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Basking in the illicit business of muddy cups and hot-boxed cars, Plad Fine$$e packs more power per punch than meets the eye. Just 20 years old, the recent high school graduate braves grim, loopy trap beats with poise. Words roll off his tongue as he navigates a series of notes that find a home in your head-space before the first bar. Don't let the familiar ad-libs fool you: From slick sports references and precocious tales of toddler finessing to subsidized television programs, this lover of lyrics has something to say.
Boston's local young gun once reserved special attention for English class, making mental notes whenever bits and pieces of lessons sparked interest. His early learning is not unlike Eminem's infamous decision to read the dictionary from cover to cover. That desire to balance flash and bounce with what purists would call substance is hinted at in his name, two dollar signs paying homage to one of his favorite acts: Brooklyn MC Joey Bada$$.
With only a limited output, he's spent the past two years certifying himself as a future threat. He's shared a handful of songs and videos since the fall of 2015, and it speaks to his character—both behind the microphone and in front of the camera—that those efforts alone are cause for excitement.
Plad is now looking to the future with a number of forthcoming shows and songs to perform on the road. Leading the way is "Cheese," premiering today on Pigeons & Planes. Yet another catchy entry in the artist's catalog, Fine$$e finds his stride thanks to 4otoRoles, a Boston-based producer and Plad's partner-in-crime. With youth on his side, we're excited to watch him grow into himself. Stream "Cheese" below and read our introductory interview with the Boston upstart—spanning musical inspirations and tragic setbacks—while you listen. We highly recommend viewing several of his videos, "The Scene" and "Do or Dare," also embedded throughout our conversation.
You're a young kid from a small city with a growing stake in the rap game. From where would you trace your love of music?
I would trace my love of music back to my older cousin, who I lived with when I was younger. His love for music basically rubbed off on me at young age. I started rapping when I was 13 and I fell in love with hip-hop, rap music, the culture. Watching rap videos was my favorite thing growing up—all the Busta Rhymes music videos. My music is an expression of who I am and I am product of my environment. I'm young kid from Roxbury. I have always dealt with life very seriously and that's how I choose to move, strategically an originally.
Do you have a memory of Roxbury that embodies your upbringing, for better or worse?
I've always been out in the streets in the city of Boston, and I've experienced a lot of positive and negative things that affect who I am today. A particular memory in Roxbury that sticks with me forever was this one weekend of chaos. Two of my friends were shot, one was shot on Saturday and the next on Sunday. It was like the worst weekend of my life. One of my friends is still here with me but the other is gone. Rest In Peace Evens Archer. That horrible weekend is just a reminder of the reality of living in the hood and growing up in the streets of Roxbury. "EA World" is something we say to keep our friend Evan's name alive.
I'm sorry man, that's terrible. These stories have gained more light in recent years as Boston receives more attention for its artists. To what extent have local successes affected your understanding of what's possible?
It's affected my understanding that there is no limit of possibility. It has basically put a magnifying glass on Boston on a national level. Now people are asking what's next to come out of Boston. Seeing that happen, since I started working in music I've learned that it's a lot of strategy, it's more than just an upload. People want to love who they're listening to, so being a person that people can relate to to an extent by being yourself is so important. Just showing everything that's unique about you.
You finished high school not too long ago, you're a few years younger than many of the other artists from the city. Were you balancing classwork with your own ambitions?
I was literally that kind of kid in high school, writing lyrics under desks. I used to take advantage of my English classes to the fullest. I would be doing my work but I would also be writing lyrics, using that class to my advantage. If I wasn't writing raps, I was making lists of words I had learned that I thought sounded interesting, words that could wow people. It was hard to balance sometimes while writing lyrics because I'd become absorbed in my own thoughts.
Is there a lyric that you consider to be a metric of excellence?
"Just got word from my mans on Island, he said he needed guidance / Niggas on the streets is wilding, he took to God but can't find him." Those lyrics are from Joey Bada$$' "Hardknock." The word play is amazing but the actual meaning of the lyrics hits home every time. Writing is important to me, but I take pride in all aspects of my music. I'd like to learn how to produce music too. I was rapping since I was like 13 but Joey's 1999 is what made me take rapping seriously. My freshman year. I used to only rap on boom-bap beats because that's how much he influenced me. Around the time I created "That's Finesse," I was trying to find myself and what made my music and my sound unique, so I stopped doing that to start crafting my own shit.
You naturally wield a charisma that shines through many of your verses and your videos, but you still slip in slick lines.
I'm always shooting for high quality. I honestly just try to express who I am through my music and that's what I do. I feel like bringing that balance of flow people enjoy and lyrics that still mean something goes a long way.
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