There was a version of the remix of Usher’s “Love in This Club” on tap that was almost completely different than the one actually released. We almost heard Usher trying to have sex in the nightspot with Mariah Carey instead of Beyoncé.
“At the time, it was conveyed to me that it was supposed to be Usher, Mariah Carey and me,” Plies told us about how he laid two verses for a remix to the hit single. “Obviously, that was a no-brainer as far as putting down what I had to do. … I sent two verses to them. Then I get a call from a friend of mine at a radio station that they was getting ready to go with the record, but the version they had didn’t have me on it.”
Of course, the version that went to radio featured Usher, Beyoncé and Lil Wayne.
“For me, I never allow myself to ever take anything personal in this business,” he explained record. “I know a lot of times [there’s] so much political stuff tied into a decision. It was good [for] me, because I got a call from Usher, and he let me know he was clear about the situation. He loved the verse, he loved the record, but on their end, they ended up going with the version they went with. For Usher to even consider me to be a part of the situation, that was good enough for me.”
And there are a handful of other singers who didn’t miss a chance to work with the Fort Myers, Florida, native. Janet Jackson recently lent her vocals to his hit “Bust It Baby Part 2″ without Plies even knowing (by the way, a “Bust It Baby,” he says, is a woman who gives him his best sexual experience). Jamie Foxx, The-Dream, Trey Songz, Keyshia Cole and J. Holiday also appear on his Tuesday release, Definition of Real. His debut, The Real Testament, came out less than a year ago.
Plies describes his working with Ne-Yo as “another blessing.”
“To have the dude that has forced his will on this game, whether it’s from the songwriting side or singing his own #1 records … for me, he’s a person I always wanted to work with,” he said of Ne-Yo. “He’s just a person I didn’t think I would get a chance to work with this early in my career.”
Plies recalled when he and Ne-Yo met by chance — and the two turned out to be part of a mutual-admiration society.
“He approached me and told me he loved what I was doing musically,” Plies said. “It was weird for me, because I probably told him nine of his records I was a true fan of. We agreed that at some point we wanted to work together. To have the opportunity to work with somebody I respected from a distance, see his journey to where he’s currently at, not only was it a great feeling, it’s something that was a part of my life that …,” he trailed off, taking time to get his thoughts together. “I thanked him so much for helping me provide for my family. I know he gets tired of me texting him. I appreciate it. I think it’s important for me to remain as humble as possible and let the good things and bad things help mold me.”
The worst thing Plies has experienced since being in the music industry is his big brother’s incarceration. Big Gates, ne Ronnell Lawrence Layatte, was arrested in 2006 for his involvement in a shooting at a Gainesville, Florida, nightclub shortly after a Plies performance. Plies’ brother, who also helps guide his career, still has at least one more year in prison before he can come home.
Plies’ song “Die Together” addresses his sibling, whom he has no problem declaring he looks up to. “It’s basically saying, ’This is our bond,’ ” he explained. “We know we gotta die one day, but when it is our turn, you can take us together.”
Plies said his brother has only heard a portion of the song during their phone calls, because it’s too emotional. “He made me stop playing it,” Plies said. “I played it for him over the phone. Soon as I recorded it, that night, he called. I said, ’Bruh, I gotta let you hear this. It’s the best record I ever did.’ He said, ’Man, you always tell me that.’ Probably halfway through the first verse, he said, ’Man, cut it off. Bruh, I can’t tell you the last time I cried, but I can feel [tears coming on]. Just play it for me when I get home.’ I feel I succeeded with everything I was trying to get across.”
“Somebody (Loves You),” which samples Patti LaBelle’s classic of the same name, also talks about losing loved ones to the prison system. “[It says,] ’I wish I could hug all my homies who lost trial.’ It’s important for me to make that kind of music,” Plies said.
His next single is another record dedicated to sexy women — “Please Excuse My Hands,” featuring Jamie Foxx and The-Dream. Plies already has his next album, titled The Realest, slotted for a December 16 release.