wed 26/04/2017

CD: Plan B - ill Manors | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Plan B - ill Manors

CD: Plan B - ill Manors

The Strickland Banks follow-up touches similar themes but is a tougher, uglier creature

ill Manors bridles against governmental lack of concern, including direct pops at David Cameron himself
Plan B riding his razor's edge of shard-sharp wordplay

Coming off the back of million-selling soul concept album The Defamation of Strickland Banks, the third album of Plan B - who is soon to be seen as George Carter (the Dennis Waterman role) in the remake of The Sweeney - is a belated soundtrack to his feature film ill Manors.

Ben Drew’s 2006 debut was the sweary, snarling urban youth apocalypse and Daily Mail nightmare, Who Needs Actions When You Got Words? His latest returns to the same gritty British hip-hop territory, but with harsher criminality and disgusted social commentary. It is of a piece with the film, dropping in snippets of dialogue and plotline, but works on its own as well. From the ballistic fury of the opening title track to the gloomy pessimism of the closing “Falling Down”, Drew combines vicious vignettes of drug depravity and predatory behaviour with observations on how its environs create it. While not an agit-prop album, ill Manors bridles against governmental lack of concern, including direct pops at David Cameron himself.

Running the gamut from speeded gospel-soul on “Lost My Way” to chopped electro-jazz bombast on “Playing with Fire”, and including guests such as rappers Labrinth and Kano and poet John Cooper Clarke, the core draw still remains Drew's tight lyrical skill. Over riveting breakbeats on songs such as “Drug Dealer” and “Deepest Shame”, Drew weaves sagas that are appalling but fascinating, often concerning crack whores, tales where redemption is elusive and bleakness pervades, as with the protagonist of the nasty “The Runaway”, “wishin’ she’d wake up from the nightmare she was in but she weren’t wakin’ up from nuttin’, this was her reality”. The album doesn’t wallow, though; it exudes righteous anger.

In a pop climate where so many write songs expressing banality in opaque ways, Ben Drew’s latest blast of vicious wordplay and catchy magpie adaptation of club music is invigorating.

Watch the video for the single "ill Manors"

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