. And Plies, smartly, retweeted and reposted every single recreation.
In the music video, we find Plies in his hotel bathroom with money strewn about the floor. He sports his now-trademark bathrobe, top hat and house shoes with socks, as he illustrates how he managed to avoid paying his connect not once, but twice, hence "ran off on the plug twice." It is a tip-toe twinkling of a dance. You run in place; your arms pump gently. You are not running from the plug so much as showboating.
It is damn-near subversive how Plies regained control of his image, which was literally running away from him. He saw that "ran off on da plug twice" was the lyric that people gravitated toward, and renamed the record to match. He dons the bathrobe and top hat onstage, and is now in the midst of Part IV of the Ran Off On Da Plug Tour, visiting 21 cities, few of which are above the Mason-Dixon line. The South has always sustained Plies, but he deftly used Instagram to go on the journey of more success.
In the midst of this, the social media platform decided in the spring to extend the length of videos from 15 seconds to 60. Plies capitalized, taking all of his newly allotted time to spin more and more ridiculous yarns. Here, he ruminates on becoming a house husband: "Iont know how to wash no clothes bih, gotta wash yo own clothes, but ain't no bih gon out-spaghetti me, so if you looking for a muthafuckin house huh-band don't look no muthafuckin further. I'm tired of muthafuckin working man."
Plies is not tired of working; there are levels to this and he's enjoying his ascent. The humblebrag below is captioned "I Need Some Lotion Bih." But Plies is calling attention to his ice, not his ash. He is still on — was never not on — and he doesn't want you to forget it.